HDTV Upconverter

Can you get high-definition images from low-definition sources? Cerritos, CA–based ADS Technologies claims it's possible using its new "HDTV Upconverter," a $599 outboard device.

Known primarily as a maker of PC-based video editing systems, ADS announced the Upconverter in late December, with bold assertions that the processor can deliver standard definition, enhanced definition, and high-definition video (SDTV, EDTV, HDTV) from any video source. Available through retailers as well as over the Internet, the product is being pitched to owners of HD-ready monitors and video display systems who lack acceptable HD feeds. ADS describes the Upconverter as a product "ideal for those who have invested in the cost of an HDTV-capable television but who are limited to the standard broadcast quality content still used by most stations and cable companies."

The company claims the device outputs cleaner signals than are available from similar products from other companies, at far lower cost. A supplied remote control lets users select any of four common ATSC formats—480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080I—as well as seven levels of resolution, such as 1366 x 768 pixels or 960 x 480 pixels. The Upconverter features 10-bit D/A conversion for progressive or interlaced output, a 3:2 pulldown circuit for best images from film-based sources, as well as a built-in "motion adaptive de-interlacing" circuit from Genesis Microchip, to reduce processing artifacts caused by upconverting interlaced source material to progressive scan. 1080I signals can pass through the Upconverter without any processing, for a direct connection to compatible displays, or con be downconverted to other ATSC formats for use with displays supporting another native rate.

The HDTV Upconverter doubles as an NTSC cable-ready tuner and audio/video switching hub. Inputs include one analog coaxial "F" connector, three sets of standard and HD component video, three S-video, three RCA composite video, and nine pairs of stereo audio jacks. There are no DVI, HDMI, or IEEE-1394 connectors, but those may be included in future versions of the product, according to the announcement. Outputs include one set of HD component video and one pair of right/left RCA audio jacks.