Playing retro games on HDTV.

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Playing retro games on HDTV.

#1

Post by VG_Addict » Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:51 am

I've heard that older games don't play well on an HDTV. You have to deal with stuff like input lag.

Is that true?

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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#2

Post by Booyakasha » Wed Jan 08, 2020 10:05 am

I am given to understand input lag is real, yes. I can't speak to how noticeable it is (all my retro consoles are hooked up to CRTs). I'd also imagine older games would look worse on an HDTV, simply because the inherent fuzziness of an SDTV would mask some graphical imperfections.
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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#3

Post by Bomby » Wed Jan 08, 2020 10:27 am

Very much so. Which is why I've taken to clone consoles and system modding.

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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#4

Post by X-3 » Wed Jan 08, 2020 10:51 am

Input lag is a myth created by Big CRT

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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#5

Post by Apollo the Just » Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:40 am

I didn't realize how much of a difference it made because I haven't owned a CRT since the early 2000's. So I've exclusively played on HDTV's even though most of the games I play are on okder analog consoles. Bought a CRT and it felt like a 15 year old veil had been lifted.

That said, HDTV's are perfectly serviceable for most intents and purposes. I only noticed the delay because every frame matters in speedrunning and dodging enemies is so much easier with no input lag. I posted a side by side comparison in my CRT thread.

(the image also looks way better yes, unless you like seeing low poly models and intentionally blurred backgrounds stick out like sore thumbs in HIGH RESOLUTION)

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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#6

Post by steeze » Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:44 am

When HDMI came out I noticed a huge difference when I hooked up my systems to the upstairs television.

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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#7

Post by Apollo the Just » Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:54 am

I don't remember whether I noticed it immediately at the time or not honestly, it was forever ago. I was pretty young and might have chalked it up to "just looks kinda different". I DO know that playing it on a CRT again super viscerally reminded me of what these games once felt like, though.

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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#8

Post by CaptHayfever » Wed Jan 08, 2020 4:27 pm

Input lag is an issue, depending on the type of game. The graphics tend to look worse because high-res screens don't provide the slight blur that older games relied on to smooth out their pixel art. And light-gun games straight-up don't work at all.

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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#9

Post by DarkZero » Wed Jan 08, 2020 4:45 pm

HDTVs are always going to be at least slightly slower than CRTs, at least until technology progresses to a point where they can process an image at the same speed as an analogue signal. But its very minimal with digital signals since that's what they are designed for. The big thing that makes retro games so difficult to play on HDTVs is that those TVs aren't really optimized for analogue signals like composite, as the TV has to process and upscale the image which adds onto the time it takes to finally display it.

There are, of course, ways to get the delay down to a playable or almost non-existant level, however. One solution is using a dedicated upscaler, which tend to process the image faster than your TV can. If your console happens to support a digital display option (such as component or VGA), this also works very well.

As Bomby mentioned, there are also clone consoles that emulate retro systems that natively support HDMI output, and many of them support real hardware like cartridges and controllers. In addition, you can have pretty much any real console modded to output a digital signal, but obv it costs money to have someone else mod your system and I wouldn't recommend doing it yourself unless you really know your stuff.

I pretty much emulate everything on a modded Wii with component cables, or otherwise use a composite-to-HDMI upscaler with a real console when needed. Although believe me if I had the space for a CRT I would probably just use that.

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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#10

Post by Apollo the Just » Wed Jan 08, 2020 5:04 pm

DarkZero wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 4:45 pm
There are, of course, ways to get the delay down to a playable or almost non-existant level, however. One solution is using a dedicated upscaler, which tend to process the image faster than your TV can. If your console happens to support a digital display option (such as component or VGA), this also works very well.
Wait, am I missing something? Component and VGA are both analog signals as well. But do these two convert more efficiently (than, say, composite or S-video) on modern technology? - Genuine question; I was completely unaware.

