As my collection of older computers and games consoles increases, so does my lack of space on my desk as it’s usually filled with all manner of PC TFT monitors and TV’s. For some of my older stuff, I have 3rd party or homebrew VGA converters but for most unmodified systems like my Commodore or Sinclair collection most are connected to a standard TV via an RF connection.

Ideally, I’d like reclaim my desk and have the one PC TFT monitor. Of course, PC monitors don’t usually contain all of the usual A/V ports that most TV’s offere so it was with great interest that I happen to come across a solution that might help.

VGA TV Box from Gadmei.

With this, I can connect a whole host of computers/consoles to a standard VGA PC monitor (TFT or CRT) & speakers rather than having to have a separate LCD TV on my desk.

Here’s the specs –

  • Highest resolution: 1280 X 1024 /75Hz
  • Resolution rate up to 800*600, 1024*768 or 1280*1024
  • Refresh rate up to 60Hz or 75Hz
  • Built-in Speaker
  • Stereo FM function
  • Works without your PC, no drivers or software needed
  • Simply plug in an aerial lead, and connect to your LCD or CRT monitor
  • Connect a set of speakers for sound
  • Compatible with LCD/CRT monitors, PDP and Projectors
  • This TV BOX is a high quality digital colour PCTV, with 24 bits true colour picture
  • Unique MMI AV Cable can be connected with DVD/PS2/XBOX/Game CUBE/VCR or any other composite source
  • RF input
  • PC Line/Speaker jack
  • Supports multipicture, exploring
  • 4,9 or 16 Thumbnail scanning of TV channels
  • Supports watching TV under windows system (PIP) Function
  • 3D noise-reduction
  • Full subjoin channel receiving and compatible with Cable TV and Wireless TV of a PAL/I system, up to 256 channels
  • No installation software needed, compatible with any PC system
  • Plug and Play, cot occupying computer resource
  • Full function remote control
  • OSD display control on the PC model

My first test was with my Sinclair Spectrum +2 (Thanks to Andy of RCM). Here I’ve connected the RF output from the computer to the VGA box which is them connected to my test VGA PC monitor. The other leads are for audio but as I’m using RF, i won’t be using these yet.

Selecting one of the spare channels, I set the unit to auto tune via the OSD. This can actually take some time as it scans through all of the frequencies but once it’s found the correct one it can be saved to the unit. Although the automatic tuning did a pretty good job, I had to make fine adjustments with the manual options.

You can control the OSD either via the buttons on the actual unit itself or via the supplied remote control.

‘Finders Keepers’ loading from tape on the +2. So far the picture is pretty good. There’s a little color bleeding but nothing too distracting.

Swapping over to the Spectrum +3, you can see the color bleed on the left. I swapped over the RF cable and the picture was improved somewhat.

On the Sinclair Spectrum +, the boot text was pretty crisp and readable (ignore the pinkish tint to the screen, the bright sunlight/iphone camera was producing some discoloration).

Things didn’t look to great on the BBC Micro though and no matter how much manual tuning i did, this was about the best i could do and as you can see it’s pretty awful. However, the beeb is usually connected via a BNC connector and it looks like the RF port hasn’t been used in a few years therefore it’s probably a dirty connection rather than a faulty VGA unit/cabling. I’ll need to investigate further!

I tested a couple of Commodore C64 breadbins and C64 model C’s  via RF and all looked pretty good.

Something a bit more modern this time therefore I hooked up my Playstation 2 via composite. This looked much much better than RF (as you’d expect) but the screenshot below doesn’t do it justice – I should have picked a still instead of the opening sequence from Tekken 4 🙂

O.k, so is it better than connected directly to a TV…erm no. However, considering that the VGA box was only £29 and about a quarter the price of the cheapest 15″ LCD TV it’s certainly an economical solution and one that will save me a bit of desk space!


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