For many people, the PlayStation 1 and 2 provided some of our fondest gaming memories. Remember the original Kingdom Hearts? How about the early Tony Hawk games, or the original Call of Duty? And who could forget Final Fantasy VII, which is so good that 23 years later, it’s getting a remake. If you’re a fan of classic games, these two systems are an indispensable part of your collection. Unfortunately, the PS1 and PS2 were built before the age of high definition TVs. Like the Nintendo 64 and the GameCube, you need to use an adapter to connect them correctly.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “My TV has an RCA input. Why not use that?” And it’s true that most HDTVs do have a set of RCA plugs. However, these don’t always provide the best picture possible. For one thing, most HDTVs don’t provide upscaling from the RCA plugs. As a result, you can get a blocky picture that actually looks worse than the original. This can be hugely disappointing, especially if you love to enjoy the sharp lines and bright colors of retro games.
Admittedly, you could just use a good RCA to HDMI converter. But what if your original PlayStation video wire is out of commission? In that case, you’d end up spending more than you’d need to. You’d have to buy a connection wire, along with a converter. A better option is to buy a PlayStation to HDMI converter, similar to the original Xbox converters we recently reviewed.
Today, we’ll look at three of the best PlayStation 1 and 2 to HDMI converters on the market. First up is the POUND HDMI HD Link Cable for PlayStation. This converter provides colors and graphics that are exceptionally true to the original, with a robust design. Next on our list is the LevelHike HDMI Cable for PS1 & PS2. This cable is designed to provide HD upscaling, with both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. Finally, we’ll review the EEEKit PS2 to HDMI Converter. This converter also provides upscaling, but with very low latency. Once we’ve finished our reviews, we’ll wrap up by rendering a final verdict. Let’s begin!
POUND HDMI HD Link Cable for PlayStation
The POUND HDMI HD Link Cable for PlayStation is the most compact unit on our list. It measures 2.5 inches long, 1.3 inches wide, and a slim 0.6 inches thick. It’s also very lightweight, measuring only one ounce. This light weight is ideal for wall-mounted TVs. If your adapter is hanging on the end of a cable, it’s not going to put stress on your HDMI port. It’s designed to attach easily to the back of your PlayStation, with a short, six-inch cable. There’s also a six-foot HDMI cable included, to attach to your television. Finally, there’s a short Micro USB cable for power. This cable is supposed to be plugged into one of the USB ports on your PlayStation.
The converter itself is very well constructed. It has a slick aluminum shell, with a black anodized finish that’s easy to dust off. On one end, you’ll see the PlayStation display cable we already mentioned. On the other, there’s an HDMI port for connecting to your TV. Next to the HDMI port, there’s also a 3.5mm aux jack. This makes it easy to plug in a pair of headphones if your TV doesn’t have a headphone port. On the top, there’s an attractive “Pound” logo, printed in white text. Next to the logo, there’s a small LED light that lights up when the unit is powered. The Micro USB power port is located on the front. And on the bottom, there are four small rubber skids that will keep it from sliding off a shelf.
Along with the converter and the cables, you get a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. Most electronics fail in the first year if they’re going to fail at all. As a result, this one-year warranty is more than good enough. In addition, Pound provides 24/7 customer service.
Conversion and Compatibility
Because the POUND HDMI HD Link Cable has a built-in PlayStation cable, it’s not suitable for other older game systems. Instead, you’ll need to use an adapter that’s designed for that system. That said, you’ll get excellent fidelity to the original PlayStation graphics. If you’re using a PlayStation 2, you’ll need to set the graphics to Y Pb Pr or Y Cb Cr. If you use CVBS, you’re going to see weird random color schemes that look nothing like the original games.
Another issue you may run into is that your HDTV must support 480p resolution. Many HDTVs only support 720p and up, which can create issues. As a result, you’ll want to check your TV’s specs before you buy. That said, because the PlayStation 2 outputs at 480p, you won’t have to worry about any artifacts due to upscaling. With the PlayStation 1, the native resolution is 240p, so you might see some small artifacts. But overall, the quality is still excellent. Best of all, the output is automatically in a 4:3 aspect ratio. You won’t have to worry about the image stretching and distorting the original graphics. Again, this will depend on your TV, since some TVs will automatically stretch 4:3 inputs to fit the screen. But if you’ve got the right TV, you’re looking at an excellent converter.
LevelHike HDMI Cable for PS1 & PS2
The LevelHike HDMI Cable for PS1 & PS2 is a bit beefier than the last converter we looked at. It weighs almost half a pound, which is very heavy for the size. This is mostly due to the built-in upscaling hardware, which we’ll talk about in a minute. The PlayStation connection cable is attached to one side of the converter, and measures one foot in length. This makes placement relatively easy, whether behind your PlayStation or next to it on the shelf. You also get a six-foot HDMI cable and a six-foot Micro USB cable. In theory, you could just draw power from your PlayStation. But the six-foot cable gives you the option of plugging into your TV or an AC adapter.