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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#11

Post by DarkZero » Wed Jan 08, 2020 5:16 pm

OK admittedly I might have talked out of my ass there because some cursory googling reveals that both are technically analog signals, so... whoops. I had assumed VGA was a digital signal because I know the VGA port on the Dreamcast has been converted to HDMI before with minimal complication. I guess what's different is that they are both more complex connections than the single connector of a composite cable and are capable of higher resolutions that an HDTV can support, but they are analog signals still.

Although component seems to come in both analog and digital...

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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#12

Post by Apollo the Just » Wed Jan 08, 2020 5:33 pm

Anecdotally, at my workplace we convert between DisplayPort (digital) signals and VGA (analog) for a lot of our PC-to-monitor connections. There is probably some slight latency but it's nowhere near on the same level as when I was playing Wii on an LCD screen. Would be interesting to research exactly what impact is had at each level - specific signal conversion, the hardware itself (external converters vs in TV/monitor hardware), how **** my specific TV was, etc. I should obviously bring in an ancient CRT monitor and hook it up for comparison. Wonder if I can convince my boss that this is a productive use of time and budget.

(Although if the complexity of the signal is a factor, the S-Video signal should have been more efficient than the composite but I did not - also anecdotally - experience that to be the case. but it could certainly be something specific about YPbPr / VGA signals, as I don't pretend to have incredibly in-depth knowledge beyond "they're analog and the VGA one is blue".)

anyone got 8000 TV's and consoles and connectors so we can do experiments? it's for science.

(sorry for derail i'll go mind my business again)

EDIT:

re your component comment, "component" is an umbrella term. S-Video, YPbPr (the red blue and green cables we colloquially call "component"), and VGA are technically component signals; they are all analog. HDMI and DVI-D are technically component signals as well, but digital.

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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#13

Post by Calamity Panfan » Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:25 pm

This is reminding me that I really should do something with my modded Wii. Haven't touched it since shortly after high school.

I've thought about either getting a CRT or an HDMI retro console type thing, but since I'm not streaming or speedrunning and it would be a very luxury item that I'd only occasionally use and it would take up space the rest of the time (and God knows I have so much gaming stuff taking up too much space already), I've just sucked up any input lag and such.

I've thought about getting into the MISTer a few times because it seems like a REALLY cool project and Jeff from Giant Bomb seems to really love it. But it's too big of an investment of both time and money to get that set up right now.

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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#14

Post by Bomby » Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:22 am

CaptHayfever wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 4:27 pm
Input lag is an issue, depending on the type of game.
Trying to play DKC2 from my original SNES on an HDTV was hilarious. I should upload the footage.

Super NT has essentially replaced my SNES. Though eventually I would like to get a good quality CRT for Super Scope games, and I would definitely use my OG SNES for that.

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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#15

Post by Apollo the Just » Thu Feb 27, 2020 5:20 pm

DarkZero wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 5:16 pm
OK admittedly I might have talked out of my ass there because some cursory googling reveals that both are technically analog signals, so... whoops. I had assumed VGA was a digital signal because I know the VGA port on the Dreamcast has been converted to HDMI before with minimal complication. I guess what's different is that they are both more complex connections than the single connector of a composite cable and are capable of higher resolutions that an HDTV can support, but they are analog signals still.

Although component seems to come in both analog and digital...
I'm bumping this because after going down several internet rabbit holes out of a fascination for how old analog video tech and interlacing works I realized I was misunderstanding the real difference between interlaced and progressive signals and I think that plays a big role into why VGA and component output have less lag on an LCD than composite and S-video.

It seems kind of obvious now in retrospect but I wouldn't have put two and two together if you hadn't pointed out the VGA-out DreamCast thing.

VGA and Component support progressive signals, which means no deinterlacing needs to be done, so the conversion to digital is ezpz because they are still receiving a full frame and displaying the full frame. Composite/S-video are sending an interlaced signal which means it is sending 2 half-frames and the converter has to figure out what the **** to do and apply filters/etc to make it approximate a progressive signal. Digital displays literally can't display an interlaced signal so it seems obvious now that it takes extra time for them to process and then display the best approximate conversion of it that they can. "Deinterlacing" is such a misnomer because it isn't... un-doing something, it literally involves algorithmically predicting what the missing half-frame probably looked like based on the information it gets. I have a new appreciation for this.

