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Review: VD-W3 Wii HDMI Upscaler

Justin Sharp

VDIGI Electronics recently released their latest product for the Wii in the form of their VD-W3 Wii HDMI Upscaler Processor. Following in the foot steps of their VD-W2 Wii VGA cable, the VD-W3 allows Wii owners even more video output options. Not only does the VD-W3 offer HDMI, it also offers an output to DVI when used with an HDMI/DVI adapter. The VD-W3 isn’t going to automatically make your games HD, but it definitely provides a nice improvement in the video quality. Check out all full review below for details.

Since this is a hardware review, I’ve listed out the hardware I’ve tested the HDMI upscaler as well as the Wii games I played at various resolutions.

Our test environment:

DVI
Samsung 21.6” LCD (tested at 1680×1050 resolution)

HDMI
Samsung LED 40” (tested at 1080p resolution)

Games played/tested for quality:

  • Cave Story (WiiWare)
  • Rock Band 2 (Wii)
  • Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
  • Red Steel 2 (Wii)
  • Netflix Streaming Video

Video Quality

Editor’s Note: The following images are from VDIGI’s website and show screens from a video capture card at 1080i, not 1080p, so quality will be even a little better when using at 1080p.

Super Mario Galaxy/New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Left hand side is 480p and Right hand side is 1080i, Click for the below pictures to display the bigger image (~500KB to 1MB in each file size, longer download time may needed)

click for bigger image size (~1.5mb file size) click for bigger image size (~1.5mb file size)

click for bigger image size (~1.5mb file size) click for bigger image size (~1.5mb file size)

click for bigger image size (~1.5mb file size) click for bigger image size (~1.5mb file size)

click for bigger image size (~1.5mb file size) click for bigger image size (~1.5mb file size)

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Left hand side is 480p and Right hand side is 1080i, Click for the below pictures to display the bigger image (~500KB to 1MB in each file size, longer download time may needed)

I’ve been playing games on my Wii using a Component cable (which gives you 480p resolution) for a long time, so I’ve been accustomed to a progressive scan output. For those that have played Wii games in both 480i and 480p, you’ll know that the progressive output is much sharper overall. With VDIGI’s Wii HDMI Upscaler, you can now output at many different resolutions to your computer monitor or HDTV. For monitors, you can select from 1280×1024, 1440×900, and/or 1680×1050. For HDTVs, you can select normal 480p, 720p, 1080i, and/or 1080p. For my testing, I chose the highest resolutions for both my monitor and HDTV to see the results.

From my monitor, I noticed a very sharp picture when I was playing Super Mario Galaxy. The text was more defined and the image itself felt brighter and more rich. There were still jagged edges on polygons, but that’s to be expected since this is only an upscaler. Wii games do not inherently have HD textures, so don’t be surprised if the picture doesn’t look much different than at 480p. I also didn’t notice any lag whatsoever while playing.

From my HDTV, the picture was a definite improvement albeit a small one. Text was definitely more defined at 1080p but that was most of the improvement in visual quality. Red Steel 2 looked great and ran in 60fps, but it does that even without the VD-W3. As far as lag goes, I played Rock Band 2 quite a while and noticed some pretty noticeable lag. If you’re playing songs on experts and get to some tricky solos, you’ll definitely notice the lag as well. Most modern music games have options for adjusting for lag so it isn’t a big issue.

VD-W3 Hardware

The hardware itself is very solid. The unit is fairly compact and will fit most anywhere you put it. The unit comes with one HDMI port, one audio jack, and a number of DIP switches to control the resolution and mode of output. The VD-W3 plugs into the video port on the Wii and is powered through one of the USB ports. The VD-W3 doesn’t come with an HDMI cable or a DVI to HDMI adapter so you’ll have to buy those separately. Most people who own an HDTV will most likely have an HDMI cable already, but if you plan on connecting a monitor, you’ll have to pay a little extra for the adapter. Switching between resolutions is done by simply moving the DIP switches into a configuration shown on the unit and then resetting the device. This will cause the video to turn off then come back on at the new resolution. Overall the hardware is very well designed and easy to use.

Pros

  • Solid hardware design
  • Easy of use
  • Both HDMI/DVI output
  • No extra power source needed

Cons

  • Won’t increase your video quality by much
  • Doesn’t come with HDMI cable or DVI/HDMI adapter
  • Introduces some video lag

Conclusion

The VD-W3 is a very solid product, but keep in mind, this won’t turn your Wii into an HD console automatically. This is merely an upscaler which will improve video quality and provide you with 2 more options of connecting your Wii to a TV/Monitor. If you don’t already own component cables for your Wii, the VD-W3 is right up your alley. However, if you’ve already spent $30-$35 on component cables, there’s not much to justify paying another $59 for the VD-W3. If you really want more video output options, buy the VD-W3. If not, you’re best bet is to hold on to your component cables and wait for the eventual successor to the Wii to get your HD fix.

The VD-W3 Wii HDMI Upscaler Processor gets a 7/10

If you’d like to purchase a VD-W3 Wii HDMI Upscaler, visit the following link


VD-W3 Wii HDMI Upscaler Processor

US$59.00

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  • friendofthefoot

    the monster cable component is same or not as good as the VD-V3?

    • http://www.purenintendo.com justin

      Well, the VD-W3 will output to 1080p whereas the Monster component cable will only do 480p. Also the VD-W3 gives you more connection options including HDMI and DVI. I guess if you don’t have an HDMI connection on your TV, you’ll want to go with a standard component cable, but otherwise the VD-W3 is a solid buy if you’re coming from the standard 480i composite cables.

      Hope that helps!

  • http://www.purenintendo.com/members/zhelkus/ Zhelkus

    Read your review and it is pretty detailed. I already have a set of component cables hooked up to an old LCD Panasonic Viera. I’m lucky enough to have such and old LCD because the native resolution for it is 640×480 so I get absolutely no lag whatsoever.

    Some time later we purchased some HDTVs and I tried hooking up the Wii with the component cables to them but even if I set the TV to game mode, turn off image enhancements and sharpness, etc. there would still be an itty ounce of lag.

    What I’m looking for is an upscaler that will reduce lag, in other words, do the upscaling so that the TV doesn’t have to. Your review is one of the few on the internet that addresses this topic. Does it process the image quickly enough? Does it process the image faster if it is set to 720p? Have you considered tweaking where possible to reduce the lag you found?

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  • http://www.euronetwork.co.uk/products/cable-assemblies/ Cable Assemblies

    I was out of town last week and forget to bring my HDMI cable. Lucky there is a store nearby.