PS1digital review: the ultimate HDMI option for PlayStation 1

One of the biggest challenges facing the retro gaming enthusiast is the basic concept that console systems and games designed for CRTs are an uneasy fit for modern flatpanel technology, not least because today’s screens don’t even accept the video outputs of classic games machines. Various solutions are available to bridge the gap, but none quite offer the quality of directly modding original hardware to offer a fully digital HDMI solution. That’s what the PS1digital from Black Dog Technology does: a separate board is mounted inside an original PlayStation, converting its internal signals to a pristine digital output – and it’s terrific.

If the concept sounds familiar, we’ve covered the work of Black Dog before, specifically with the DCHDMI – now renamed DCdigital – which does the same thing for Sega’s Dreamcast. In bypassing the original analogue video and audio outputs of the host console, these mods deliver the absolute best possible image quality. From console to flatpanel, the entire pipeline is completely digital from start to finish. In the case of the PS1digital, the signal is so pure and unfiltered that our frame-rate analysis tools work as expected – a situation that’s only possible with the cleanest of signals.

The PlayStation is an interesting console. Alongside Sega Saturn, it was the last home console where the vast majority of the library actually ran at just 240p, with a smaller subset of titles operating at a higher resolution via interlaced 480i. Even before the arrival of the PS1digital, there are still some good options available for using original hardware on a modern screen. The Framemeister, OSCC and Retrotink all do a good job, and the simplest solution – the Rad2x cable (based on Retrotink) – delivers a very impressive 480p output. The Hyperkin PlayStation HDTV cable is best avoided. Another decent plug and play solution is simply to run your PS1 library on PlayStation 3. All consoles run all games via software emulation.

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