Anyway the wikipedia article was fascinating to me and I learned a lot about all the different jargon in AmarecTV so I can actually understand what its settings mean now. Link for anyone interested but too lazy to google "deinterlacing":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deinterlacing

Related, since CRT's literally don't support progressive signals because they by nature display interlaced signals, for progressive component or VGA you pretty much have to play on an LCD. You can play over component on a CRT but not progressive scan (you just get better colors, still interlaced) and in that case since the scan is still interlaced you will get lag if you try to convert it to digital. But if you're converting it to digital anyway, cut out the CRT and just go progressive and you will probably virtually eliminate lag.

I'd like to apologize for talking out of my ass about the analog to digital conversion being a source of lag. It's definitely the interlacing, which is why your point about VGA and component makes way more sense now.

edit: just went down another rabbit hole about how "240p" for really old games is also a signal intended for interlacing technology and the p just means that since the resolution is 240 scanlines it can send all 240 during each scan and essentially re-draws over the same scanlines each time instead of filling the space between, for the same refresh rate and number of scanlines as 480i but half the perceived vertical resolution. so even though it's technically a progressive signal, it was intended for this analog interlaced technology, and to be displayed properly on digital tech each horizontal line would need to be doubled. it is progressive because these CRT's that can only display 240 scanlines at a time can show all of them at once per refresh. this makes so much SENSE now and it's so cool

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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#16

Post by Deepfake » Mon Mar 02, 2020 7:32 am

Apollo the Just wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 5:20 pm
Spoiler.
I'm bumping this because after going down several internet rabbit holes out of a fascination for how old analog video tech and interlacing works I realized I was misunderstanding the real difference between interlaced and progressive signals and I think that plays a big role into why VGA and component output have less lag on an LCD than composite and S-video.

It seems kind of obvious now in retrospect but I wouldn't have put two and two together if you hadn't pointed out the VGA-out DreamCast thing.

VGA and Component support progressive signals, which means no deinterlacing needs to be done, so the conversion to digital is ezpz because they are still receiving a full frame and displaying the full frame. Composite/S-video are sending an interlaced signal which means it is sending 2 half-frames and the converter has to figure out what the **** to do and apply filters/etc to make it approximate a progressive signal. Digital displays literally can't display an interlaced signal so it seems obvious now that it takes extra time for them to process and then display the best approximate conversion of it that they can. "Deinterlacing" is such a misnomer because it isn't... un-doing something, it literally involves algorithmically predicting what the missing half-frame probably looked like based on the information it gets. I have a new appreciation for this.

Anyway the wikipedia article was fascinating to me and I learned a lot about all the different jargon in AmarecTV so I can actually understand what its settings mean now. Link for anyone interested but too lazy to google "deinterlacing":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deinterlacing

Related, since CRT's literally don't support progressive signals because they by nature display interlaced signals, for progressive component or VGA you pretty much have to play on an LCD. You can play over component on a CRT but not progressive scan (you just get better colors, still interlaced) and in that case since the scan is still interlaced you will get lag if you try to convert it to digital. But if you're converting it to digital anyway, cut out the CRT and just go progressive and you will probably virtually eliminate lag.

I'd like to apologize for talking out of my ass about the analog to digital conversion being a source of lag. It's definitely the interlacing, which is why your point about VGA and component makes way more sense now.

edit: just went down another rabbit hole about how "240p" for really old games is also a signal intended for interlacing technology and the p just means that since the resolution is 240 scanlines it can send all 240 during each scan and essentially re-draws over the same scanlines each time instead of filling the space between, for the same refresh rate and number of scanlines as 480i but half the perceived vertical resolution. so even though it's technically a progressive signal, it was intended for this analog interlaced technology, and to be displayed properly on digital tech each horizontal line would need to be doubled. it is progressive because these CRT's that can only display 240 scanlines at a time can show all of them at once per refresh. this makes so much SENSE now and it's so cool
Okay you've kind of got the right idea here except Standard Definition Interlaced and CRT are not one in the same thing. CRT is the same technology present in older PC monitors, which display in progressive scan, many of which do not support interlacing.

