GTH ACE, £300

"As a standards converter, the ACE ... is superb."

This piece of kit is not sold as a Macrovision defeater, but itís nevertheless capable of this by virtue of the complex digital video processing hardware on board. (GTH Note: We have a strict policy on this. See FAQs) Such hardware provides many other interesting features - as the control-festooned front panel suggests. Its main selling-point is undoubtedly full standards-conversion between PAL (50Hz, or the 60Hz variety generated by some VCRs when playing NTSC tapes), Secam, and both 3.58MHz and 4.43MHz flavours of NTSC. Standards conversion can be a real boon if you want to record foreign TV programmes or feeds. Although NTSC analogue feeds are rare nowadays, there are still plenty of Secam programmes around on the Telecom satellites.

The input standard is recognised automatically - all you do is specify the output format you want. As the device also acts as a time-base corrector in this mode it will let you record weak analogue signals.

The ACE will also let you watch NTSC sources on older (PAL-only) TVs and, if you were to invest in a multi-standard VCR, you could swap tapes with overseas video and satellite enthusiasts. The ACE is the only product of the group that will let you make recordings of copy-protected Region 1 DVDs with a UK-standard VCR. The back panel is also busy. You get S-video and composite inputs and outputs, as well as a bank of audio phonos (the device has an audio/video fader mode). Thereís also a Scart socket which is capable of delivering a composite plus YUV or RGB output. Sadly, you canít convert RGB to S-video. Supplied with the unit is a four-pin mini-DlN to twin phono-adapter cable which allows the ACE to drive two composite video outputs in the appropriate mode. As a result, the ACE can act as a distribution amplifier capable of feeding up to four VCRs or monitors.

Other features include colour correction, video adjustment, a basic pattern generator (colour bars and purity screens), colour shift control (for correcting multi-generation copies), video invert and a Ďsolarisationí effect. As a standards converter, the ACE -which is equipped with an unusually-high (for a consumer unit) 8Mb of field-storage memory - is superb. Macrovision-busting, which works in or out of the standards-conversion mode, is also effective. As the video signal is subjected to a great deal of processing, though, itís not quite as Ďneutralí as the minimalist FBI. Some finer detail goes missing, but such differences will probably be lost during recording. In all, a fine piece of kit for the video (and multi-satellite) enthusiast. But for basic Macrovision-busting, itís overkill.

Gary Stella

Positive Features:

Unprecedented control over the video
Flexible standards conversion

Negative Features:

No RGB to S-video; expensive choice if
you don't need the other features

What Satellite TV, August 2001

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