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ANI-HPNHN Scaler Review

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    bmoc
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    ANI-HPNHN Scaler Review ($169.95 at B&H)

    I want to be up front with the fact that I do not have a lot of experience with upscalers/line multipliers. The OSSC is my first foray into the realm of retrogaming on a modern display. Since this particular scaler does not have many reviews, it is my hope that this will help get the word out about this option. Perhaps someone with more experience and better screen capture equipment will do a more thorough review.

    I came across the A-NeuVideo’s ANI-HPNHN while browsing scalers on B&H. I was looking at scalers under $300 and this one appeared to be the best fit for the OSSC of the ones carried by B&H. It supports a wide variety of resolutions in both NTSC and PAL so I was hopeful it would be a strong Framemeister alternative when paired with the OSSC.

    At first, I was a bit hesitant to try this scaler because I was unfamiliar with the brand. After a bit of research, I discovered that A-NeuVideo is owned by the same company as Shinybow but their products are manufactured in different plants. Upon learning that, my fears were greatly lessened that I was about to purchase a high priced lemon. I have owned a Shinybow SCART switch for a number of years and it has served me well.

    Please note that all my tests were done with NTSC consoles.

    What OSSC modes are compatible with the ANI-HPNHN?
    240p – 2X, 3X, and 4X*.
    480i – 2X (bob deinterlacing) and Passthrough.
    *SNES, Genesis, and Master System did not work with 4X.

    I tested 240p with SNES, N64, PS1, Master System, Genesis, and Saturn. None of them worked with any of the 5X variations. My TV does not natively accept anything beyond 2X mode. Using the ANI-HPNHN, I am now able to display 3X mode while 4X mode works with some consoles.

    My TV handles 480i via component very well. I think my PS2 looks just as good if not better using my TV’s component inputs rather than deinterlacing through the OSSC. Unfortunately, my TV will not accept 480i via an HDMI port. This was my main driving factor in searching for an upscaler to use with the OSSC – to enhance what I see as the OSSC’s major weakness: 480i deinterlacing.

    My testing was done with Chrono Cross on a PS1 and numerous PS2 games. The ANI-HPNHN does 480i deinterlacing very well if you set the OSSC’s 480i mode to passthrough. It creates a very crisp/clear image that is free of shimmering with the right settings. As expected, scanlines do not work with passthrough mode. Without scanlines, 480i still looks great upscaled to 480p (4:3) or 720p (widescreen). 480i scaled to 1080p is doable but it is stretched out and squashed flat unless you tinker with the ANI-HPNHN’s “Size” output setting. Essentially, if you get 480i passthrough looking good upscaled to 1080p, 240p sources are going to suffer by being the wrong aspect ratio. If you use the passthrough option, stick to 480p or 720p output.

    If you set 480i to deinterlace with the OSSC, the ANI-HPNHN upscales that quite nicely all the way up to 1080p. However, there is still a bit of shimmering due to the bob deinterlacing method that the OSSC uses. Scanlines look ok but they do get thinner the higher you upscale. The other advantage in letting the OSSC handle deinterlacing is that it is easier to maintain a consistent aspect ratio between 240p and 480i sources. Overall, I think upscaling OSSC deinterlaced 480i to 1080p is only a marginal improvement at best.

    How much display lag does the ANI-HPNHN add?
    It does not appear to be much. Using the 240p test suite’s manual lag test, I was getting somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-3 frames of total lag (this includes my TV’s inherent lag). Doing the same test with the OSSC only, I was getting about half a frame less lag on average. Please keep in mind that these numbers are best estimates and are no replacement for doing a side-by-side lag test with a CRT.

    Anecdotally, I did have some trouble making some precise jumps in Super Mario World. It turns out that when you have 25ish years of muscle memory playing a game, it is hard to adjust to new timings – go figure. The delay was not noticeable to me in other games that I tried. When I tried Layer Section and X-Men vs Street Fighter, the delay was not enough to throw me off.

    Switching between resolutions is handled very well by the ANI-HPNHN. There is very little delay and it eliminates the brief video distortion I was getting when using the OSSC only. Using Chrono Cross as an example, going from 240p gameplay to the 480i menu takes about 4 seconds. Going from menu to gameplay takes about 3 seconds on my display.

    Audio integration
    If you are not swapping between resolutions often, the audio integration works well. However, during a resolution swap, the audio cuts out and takes slightly more time to resync than the video does. I found this annoying enough to reroute my audio directly to my external speakers again.

    Conclusion
    In the end, I found my optimal settings to be:
    PS1 240p/480i games
    -OSSC: 480i passthrough, 240p 4X, Scanlines On
    -ANI-HPNHN: Size = Full, Output = 480p
    -Notes: Yes that downscales the 960p (240p x 4) image to 480p but it looks significantly better than using 240p 2X or 3X mode.

    240p games with little or no 480i
    -OSSC: 240p 3X, 480i 2X, Scanlines On
    -ANI-HPNHN: Size = Full, Output = 1080p

    480i only games
    -For consoles that support component, I just plugged the component cables in directly to the TV.
    -For the odd 480i game that isn’t on PS2, original Xbox, Gamecube, or Wii, I decided to go with the OSSC’s bob deinterlacing so that I could use scanlines. (Tested with N64 Rogue Squadron and Sonic 2’s two player mode)
    -ANI-HPNHN: Size = Full, Output = 1080p

    If you do not like tinkering with AV equipment, then an OSSC + ANI-HPNHN is definitely not for you. It takes a while to fine tune them along with your TV to suite your tastes.

    OSSC users might want an ANI-HPNHN if you desire any of the following:
    -A way to use 3X and 4X mode on an otherwise incompatible display
    -Non-cropped 1080p output
    -Better 480i handling (effectively limits you to 480p or 720p output with no scanlines)
    -HDMI audio integration (if you don’t play many resolution swapping games)
    -Converting PAL to NTSC or vice versa (In theory this should work but I could not test it)

    I cannot really say if this combo is better or worse than the Framemeister as I have never used one. Given Micomsoft’s current supply issues, I do not see myself getting one anytime soon. However, the cost of an OSSC and an ANI-HPNHN is about the same as buying a Framemeister at retail price. If you already have an OSSC, the ANI-HPNHN has the benefit of being readily available.

    ANI-HPNHN User Manual and Specifications (PDF)

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