Some CRT TVs support Progressive Scan in SD or ED. ED is short for Enhanced Definition, it's a precursor to HD and it typically would require an S-Video or higher-end connection (possibly supported over SCART for instance). You can, for instance, output from the Wii with a progressive SD signal to compatible displays. I used to own a TV that could display ED standards, and I could output as high as 1024x768 progressive scan using an S-Video connector. The varieties of connectors, how they are processed, etc, are very broad and it depends on how the technology was applied.

Similarly, there are many kinds of de-interlacing processes, the simplest and fastest method of which actually just drops a frame. Others attempt to combine them, sometimes with different types of image smoothing or blending, but this means it must store at least one frame while capturing the next to combine them, and the combiner process can take time as well.

It's possible to force an interlaced signal over HDMI and other modern connections, and HD natively supports certain interlaced resolutions. Early HDMI often displayed interlaced modes, especially on systems like the PS3 and Xbox 360.

There is always some minimal display lag even on CRTs, but they are typically faster than modern display methods. That said, some flat screen technologies are actually now much much faster than CRT displays.
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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#17

Post by Apollo the Just » Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:26 pm

I didn't even know it was possible for S-Video to carry a progressive signal. What I think is really cool about the turn-of-the-century era of late analog/mid digital is that things were so much less standardized that there's pretty enormous variance - I learned for the first time the other day that the reason the US went for 60fps and EU went for 50ps in the CRT days is based on their respective AC electrical standards, which seems obvious now that I've learned about it but was not obvious until pointed out. I appreciate your input because the internet is very bogged down with retroactive misinformation so I'm trying to dig through it and actually figure out how stuff works. Heck, I realized my ~IT certification course~ was misinformed because they claimed converting an analog-to-digital signal requires a powered converter, and that's clearly not universally true because I plug VGA out into DisplayPort monitors using a **** dongle with no problems. It's way more complicated than just analog vs digital and I'm trying to get a better idea of all the underlying complexities.

I heard discussion elsewhere that another factor that makes LCD's slower is because the screen technology literally has to flex the crystals to bend light; but I find it very hard to believe that accounts for the entire difference in how much faster image appears on my CRT TV versus my LCD when I'm outputting the same signal. It could be!! But I'm inclined to believe the signal conversion plays a factor as well, although I'm sure that varies significantly between specific technologies. This is a pretty old garbage LCD so I wouldn't be surprised if a more recent one handled it better.

Obviously the real reason everyone should own a CRT TV is because Tales of Symphonia specifically looks significantly better on one. :p

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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#18

Post by Deepfake » Mon Mar 02, 2020 4:52 pm

Apollo the Just wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:26 pm
Heck, I realized my ~IT certification course~ was misinformed because they claimed converting an analog-to-digital signal requires a powered converter, and that's clearly not universally true because I plug VGA out into DisplayPort monitors using a **** dongle with no problems. It's way more complicated than just analog vs digital and I'm trying to get a better idea of all the underlying complexities.

I heard discussion elsewhere that another factor that makes LCD's slower is because the screen technology literally has to flex the crystals to bend light; but I find it very hard to believe that accounts for the entire difference in how much faster image appears on my CRT TV versus my LCD when I'm outputting the same signal. It could be!! But I'm inclined to believe the signal conversion plays a factor as well, although I'm sure that varies significantly between specific technologies. This is a pretty old garbage LCD so I wouldn't be surprised if a more recent one handled it better.
What's happening with your dongle setup is that the monitor actually can detect that a VGA signal has been attached and is actually interpreting the VGA signal, the port on the screen can tell the difference and handle the analogue signal accordingly. There are likely DP screens out there which can't interpret the signal from that dongle, even while they may be a minority. This is similar to the older DVI standard which actually came in multiple types and was confusing to consumers. You could have a DVI-D plug which only output in Digital, or a DVI-I plug which could carry both a digital and an analogue signal. Read up here: https://nvidia.custhelp.com/app/answers ... -and-dvi-d

So here's the important thing to take from that, and it's what can make this all much more complicated - you can't always tell what signal is being carried by the cable. Different cables often can carry compatible signals. What you should keep in mind is that the signal isn't determined by the connector type for the cable.

