iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Guillemot VGA-to-TV
Converter Deluxe-2

Today I'm going to tell you about a VGA-to-TV converter Deluxe-2 from Guillemot. The device is meant for conversion of a signal from a video card output (VGA) into a TV signal (TV). You may ask us what this device is for, if many video card have a TV-out. The answer is simple: practically in all video cards a video-out works only at 800X600 resolution (at higher resolutions you will see only an area on the screen limited by the 800X600 size) and only at the 50/60 Hz (PAL/NTSC) - it is very tiresome for your eyes to work for a long time with such monitor. The only pleasant exception is dual-head Matrox G400/450 video cards. Due to an original technology TV displaying is not connected with the settings of the major (VGA) output, and as a result I received a high quality picture with the Matrox G450. Special external converters lack for such disadvantages. Such models allow for operation with a wide range of input resolutions and scannings: typical resolutions are 1024X768 and 75 Hz (for example, VineGen 2/pro), and more expensive models work with resolutions up to 1600X1200 at 120 Hz (for example, AVerKey 7 or CORIOscan Pro SG).

So, what are these convertors for? Their range of application is very wide. One of the traditional applications is a video presentation. In this case monitor contents is duplicated on a video projector, which outputs it on a large projection screen. But I doubt in such a way of application, since the majority of decent projectors which cost from $3,000 have their own VGA and XGA inputs.

Sometimes, VGA-to-TV converters are used for transferring monitor contents on a video tape (e.g., in case of consumer editing). Sometimes, it is possible to achieve better quality than that provided with a TV-out function of video cards.

Such converters are widespread in television: teleprompters, caption generators, interactive poll devices and for duplicating monitors. In some television companies the AVerKey 7 converter is regularly used for displaying Internet pages on TV screens. And its quality meets the requirements of the telecasting.

So, what function does our model have? I will compare this device with those which I worked with earlier: VineGen 2 and AVerKey 7.

A typical scheme of connection of such devices - into a VGA cable with the help of connectors - is shown on the picture:

Inputs/outputs may differ in different models, but the principles of transferring a VGA signal through a converter are the same everywhere. It is explained by the matching buffer amplifiers, which eliminate reduction of a signal level when using a converter. The Guillemot Converter Deluxe-2 has a bit different connection schematic:

In my opinion, it makes the construction more complex, lowers the reliability of connection and noise-immunity of the whole VGA way. So, a mobile phone located near a VGA cable induced considerable noise, when rang, on the cable from the Guillemot Converter Deluxe-2 set (there were some distortions on the TV-out of the converter, while the AVerKey 7 made no responses). Of course, it is a tough experiment but it proves that the "straight-through" method has more advantages.

The converter in question has the following TV-outs: Composite, S-Video, Scart (RGB). The device is supplied with a full set of various cables. The Scart cable has a separate stereo sound channel for connection to a sound card.

There is no a single input in this converter, although sometimes we need not a simple generation of a video signal, but its overlay on another one. For example, in any TV studio the whole equipment is synchronized with a single reference source, and inputs for external synchronization are vital for such converter. For example, the VineGen 2 and AVerKey 7 do meet these requirements, and allow for overlaying a picture not on the whole initial image but only on its part.

Setting control is quite scarce.

The converter case has the following controls:

  • PAL/NTSC switch;
  • ZOOM button for 2x enlargement of an image;
  • SIZE button for extension and adjustment of an image on a TV screen (3 positions);
  • SAVE button for saving settings in the permanent memory;
  • RESET button;
  • 4 buttons for image positioning on a TV screen.

All settings are made with these buttons, though there is a small window on the front panel through which you can see an infrared photo diode. I can assume that a device can work with a remote controller, which must simplify the process of image adjusting. Practically all elder converters are supplied with a remote controller.

On the case you can also notice three LEDs for indicating a status of the device: PAL/NTSC, Zoom, Power. The VineGen 2, for example, has more than 10 LEDs (and the same number of various options and settings), and the AverKey 7 has all settings in a convenient multifunctional screen menu.

Besides, the VineGen 2 and AVerKey 7 offer adjustment of settings right from a computer via an RS-232 port. The Guillemot Converter Deluxe-2 lacks for such opportunity.

The last comes the quality of an image. Even if comparing with more expensive models like AVerKey 7 the quality is very high. An image is clear, the color transfer is true, there are no distortions on edges.

One of major problems when converting a signal VGA => TV is pixel beatings, which appear on images with thin contrast horizontal lines. Line interlacing used in a TV signal worsens the situation since the converter gets a progressive scanning from a computer. To eliminate flickers converters usually have image blurring algorithms, sometimes very complex and possible to be adjusted for different conditions. The AVerKey 7, for example, has a 4-step adjustment and several additional options for flicker elimination. The VineGen 2 has two such modes. The Guillemot Converter Deluxe-2 has nothing alike. But despite it, an image is very clear and without noticeable flickers. I tried to output a black text on a white background with a font size of only 8 pixels, and the converter excellently coped with this task.

So, let's draw a conclusion. Despite the shortage of functions and a low price ($120), the VGA-to-TV converter perfectly implements its duties. I recommend to use it when you need a high quality image without a strong want of wide functional possibilities.

In closing I will give you a summary table of the characteristics mentioned in this review:

parameter SVGA with TV-out*** Matrox DualHead Deluxe-2 VineGen 2 AVerKey 7
input resolution 800X600 unlimited* from 640X480
to 1152X864
from 640X480
to 1024X768
from 640X480
to 1280X1024
input frame frequency 50/60 Hz unlimited* from 120 to 70 Hz up to 75 Hz up to 85 Hz
inputs ---** ---** no composite composite
outputs composite
external synchronization no no no composite composite
Overlay on an external video signal no no no yes yes
remote controller ---** ---** no yes yes
Setting adjustment program program buttons on the case from remote controller from RC and with buttons on the case
screen menu no no no no yes
control via RS-232 ---** ---** no yes yes
flicker-filter yes no no 2 modes 4 modes
Scaling function yes yes yes (narrow) yes yes
Quality of an image of a TV-out low, sometimes moderate good excellent average excellent
Other possibilities   no Freeze, Fade, Keyer many other functions
guiding price up to $100 $100-150 $120 $600 $1,600


  • * - depends on the maximum resolution of a video card, and not on possibilities of a converter
  • ** - makes no sense in this device
  • ***
  • ATI All-in-Wonder RADEON, ASUS V7100 Deluxe Combo and other video cards for estimation of TV-out quality.

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