Review - Video Turtle
William Near

What is a Video Turtle?

The Video Turtle from Turtle Enterprises is a device that allows you to view the AGA/ECS NTSC modes of your Amiga on an S-Video capable television set. Oh, I know what you're thinking, "ah, another A520-type device", but that would be dead wrong. The Video Turtle has little in common with the old A520, especially when it comes to picture quality. The Video Turtle consists of a small box that has a 9-pin RGB input and a 9v DC power supply connection on one end, and an S-Video port on the other. The power for the unit is supplied by the Amiga's video port, so there's no need for a separate power supply. Installation of the Video Turtle is simply a matter of hooking up the cable (a wide variety of cables are available) to your Amiga's 23-pin video port and then plugging the other end into the Turtle's RGB input and power supply ports. The S-Video cable is plugged into the other end of the Turtle and to your television's S-Video port. No additional software or drivers are needed.

What the heck is S-Video?

S-Video is an enhancement to the normal NTSC television picture we've all become accustomed to. S-Video provides vast improvements in the number of lines of resolution, as well as better clarity and color in the viewable picture. Of course, the newer the television set, the higher the resolution and clarity should be. You also get a larger viewing area by using an S-Video television and the Video Turtle, compared to a monitor.

How does it look -- bottom line?

Let's sum up how the output looks from the Video Turtle in a single word: outstanding! I honestly wasn't expecting as much as I got from the Turtle.

I ran everything from my Workbench screen to Scala and Pac Man on my RCA 27" television. The overall picture quality was very good, as was the sharpness and detail. The only adjustment that I had to make was in the television's contrast. Lowering the contrast actually made the output look better, at least to my eyes.

Running the Scala demos on the 27" screen really was impressive. The colors were sharp and distinct. Workbench looked great too -- well, as good as it can look in NTSC Hi-Res Laced with 16 colors. Playing that old classic Pac Man on my big screen made it seem almost new.

Is the Video Turtle for real?

Yes, the Video Turtle is for real. Anyone who has a need for displaying NTSC screenmodes on a larger screen would be well advised to seriously look into the Video Turtle. If you are looking to replace your old 1084 monitor then you should consider the Turtle and an S-Video television as a viable alternative to purchasing another cheap monitor.

Anyone who is into doing video presentations will love this device. In about 30 seconds you can have the Turtle hooked up and stun your audience with a great looking large-screen display of your work.

The Video Turtle isn't limited to just Amiga use. You can hook virtually any device that outputs a 15.75 kHz. signal to the Turtle. Any video game console that doesn't already have an S-Video output should be compatible. Forget about all that RF interference from those junky modulators that come with most game consoles -- the Turtle will totally eliminate it.

The Video Turtle is priced at $149.95 and comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. This is a lot of money, and I hope that the price will come down in the future. If you already own an S-Video capable television, then there wouldn't be any additional cost incurred. The other alternatives to the Video Turtle are the A520, and flicker fixers. The A520 goes for about $15, and you definitely get what you pay for with this option -- not much. A flicker fixer would probably be a good choice if you wanted to take advantage of all the cheap VGA monitors that are so abundant in the clone world. A flicker fixer would set you back about $125-$225 (new, depending on brand and features), and there is even a unit available that will output to S-Video too.

Turtle Enterprises
(626) 967-3341 (info)
800-846-3474 (orders)

(c) William Near 1998

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