The major defining factor for old video connectors is that they carried color signals differently. Recent technology can all carry RGB color data, which is standard for PCs. Older composite video tech and the like interprets all the colors from a single multiplexed signal. Before composite cables separated out sound from video, it was layered into the same signal as well (carried via whatever antenna cable you used) and produced significantly noisier images.

The two primary methods of transmitting RGB in analogue are SCART, and VGA. I think there's some confusing information out there about that versus other HD analogue signals, like YPbPr, which isn't fully lossless and is typically carried via 3 RCA 'component' cables in consumer tech. In that technology, there are 3 signals - one for Luminance or brightness (black and white) and two for colors. Naturally that means our three primary colors are layered together somehow. There are digital versions of this and other color formats which can be utilitised to send lossier image data faster - if you ever get into Ultra HD video formats you'll quickly find that not all cables and ports and screens are created equal, and sometimes you can only get a lossy color signal at the timing you want if you're trying to figure out your best refresh rate. There are 8,294,400‬ individual pixels on a typical 4k screen and only the most recent technology can carry that at 60hz and up refresh rates.

There are very very many types of connectors for video signals. VGA has two standard connectors - the 15-pin D-sub which you are familiar with, and the older 9-pin D-sub (used for EGA and CGA, VGA's predecessors). D-sub is an older standard for connectors which is often used outside of video. If you ever wanted to connect a joystick to a PC before USB you would've seen one, and you also would've seen one on the Atari VCS/2600 or other systems of that era. The power glove connects to its sensor box with a D-sub connector. Until it was superceded by USB, printers typically connected via a 25-pin D-sub parallel port.

Similarly, S-Video and other similar ports (yeah, there are others) used a type of Mini-DIN connector. Mini-DIN types you've seen elsewhere would be the PS/2 ports used for older computer mouses and keyboards, which are still present on many systems.

While SCART is an odd sight to most consumers in the US, there are others like D-Terminal variants which, if you've seen any outside of Japan, it was probably on a PSP.
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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#19

Post by Deepfake » Mon Mar 02, 2020 5:16 pm

To be totally clear: VGA isn't a port type, although we colloquially use it as short-hand to refer to the 15-pin D-sub connector. Variants of DVI and DP can both carry and intepret VGA signals.

SCART is similar to VGA but it handles a few things differently, I think mostly the color timing, point being it's not the same signal over a different cable.

I'm sure there are other variants like this out there, certainly the RF cable hookup for the NES and other systems of the time actually used an RCA connector to attach to the system. RF/antenna signals have many variants of cable, most recently coaxial connectors have become standard for TV-space RF signals, but that is just another standardised connector format with multiple applications in different fields. Prior to that you might've had to use a Y-cable adapter to get your system to output on an older screen, which could be fastened with nuts to two poles on the back of the display.
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Re: Playing retro games on HDTV.

#20

Post by Apollo the Just » Mon Mar 02, 2020 5:25 pm

Deepfake wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 4:52 pm
What's happening with your dongle setup is that the monitor actually can detect that a VGA signal has been attached and is actually interpreting the VGA signal, the port on the screen can tell the difference and handle the analogue signal accordingly. There are likely DP screens out there which can't interpret the signal from that dongle, even while they may be a minority. This is similar to the older DVI standard which actually came in multiple types and was confusing to consumers. You could have a DVI-D plug which only output in Digital, or a DVI-I plug which could carry both a digital and an analogue signal. Read up here: https://nvidia.custhelp.com/app/answers ... -and-dvi-d

So here's the important thing to take from that, and it's what can make this all much more complicated - you can't always tell what signal is being carried by the cable. Different cables often can carry compatible signals. What you should keep in mind is that the signal isn't determined by the connector type for the cable.

