Some time ago, we told you about a new accessory which would allow you to connect your Wii to a display using HDMI or DV-I. In addition, it can upscale video from the system's native 480i resolution up as far as 1080p. The VD-31 from VDGI Electronics is that product.
We got our hands on one and put it through its paces. How well does it work? Read on and find out.
The VD-W3 is a rather unassuming little device. On one end, it sports a connector for the Wii's video output port and a USB plug for power. The other end features an HDMI port and a 3.5mm audio port (used to output sound when using a DV-I adapter). It's rather no-frills, except for a blue light which blinks when no signal is passing through the box, which stays solid while in use.
Connecting the device is, as one might expect, simple as pie. Insert Tab A into Slot B and you're all hooked up. You may not quite be finished yet, however. The VD-W3 does not automatically detect the maximum resolution of displays and adjust the output resolution to compensate. Instead, it uses a series of dip switches on the bottom of the device for configuration.
Personally, I prefer this design choice over automating the process as it's one less thing that can go wrong without my having caused the problem. But it may be a mild inconvenience to the odd user who moves their Wii between displays frequently.
There are a decent amount of options to work with, as well. The VD-W3 supports both 16:9 (480p/720p/1080i/1080p) and 4:3 aspect ratios (1280x1024/1440x900/1680x1050). There are also switches which adjust "Display Mode" and "Color Mode" with two options for each. Having played with all the combinations of these, I did not notice any difference between these modes, so I'm left wondering what exactly they do.
The primary function of this device is to enable Wii users to connect to displays which don't feature a composite or component input. And, for that, it works brilliantly. But what about the upscaling? Does it make the Wii look better on those fancy, high-definition displays?
Yes and no. It really seems to vary on a case-by-case basis. The edges of everything are softened, which takes some of the severity out of jagged lines. It works for some games, particularly ones where the palette used tends toward more muted tones. Particularly bright games, however, wind up suffering a bit. New Super Mario Bros. Wii wound up looking rather muddy at 1080p.
The Wii simply isn't designed to push out crisp, high-definition visuals and nothing is ever going to change that. This double-edged sword can help make some titles more palatable, but you will notice a detrimental effect on others, which makes it really hard to recommend from that standpoint. If you need a way to connect your Wii to an HDMI or DV-I display, this is an affordable and capable solution. At $59.99, it's easily half the price or less than most devices which handle this function in a universal capacity and gets the job done.
The VD-W3 can be purchased from VDIGI Electronics.
reviewed by Conrad Zimmerman