A WiiNintendo product review by hattrick.
Product – VDIGI VD-W3 Wii HDMI Upscaler
Obtained – Directly from VDIGI, to review unit
Extra Notes – Tried on 3 different HDTVs; Was not able to test or review the DVI output.
What is the VDIGI VD-W3?
VDIGI has been working on ways to display the Wii console on various devices for some time. Their VD-W2 unit was able to display an image on a VGA monitor. The VD-W3 goes a step further and allows you to use HDMI. Essentially, the unit consists of a box with 1 input, which plugs into the Wii, and 1 HDMI output. The unit also contains an output for a separate audio signal, if you choose to plug it into your stereo, via 3.5mm cable (not included). This separate output can also be used if you decide to plug the VD-W3 into a DVI monitor, using the included HDMI to DVI converter. One last cable that is attached to the unit plugs into your Wii’s USB port, simply to supply power.
The VD-W3 boasts up to 1080p output, with options to switch to 480p, 720p, or 1080i. With the instruction booklet claiming that it will always down-convert to the highest setting, I am still unsure as to why these other options are available. You also have switches to select 2 different modes and to switch between normal or enhance color. While the enhanced color seemed to make a bit of a difference, the 2 modes did not. Their purpose lies in that sometimes a game will not fill the entire screen (for various reasons), so you would choose the mode that does fit the screen. However, I did not find this always fix the problem.
How does it look?
At first glance, you will notice about 3 things – deeper color, somewhat smoother edges, and the fact that this unit does not output true 1080p graphics. While many may claim that the VD-W3 was never intended to convert the Wii from 480p to full 1080p, it does give the illusion that is the intent. What it does is converts the max 480p component signal into an HDMI signal. In the process, the VD-W3 will produce a better image than capable with component cables. Furthermore, the signal is much better than when using the included RCA cables.
I tested the VD-W3 on several Wii games and channels – The Mii Channel, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Super Mario Galaxy, The Conduit, and Monster Hunter Tri (demo). Attempting to get a wide cross-section of the games included on the Wii, including those with various frames-per-minute, all produced essentially the same results – deeper colors and slightly smoother edges.
The main item I compared the VD-W3 to was my third-party component cables, since these produce a better image than the RCA cables. Similarly, I thought it fitting to compare additional accessories to each other, since most people will question whether it is more cost-beneficial to purchase component cables or the VD-W3.
I also tested the unit with Netflix for Wii. In all honesty, the VD-W3 makes streaming movies look worse than using component cables. It creates a grainy picture, and the colors are often off, especially in skin tone. However, after speaking with VDIGI on this issue, they have told me they are working on a firmware update to correct this. The VD-W3 was created for games, and subsequently does not currently “support” Netflix movies. GameCube games heeded similar results as Wii games, with richer colors and smoother edges.
Would I recommend it:
There are several benefits. For starters, the VD-W3 does smooth some edges that many people find annoying when using their Wii on an HDTV. You will still find some “jaggies,” but they will be cut down by approximately 25-50% in most games and applications. The colors are usually deeper and richer in tone. For the most part, this is good, but at times, the deeper colors often result in a need to brighten the video output (i.e. Monster Hunter Tri and The Conduit). After doing so, the games looked a bit better, but there was not a huge difference.
After trying out the VD-W3 on several games and applications, I cannot say I would recommend it, unless you fall into at least 1 of 3 categories. First, if you have a deep desire to get rid of as many jagged edges as possible, this unit might be for you. Second, if you have a need to connect your Wii using HDMI or DVI, this would be a good solution. Third, if you want to connect your Wii to an extremely large HDTV, the VD-W3 will prevent stretching, which often occurs. If you do not fall into either of these positions, you would be better off purchasing a set of component cables for much cheaper. That is probably the main concern – the cost of this unit would assume a much greater output quality.
Concluding Overall Impressions
While the VD-W3 does create a better picture on most games when compared to the RCA cables included with the Wii or third-party component cables, the overall results may surprise you. However, if you have a need to fix “jaggies,” plug your Wii into HDMI or DVI, or connect your Wii to a very large HDTV, this might be just what the doctor ordered. If not, just grab a pair of component cables.
ADDITIONAL POSTS & RESOURCES:
- VDIGI Drops Price from $79 to $59
- Connecting & first video test (Super Mario Galaxy & Mii Channel)
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii video test
- More comparison screens (my Flickr set)
- More video tests coming soon…
- Looking to purchase? Check back soon!
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