The major defining factor for old video connectors is that they carried color signals differently. Recent technology can all carry RGB color data, which is standard for PCs. Older composite video tech and the like interprets all the colors from a single multiplexed signal. Before composite cables separated out sound from video, it was layered into the same signal as well (carried via whatever antenna cable you used) and produced significantly noisier images.

The two primary methods of transmitting RGB in analogue are SCART, and VGA. I think there's some confusing information out there about that versus other HD analogue signals, like YbPbPr, which isn't fully lossless and is typically carried via 3 RCA 'component' cables in consumer tech. In that technology, there are 3 signals - one for Luminance or brightness (black and white) and two for colors. Naturally that means our three primary colors are layered together somehow. There are digital versions of this and other color formats which can be utilitised to send lossier image data faster - if you ever get into Ultra HD video formats you'll quickly find that not all cables and ports and screens are created equal, and sometimes you can only get a lossy color signal at the timing you want if you're trying to figure out your best refresh rate. There are 8,294,400‬ individual pixels on a typical 4k screen and only the most recent technology can carry that at 60hz and up refresh rates.

There are very very many types of connectors for video signals. VGA has two standard connectors - the 15-pin D-sub which you are familiar with, and the older 9-pin D-sub (used for EGA and CGA, VGA's predecessors). D-sub is an older standard for connectors which is often used outside of video. If you ever wanted to connect a joystick to a PC before USB you would've seen one, and you also would've seen one on the Atari VCS/2600 or other systems of that era. The power glove connects to its sensor box with a D-sub connector. Until it was superceded by USB, printers typically connected via a 25-pin D-sub parallel port.

Similarly, S-Video and other similar ports (yeah, there are others) used a type of Mini-DIN connector. Mini-DIN types you've seen elsewhere would be the PS/2 ports used for older computer mouses and keyboards, which are still present on many systems.

While SCART is an odd sight to most consumers in the US, there are others like D-Terminal variants which, if you've seen any outside of Japan, it was probably on a PSP.
I knew this conversation was a mistake. Now I just want to read the fine print on the cables and dongles and monitors I'm using instead of doing my job, because I think this stuff is really **** interesting. :p

I suppose it comes down to a combination of what the outputting technology is capable of outputting, what the cable is capable of transmitting, what the display technology is capable of displaying, and the connector types are more connecting these points by standard interfaces. Although obviously the connector is going to be a limiter in some sense, since a 4-pin mini-DIN connector probably won't be able to transmit a highly complex signal (you mentioned a setup that could get pretty damn good over it though), it matters a lot more what is natively being output and processed on either end and whether the cable and connectors can communicate that sufficiently from A to B.

I'm now super curious as to whether we have more or less problems in our environment at work (which is a massive mess btw because we use a bunch of old tech and a thousand adapters for stuff because nonprofit budgets lol) based on whether it's DP-out-to-VGA-in or vice versa, and whether it's over a DP cable converting to VGA or vice versa. The dongles in question boast that they are re-formatting the signal, but that is specificaly in the direction of DP-to-VGA; I wonder too if we're a bit careless about just attaching things so the connectors are right and not paying attention to what direction is being "supported" by the interface. Even if it works 90% of the time, I imagine a lot of temporary blackouts/failures can be explained by us getting away with a very jank and haphazard setup.

It's so easy to just fall into the assumption that I understand what's going on just based on the interface/appearance but obviously ****'s way more complex than that.

EDIT: just saw your reply. I sort of was almost getting there earlier with my ending sentence but I think you just gave me another lightbulb moment. The signal and the connector are not synonymous, even if the connector can often give you an idea of what signal(s) are supported. Am I getting warmer?

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