Short Reviews on Retro Gaming Products
Shinybow SB-5450 S-Video Selector
Price: $139.00 | Rating: 8.5/10 | www.shinybowusa.com
Expensive but exquisite, this 2 output, 4 input AV and Matrix Audio selector is the best on the market.
The Shinybow SB-5450 AV Selector is part of Shinybow's line of high-end channel selectors including the 5425 and 5430. The 5425 is the most basic of the bunch, while the 5450 is the Cadillac version of this series of AV switches. You can read more about the differences on Shinybow's website.
The 5450 allows you to input up to 4 composite or S-video and audio connections and output to two sources. Due to the matrix design, you can route any input to either output with the press of a button (the two on the front under the LCD panel). This is not a signal converter, so it will not up-convert your composite signal to S-Video. Other, cheaper, non-powered devices claim to do this, but it typically acts as a pass through and does not boost the signal. Because the 5450 runs on its own power supply, not only do you get an image that is 100% free of signal loss, or "ghosting", but it also sharpens up the image a bit over and above a direct to TV connection due to it also being a signal booster. The image output is absolutely stunning on my 13 year-old Dell 32' 720p via S-Video set to 4:3 scaling. This is the best picture I've come across on any LCD display, and rivals my old Trinitron in detail. I wish I could get some pics up, but as the time of this writing I don't have a capture card and taking pics from my camera won't do it justice. I was thinking about "upgrading" to another CRT, but after getting the 5450 I'm more than happy with the results. I'm simply blown away.
In searching for a great S-Video selector solution for my 32-bit gaming consoles I tried many of the cheap $20 models you can find on Amazon only to see serious signal loss, and a substantial loss in overall quality. I searched all over the internet to find what other modern-retro gamers are using and found a Reddit with two users who highly recommended the Shinybow products. Never hearing of them before I did some digging and found out they usually supply to professional AV outlets and are often used in security camera systems and the like. Being a niche product, the price reflects that. While the 5425 starts at around $90 USD, the 5450 begins around $140 USD; although, I found mine on Amazon brand new for $107 USD.
Any savvy retro gamer not running their set-up via RGB/SCART knows that a high-quality S-Video set-up is the second best solution, but finding quality products to route multiple consoles through can be a pain. While the Shinybow 5450 is a costly solution, you won't find better quality. It is 100% worth the price of admission, and you won't at all be sad in your purchase. It also looks sleek in your set-up. :)
The only reason I'm not giving it a 10/10 is the price - it will be prohibitive to many gamers because of the cost, which is a real shame. That said, if you are into retro gaming you know that your hobby is already expensive, and that good picture quality typically comes at a significant cost.
Brook Super converter for Playstation
Price: $39.00 | Rating: 10/10
This amazing little device from Brook allows you to use your DualShock 3 or 4, or most other PS3 and PS4 controllers on either a Playstation 1 or 2. While it is a bit on the expensive side for a controller converter, it has full Bluetooth functionality once the modern controller is paired. Brook is not a well known peripheral manufacturer across gaming, but they have been around for sometime. Fighting game enthusiasts may know them for making high-quality PCBs for modding Fightsticks.
Given the very high cost of sourcing brand new Playstation 1 or 2 controllers for use on these legacy systems, I had been searching for a converter to allow use of modern controllers as the second hand controllers I had purchased were in varying states of decay. Because the DualShock standard hasn't changed that much over the years, having the ability to buy new/longer lasting controllers is a god-send for legacy Playstation systems. Because I have quite the collection of DualShock 3's that are hardly used, this ended up being the perfect solution.
The Brook Super Converter allows you to pair both a DualShock 3 or 4 via USB, and then run via Bluetooth once paired. Once you pair a controller it is saved, so there is no need to pair the controller every time you use the system. What's more, if you are a fighting game fan and want to use your modern Fightstick on PS1, you're in luck! My Hori Real Arcade Pro N: Hayabusa and my Mad Catz TE2+ both work flawlessly! Another great bonus is the ability to update the firmware on the device to keep it up to date with new controller releases.
Over the last three weeks of use, I've seen no lag or issues (above the standard Bluetooth latency when wireless) when used with official PS products and licenced Fightsticks (because these are hardwired, there is no latency); although, your mileage will vary with third-party controllers and knock-offs. I purchased a Chinese DualShock 3 knockoff from Ebay last year and was met with some serious lag and unresponsive d-pad inputs.
Especially for use with Fightsticks on legacy Playstation systems, this converter is an essential part of your collection and the price fully justifies the amazing functionality you will get out of it.