Product Review (May 2004) - Key Digital Systems
ClearColor3 and ClearVideo3 Video Converters

Color-space converters have become a popular item for those consumers who have taken the plunge into home theater. While not everyone finds the need for such products, those who do can rely on companies like Key Digital Systems to provide high performance converters. The company has an excellent reputation for consistently delivering high performance video products in the ever-changing video market. Several years ago we reviewed their first generation Component-to-VGA and VGA-to-Component converters called the KD-CTCA2 and KD-VTCA1 respectively. Since then, they've introduced the new KD-CTCA3 (ClearVideo3) and KD-VTCA3 (ClearColor3) products. Similar to their predecessors, the ClearVideo3 and ClearColor3 products have been refined to offer better video performance and features than the earlier designs. The new products both have small enclosures, making them easy to tuck away behind video components.

ClearVideo3
The ClearVideo3 is designed to convert a component video signal (YPrPb) to an RGB format (also called VGA). It accepts a single set of component inputs via three RCA connectors. The unit detects the sync signal on the Y input and converts the component video signals to the VGA output. The unit also provides a buffered pass-through of the component video inputs so that the original component video can be used for another device. If no signal is detected on the component inputs, the ClearVideo3 will pass through the VGA input (also included on the adapter) directly to the VGA output. This video switching feature has some great applications for those with an RGB display and both an RGB and component source. The Clear Video 3 works with progressive scan DVD (480p) players and high definition sources (720p and 1080i). There are two small switches on the unit for configuring the drive syncs (separate HV for VGA or composite sync on H) and the RGBHV or RGsB mode. This offers great flexibility for many users. In addition, the unit is capable of driving video signals up to 50 feet.
The ClearVideo3 uses an HDTV colorimetry matrix to convert the color different signals and has a video bandwidth of -3dB at 110MHz (linear-phase passband) making it capable of passing high definition content without any substantial degradation.

We tested the ClearVideo3 with a Marantz MV8300 D-VHS VCR connected to the adapter's component video inputs and displayed the converted RGB video on our 21" Viewsonic G810 monitor. The image was absolutely stunning with no hint of noise in the picture. Colors looked very accurate with natural flesh tones and good saturation. We also connected our HDTV tuner that sends RGB video out through a VGA connector. We connected the tuner to the VGA input on the Clear Video 3 and when the component video turned off, the adapter automatically switched the tuner input to the monitor with no degradation in the signal from what we could tell.

ClearColor3
The ClearColor3 performs the complementary function of the ClearVideo3 by converting a single VGA input to a component video output (YPrPb) via three RCA connectors. Similar to the ClearVideo3 loop-though function, the ClearVideo3 has a VGA output that provides VGA capability when converting VGA to component video. The ClearColor3 unit works with progressive scan DVD (480p) players as well as high definition sources (720p and 1080i). The ClearVideo3 is ideal for systems that have a set-top box or HTPC (Home Theater PC) with a VGA output when the display device requires component video. The adapter is capable of driving video signals up to 50 feet in length. Like the ClearVideo3, the ClearColor3 uses an HDTV colorimetry matrix to convert the RGB signals and has a video bandwidth of -3dB at 110MHz (linear-phase passband).

The ClearColor3 adapter worked flawlessly in our system. We connected our HTPC to the unit and sent the processed component video signals to a Marantz VP-12S2 we were reviewing at the time. The 720p video signal looked excellent on this projector with superb color fidelity and low-noise in the black levels. We were also pleasantly surprised not to see any ringing in the signal even over a 20 foot cable.

Conclusion
Key Digital's color space converters not only perform well, but are reasonable priced. Videophiles will be pleased with the quality produced by the ClearVideo3 and ClearColor3 units. Installation is very easy and the value-added feature of video switching and loop-through functions make the product even more attractive to consumers integrating new video products into their home theater system. Without reservation, these new converters come highly recommended.

- Kevin Nakano


Review System

Projector: Marantz VP-12S2 High-Definition DLP™ Projector
Screen:
Stewart Filmscreen 100" Luxus Deluxe FireHawk Screenwall
Display: Viewsonic - G810 21" High Resolution Analog PC Display
Preamplifier/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra DTS/DD Preamp/Processor
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Bass Management: Miller & Kreisel BMC Mini 5.1 Bass Management Controller
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 TripoleŽ Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Set-top Box: Mitsubishi HD-5000 Receiver
HTPC: Sony Vaio PCV-RZ22G with Macro Image Technology MDP-100 HDTV Tuner
D-VHS VCR #1: Marantz MV8300 D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
D-VHS VCR #2: JVC HM-DH30000U D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
DVD/CD/SACD Player: Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player
DVD Audio/Video Player: Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M 400-Disc DVD Changer
Laserdisc Player: Pioneer CLD-D704 CD/VCD/LD Player
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables
Video Generator: Sencore VP300 SDTV/HDTV Video Pattern Generator
Video Signal Analyzer: Sencore VSA794 NTSC Video Signal Analyzer
Color Analyzer: Sencore CP5000 Multi-Display Color Analyzer


