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Review: DblScan 4000 by PLP
By: Jason Compton
Back in the old days, people tried all sorts of things to get rid of
high-res flicker, because it looked really nasty on a 1084 monitor.
Turning down the contrast was just annoying, so most who were serious about
the problem would buy devices like Commodore and Microway flickerfixers,
Flicker Free Videos, and would install these in their machines. They let
you put a VGA monitor on your system so that high-res screens wouldn't have
nasty interlace jitters.
Then, the wonderful minds at Commodore put a flicker-fixer in the A3000.
And it worked, overall, wonderfully. But when AGA machines came around,
there was little relief in sight. The only good option was to get a nice
multisync monitor and pretend the interlace wasn't there.
But the problem THEN became that good multisync monitors (those that can
handle the Amiga's 15khz modes) became very hard to find--and those you
COULD find were rather expensive. So Petsoff Limited Partnership has come
up with a solution. For about $200, you can put your A4000's built-in
video on a standard VGA 15-pin socket, with all of your 15khz screens
bumped up to a nice steady 31khz display.
Which is exactly what it does, for most people. The DblScan 4000 is a tiny
card that fits in the video slot (or one of your video slots, if you have a
4000T) and promotes the built-in AGA display modes to 31khz where
applicable. (DBL modes, which are at 27 khz, are not affected.) Less than
a dozen chips are on the card, and installation is brutally easy. No
software drivers, it just works.
That is, unless you have one of the makes of power supply that the DblScan
4000 is unhappy with. Even after PLP sent a replacement board with a
better capacitor, to try to get around the power supply glitches, our
desktop A4000 was not happy with the DblScan 4000. The display would lose
all cohesion within 15 minutes, which was a shame. On most Commodore 4000
desktops, and all those with beefier power supplies, this is not a problem.
My German (Eagle-built) A4000T performs wonderfully with the DblScan
installed. Occasionally, there are a few seconds of "fuzzy" display soon
after powering on, but the problem quickly clears up.
So, what's the point of owning one? Even if you're a self-proclaimed power
applications user and have no truck with games, you still need a 15khz
display to view certain key screens, such as the Early Startup Screen and
gurus. A standard VGA monitor will not give you these. Some older
software just refuses to promote properly, and requires a 15khz display.
Multisync monitors continue to be pretty pricey for Amiga users. While the
1764 is a great product, it is not available globally. The 20" TIMM
supports 15khz modes but is too blurry for some. This card allows you to
put the finest Iiyama SVGA monitor on your system and use it like a champ.
The only competing product I've seen mention of is sold by Power Computing
of the UK. While reviews were favorable, the card is roughly 3X the price
of the DblScan. Compatibility with other Amiga hardware and software is
impeccable--basically, not a whole lot can go wrong.
If you need a video display solution on a standard VGA monitor that keeps
compatibility with 15khz modes for games and other projects, the DblScan is
a great choice.
Retail price: US$180, $15 shipping
PO Box 1009
++358 53 451 5223 fax