Like the Pound converter, the LevelHike HDMI Cable is constructed from anodized aluminum. This makes it very sturdy, so it won’t break easily from an accidental drop. The HDMI port is located on the opposite side from the PlayStation cable, which makes cable management a snap. There’s a small LED indicator on the top to let you know when the converter is powered. And the Micro USB port is located conveniently in the side. On the bottom of the unit, there are four rubber skids to ensure the converter stays in place. On top, you’ll see a small selector switch, which can change between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. Finally, you get a one-year warranty, which covers you for any defects in materials or workmanship.
Conversion and Compatibility
The LevelHike HDMI Cable automatically upscales your PlayStation’s video to 720p. This has a couple of advantages. First, it can help smooth out the edges on games with jagged graphics. Second, it makes the converter compatible with any modern HDTV. On the downside, if you prefer an older, more retro look, you may not like this feature. It all depends on what you want. Regardless, the colors will be true to the original without the need to mess around with your PlayStation’s settings. So you won’t have to worry about your classic games looking “off”.
The ability to change the aspect ratio is also a great feature. The reason for this is that different models of TV handle aspect ratio in different ways. Some TVs will automatically stretch 4:3 inputs to fit the screen, regardless of settings. Others will cut the edges off of 16:9 inputs when the TV is set to 4:3. By giving you both options, the LevelHike ensures that their converter is compatible with any TV. Moreover, the converter has another trick up its sleeve: it supports PAL playback. So if you want to play some European games in the US, you won’t have any compatibility issues. The LevelHike converter will automatically convert it to NTSC.
EEEKit PS2 to HDMI Converter
The EEEKit PS2 to HDMI Converter works a bit differently than the last two options we looked at. Instead of connecting to your PlayStation with a cable, it plugs directly into the back. This means you won’t have to dedicate shelf space to an adapter. On the other hand, it’s going to protrude out the back of your PlayStation. So you’re going to need plenty of clearance around the back of your PlayStation to make it work. Then again, if your console is on a modern, backless shelf, clearance is not going to be a concern.
To accommodate this design, the EEEKit converter is a bit lighter than the last one. It’s constructed from ABS plastic, rather than aluminum, but it still has a matte finish. Keeping your console shelf dust-free is not going to be a problem. The Micro USB power port is oriented towards the right, which makes it easy to plug in. To accommodate this, there’s a one-foot Micro USB cable included in the kit. On the back of the converter, you’ll find the HDMI port. There’s also a six-foot HDMI cable included in the box, so you can connect to your TV in any configuration.
One major advantage of the EEEKit converter’s design is that the lack of an input cable means lower latency. This means you’ll have finer control over your game. In addition, there’s a 3.5mm aux jack next to the HDMI port. So if you’re gaming while your family is sleeping, you can connect a pair of headphones directly to your PlayStation.
Conversion and Compatibility
Like the LevelHike converter, the EEEKit converter upscales the PlayStation’s native resolution up to 720p. As a result, you don’t have to worry about compatibility with any modern HD television. The upscaling doesn’t produce many artifacts, so your video quality will be excellent. RPG players will very much appreciate the clarity of text, which is very easy to read. Better yet, you don’t have to worry about color fidelity. The EEEKit converter remains completely true to your PlayStation’s original colors, regardless of settings.
The one drawback of the EEEKit converter is that it only outputs in 16:9, with the image stretched. In theory, your TV should be able to fix this by switching to a 4:3 aspect ratio. Unfortunately, not all TVs handle this switch in the same way. If your TV compresses the image, it’s going to look perfect. On the other hand, if your TV cuts off the edges, you won’t be able to see the entire image. The best way to test this is to change the settings while watching any BluRay or DVD. If the image gets squished, your TV will work with the EEEKit converter. If the edges are cut off, it won’t.
Which one of these PlayStation 1 & 2 to HDMI converters is the best will depend primarily on your TV. First off, the POUND HDMI HD Link Cable for PlayStation is the best of the bunch. It doesn’t upscale the video, so you won’t have to worry about any artifacts. That said, you’ll need to adjust your PlayStation’s color settings. And if your TV won’t accept a 480p input, you’re out of luck.
The LevelHike HDMI Cable for PS1 & PS2 provides the widest compatibility. It will work with any TV, since it upscales to 720p and lets you change the aspect ratio. On the other hand, it’s a bit large and bulky. But you can play PAL games, so you do get some added value.
The EEEKit PS2 to HDMI Converter provides better upscaling performance than the LevelHike converter. It also provides the lowest latency of any of our choices. Unfortunately, it outputs the game in a stretched 16:9 format. Depending on your TV, this may or may not be fixable.