RetroTink 4K Announced and Boy is it Overpriced!

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Through his blog, Mike Chi, the engineer behind the RetroTink line of products, announced the next generation. The RetroTink 4K features, you guessed it; 4K HDMI output and even HDMI input, this time.

First and foremost, just because I think the RetroTink 4K, at approximately $1000 is overpriced, does not mean that I think it will be anything less than premium. I’ve owned the original as well as the Pro for some time. Although, I’ve largely moved to other technologies to enjoy my retro games, I still use the RetroTink 2x Pro for specific purposes. I’ve covered both the original 2x and Pro on my YouTube channel numerous times.

RetroTink playlist from my YouTube channel

Almost all of the videos in the playlist to the left feature a comparison with another product. Use your judgement to determine what’s best for you.

Where, When and How Much?

Currently targeting a late-2023 release. The exact price is to be determined since we are still exploring multiple options on how to best source the FPGA. Best guidance is to budget $1,000 and we hope you will be pleasantly surprised when the actual price is determined.

A sale date will be posted on Twitter and the RetroTINK website as soon as we are ready. No pre-orders: units will be sold and shipped from inventory.

What Inputs are Supported?

We’ve designed the RT4K to accept virtually all retro video sources to best serve everyone’s unique requirements. On the back, we have component, HD-15 (VGA), and HDMI inputs plus a TOSLINK receiver for optical audio.

The SCART port lives on the side, and the front has a S-video and composite jack hidden behind a sliding door.

The RT4K inputs are super flexible. Both the HD-15 and SCART inputs can accept any analog format (with the exception of RGBHV for SCART), opening up options for streamlining your switching setup.

We’ve also tried hard to make the RT4K accept signals from non-mainstream console sources such as PCs and arcade boards. There are currently settings for standard consumer video (240p/288, 480i/576i, 480p/576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p) as well as retro PCs (EGA/DOS 70 Hz, VGA, SVGA, XGA, UXGA). Custom profiles with the correct sampling and cropping can be quickly set up for sources that do not yet have built-in definitions using the menu.

The HDMI inputs can accept virtually any custom resolution and frame rate within the maximum bandwidth of the receiver. This means that the RT4K will fully support off-spec sources, such as MiSTer DirectVideo.

What Does it Output?

The primary output of the RT4K is, of course, 4K60 (3840 x 2160, 60 Hz). Other standard built-in modes include 1080p, 1440p and 480p. If you need a custom resolution, drop a modeline text file on to the SD card and they’ll automatically appear in the menu!

The RT4K HDMI 2.0 transmitter also supports high frame rate outputs (with some input side limitations) for advanced users.

Like the TINK-5X, the 4K is a minimal lag device with the same Frame Lock and Gen Lock modes. Triple buffering is also here to eliminate drop outs during resolution changes.

How Does it Scale?

In short? Whatever you want. The RT4K scaling engine lets you scale/crop your source precisely to your individual specifications. Aspect ratio correction and filtering mode (sharp pixel, bilinear, etc.) are adjustable. Or use a free-scaling mode to just define the exact pixel numbers you need. At 4K resolution, you can perform perfect integer scaling for many common resolutions with perfectly sharp pixels, if you prefer that versus a CRT look. Even non-integer scales look great with bilinear sharp filtering that maintains a crisp look. And yes, you can get optimal sampling at perfect 4:3 aspect ratios at the same time! The RT4K can automatically perform the necessary PAR transforms for you as well.

Don’t worry if this sounds like too much work, by default, most sources will automatically be centered and cropped correctly. The RT4K also has modes to automatically expand/shrink the image while keeping the correct proportions to make adjustments quick and easy.

CRT (and LCD) Effects!

The TINK-4K will have advanced CRT simulation options including customizable scanlines, phosphor masks, and even beam mis-convergence. For those of you with HDR OLEDs, the RT4K has the necessary resources to output true, Rec. 709 to Rec. 2020 color-corrected HDR output that really bridges the gap between digital displays and CRTs.

We’re looking forward to seeing the community having fun coming up with and sharing CRT profiles (more on that below)!

Profiles!

Save, download and share up to 65,536 profiles on to the SD card. A profile can be set to automatically load on power up or be assigned to a remote control button for quick-access. Enjoy!

One of the biggest complaints against SCART has been “loose” connections. Unfortunately, today’s SCART gear just isn’t as a good as the original European parts from yesteryear. That’s just a fact, and we can’t change that.

We Love (really!) SCART

However, we can try to add our own improvements. The RT4K has PCB-mounted threaded screw holes flanking the SCART connector. Hopefully this will allow the community to build after-market SCART heads and attachments that are just as secure as HD-15 connectors.

As much as we joke at hating SCART, we recognize and appreciate its role in history and in your setup.

The Remote

The RT4K will include a premium, fully custom remote with buttons that allow you to quickly access key settings. If you lose it, a universal remote should be able to cover you and still give you access to key functions.

Other Common Questions

  • Does it work with MiSTer/Analogue – Yes! The MiSTer direct video mode works great with the RT4K. Analogue consoles may require a little more adjustment, but we expect pre-made profiles to appear in no time.
  • Rotation — theoretically possible, but not planned for release.
  • Smoothing — same as above.
  • Movies — the goal of the TINK products has always been games and games first, but expect to see developments for options to enhance video playback and the movie experience.
  • Control/Integration — the RT4K has facilities for control via the HD-15 as well as USB ports. We are planning on some sort of command interface, to be developed post launch.
  • Does it take TTL sync — yes on the HD15. SCART port is protected against TTL damage, but would recommend caution as always.
  • Power — USB-C 5V 2A.
  • Is the TINK-5X dead — we still plan on supporting the TINK-5X and will continue to share development across the two platforms as much as possible. Keep in mind though, that we are still very much a 1-person team 🙂

Other Cool Stuff

The TINK-4K case is customizable (but don’t tell our industrial designer). We’re looking forward to the community making replacement parts for the top logo insert (E) and the front cap (C) and sliding door (D). Make 3D printed parts with your own logo and colors!

Retrotink.com

Now that you can see all of the features, I stand by original statement. The new RetroTink is overpriced, for me. I would love to try one out but I will not buy one.

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