Many things designed for the office end up at home. Goodness knows how many Microsoft Office 2000 CDs and even sticks of PC memory have been ‘liberated’ from the office environment. And that’s not to mention the stationery…
The latest candidate for emancipation is the Lindy VGA Converter. Essentially it’s a tool for those giving presentations – plug it into your PC’s VGA output and it converts the signal into composite, S-video and Scart for connection to a television or video. All the appropriate leads are included. But take it home and you can turn your PC into a games machine bar none by plugging it into your 26-inch telly. Forget about your Dreamcasts and Playstation 2. The PC has hit the living room.
The device is arguably better at games than presentations. However, quality ultimately depends to a great degree on the quality of your television. Whatever the case, on the 21-inch model we used for testing, games simply looked fantastic. This is because the signal is softened and ‘fuzzified’ during conversion, which takes the edges off the pixellation that can give 3D games an unrealistic feel. The same welcome degradation is also applied to pictures and DVD movies – somehow they just look ten times better on TV than on the computer’s monitor.
But load up Microsoft Word or PowerPoint and it’s a different matter. At XGA (1024×768) resolution, text is impossible to read unless it’s upwards of 20 point size. The desktop becomes a congealed, fuzzy mess. SVGA is better but not enough for comfortable use. VGA is best of all although at this resolution there isn’t a great deal of desktop space to play with. In other words, this is solely a tool for making presentations. Unless you use your PC solely for games, don’t think you can buy the Lindy VGA thingy as a replacement for your PC monitor.
A sharpness button on the unit lets you go through three stages of image sharpening, although the third, which is the best, also causes irritating picture judder, particularly of whites against coloured backgrounds. The second setting is a good compromise. In addition you can zoom into a quarter of the desktop – which can also be panned – and a switch lets you momentarily freeze-frame the screen.
Four directional controls let you centre the picture, and a ‘size’ button runs the picture though several pre-defined dimensions until you find one that fits your TV screen properly. And, no matter what TV the unit is plugged into, a pass through cable ensures that your monitor can remain plugged in, although we had to run the VGA output at a slightly uncomfortable 60Hz because the Lindy unit can’t cope with anything higher.
It’s worth pointing out that many graphics cards and an increasing number of notebooks already come with S-video or composite outputs nowadays. Before you pay the £99 for the Lindy device, it might be worth checking if your manufacturer offers a conversion kit. And we’re a little upset that the unit didn’t include an RF output which would have ensured compatibility with every single TV ever made.
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