Review - At a Glance

Key Digital Systems ClearVideo3 Component-to-RGB Adapter
Model: KD-VTC-A3

Features:

  • One Component Video (YPrPb) Input with Component output Pass-Through Capability
  • One VGA Output with VGA Input Pass-Through Capability
  • Supports 480p, 720p and 1080i video signals
  • Compatible with Component Video HDTV Set Top Boxes
  • Compatible with NTSC and PAL interlaced and progressive formats
  • Auto switching between RGB input and Component Video input converted to RGB output
  • Auto switching RGBHV input connected to RGBHV output when no sync on "Y" detected
  • Output RGB formats: RGBHV or RGsB
  • Outputs can drive cables up to 50 feet
  • 1 V p-p @ 75 Ohm terminated
  • HDTV colorimetry matrix
  • Video bandwidth -3 dB at 110 MHz with linear-phase passband

    Control and Adjustments:

  • Auto Mode automatically adjusts for ANY incoming video scanning format
  • H sync selection: Composite Sync (CS) or H drive Accepted Scanning Formats
  • 50 Hz or 60 Hz refresh: 480i, 480p, 576i, 576p, 1080i/540p, 720p
  • Output scanning format is always the SAME as the input scanning format Outputs
  • One RGBHV output (DB15 output connector)
  • One Component Video pass-through output, always active
  • RGB: 0.7 V p-p, 75 Ohm, terminated at the source
  • Negative TTL sync for H&V in RGBHV mode, or negative Sync-on-Green for RGsB mode
  • Polarity of H&V sync for pass-through RGBHV is the same as input H&V polarity

    Mechanical:

  • RCA (for Component Video) and DB15 (frequently used for VGA/computer) connectors
  • Size: 2" x 4.75" x 0.75"
  • Weight: 1 lbs.
  • Enclosure type: Plastic


    Key Digital Systems ClearColor3 RGB-to-Component Adapter
    Model KD-CTCA3

    Features:

  • Converts one VGA (RGBHV) Input to Component Video (YPrPb) Output
  • Smallest VGA to Component Video Adapter on the market today
  • Supports SCART
  • VGA loop-through input
  • Works with Set Top Boxes and HT Personal computers
  • Supports all formats: 480p, 720p, and 1080i/540p, NTSC and PAL (interlaced/progressive)
  • One Component Video (YPrPb) Input with Component output Pass-Through Capability
  • Special Sync mode (switchable) for Panasonic Direct View/ RCA Set Top Box combination
  • Special Composite Sync decoding for compatibility with SCART RGB CS inputs
  • Auto Mode automatically adjusts for ANY incoming video scanning formats
  • SCART or RGBHV input sync selection
  • Outputs can drive cables up to 50 feet
  • HDTV colorimetry matrix
  • Video bandwidth -3 dB at 110 MHz with linear-phase passband

    Control and Adjustments:

  • One VGA (RGBHV) input on DB15 connector (used for VGA/computer)
  • 50 Hz or 60 Hz refresh: 480i, 480p, 576i, 576p, 1080i/540p, 720p
  • Output scanning format is always the SAME as the input scanning format Outputs
  • One RGBHV output (DB15 output connector)
  • Extra DB15 connector for loop-through
  • RGB: 0.7 V p-p, 75 Ohm, terminated
  • H&V Sync: positive or negative TTL
  • Outputs Component Video (YPrPb) via three RCA connectors
  • Drives Component Video monitor, plus VGA monitor (via loop-through), plus SCART

    Mechanical:

  • DB15 (typical for VGA) and RCA (for Component Video) connectors
  • Size: 2" x 4.75" x 0.75"
  • Weight: 1 lbs.
  • Enclosure type: Plastic

  • Company Information
    Key Digital Systems, Inc.
    314 West 231 Street, Suite 504
    Riverdale, New York 10463, USA
    Phone: 718-796-7178
    Fax: 718-796-6664
    Email: info@keydigital.com
    Website: www.keydigital.com

    Source: Manufacturer Loan
    Warranty: 2 years parts and labor
    MSRP: ClearVideo3 $299, ClearColor3 $249

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