Task: Connect Your Atari Computer to an LED Screen
Needed: LED screen, connectors
Time: 30-60 mins
I previously posted some details on how to connect your Atari computer to an LCD screen using composite video or composite converted to S-video. What if you want to connect your Atari to an LED screen using HDMI? Converting composite to HDMI is not as straightforward as converting to S-video because HDMI is a more complex signal. To do a good job of this you really need a professional video processor unit that can cost $500 to $1000 or more. I have not been willing to drop this kind of cash on a video converter solution. There are a number of low-cost converters out there but you really get what you pay for. I tried three different models and report here on my mixed experience.
The first one I tried was the Armor3 that was recommended by several different people on Atari Age and elsewhere. This one comes in a small plastic case with composite video and sound in and HDMI out. It runs about $20 and is widely available. Here is a screenshot I took of an Atari 130XE running Donkey Kong with the HDMI out connected to a Dell 43″ LED monitor. This was not as bright as the one below and always comes with the green stripes on the right side.
The second one I tried was the Neoteck that was also recommended by several different people on Atari Age and elsewhere. This one comes in a small metal case with composite video and sound in and HDMI out. It runs about $20 and is also widely available. Here is the comparable screenshot. This one was a little bit brighter and a tad crisper. It did not have the green artifacts of the Armor3. I like this one a bit better.
The third one I tried was the Tendak that converts both composite and S-video to HDMI. This one comes in a larger metal case and runs about $30. I was particularly excited to try this one since the S-video is such better quality that composite. However, my video signal out showed up only in black and white. I tried all sorts of different cables and several different monitors and TVs. No dice. There are a number of negative reviews online that report the same thing. It appears to be a common defect. I have been unwilling to risk another $30 for one of these or another one that converts S-video. Maybe down the road when I get up the nerve to splurge on a more expensive professional video processor.
For an inexpensive solution, I recommend you purchase the Neoteck to convert composite to HDMI. It worked well for me and the price is right at about $15 to $20.
It is really hit or miss with these cheaper converters. You might need to try two or three as I did to find one that works with your gear. I personally find this one of the more frustrating aspects of retrocomputing.
Here is a later post on the more expensive RetroTINK solution with superior digital video.