Its a multi-standard full digital 4:2:2 processing TBC, a standards converter and colour corrector that adjusts chroma/colour time, plus it acts as an aspect ratio converter, enhancer, test signal generator and offers video fade capabilities. Phew! That's a load of function for a box of its size and value. When I stumbled across this device on the Internet I had to get one to review so I wrote away to the UK company behind it, GTH Electronics.
The ACE Advanced Converter Enhancer ships with an S-Video cable, one S-Video to 2xRCA cable, two stereo audio cables, a power supply (with UK plug) and a 14-page manual that adequately covers all operations. The product looks like it was designed in the 80s, but appearances aren't what the Ace is all about; it is functionality that counts.
The Ace can take S-Video or composite video and stereo audio (unbalanced) in. It outputs S-Video, composite stereo unbalanced audio and, through a SCART connector, composite video and stereo audio plus RGB or YUV video.
The first test I ran was putting a very old poor quality VHS using the TBC in the Ace and then monitoring the results on a professional Sony monitor and waveform / vector scope. The results were outstanding. Then I tested to see if the Ace removed Macrovision, which it did. (GTH Note: We have a strict policy on this. See FAQs) These tests were all done on both PAL and NTSC sources. There are the usual controls: contrast (blacks), brightness (level) Saturation (colour) and balance. The balance control adjusts the colours in the picture without affecting the whites. A great function for correcting skin tones.
In my business I do a lot of standards conversion. This is broken into two categories: domestic and corporate/broadcast. For domestic jobs I use the Panasonic W1 while for corporate/broadcast work I outsource which adds a high cost. I did many side-by-side conversions with the Panasonic W1 and Ace. In every case NTSC to PAL, PAL to NTSC, PAL to Secam, NTSC to Secam. poor quality and high quality video, the Ace produced far better results. It is still a long way from the mega bucks broadcast converter but for the money it stands up very well.
Colour correction is done with three controls, one each for red, green and blue. You have two controls for colour timing. Shift for horizontal and colour shift for vertical. In addition there is an invert button that gives you the option to make the video into a negative, colour invert and video invert.
The inbuilt test pattern generator gives you broadcast standard colour bars, blue screen and red screen - the blue and red screens are very handy for checking the purity of your video monitors. All the test patterns can be output in all video formats (PAL, NTSC, Secam).
Video fade capabilities are very basic but it's all you need. There is a control to adjust the speed of the fade to black, which doubles up as the manual control.
The area marked special effects has two controls. The Sharpness control is self-explanatory while the Digitise option is like a paint effect that increases the more you turn it up.
The aspect ratio converter gets a bit more complicated to use. To activate it, when you turn the power on you have to hold the "output type" button at the same time. That changes the digitise controls to be the aspect control.
With other button combinations you get a raft of aspect ratios. It is a true aspect change, not just a crop. It even enables you to take a 16:9 or 14:9 letterbox picture and blow it up to fill a 4:3 screen.
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