Comparing VGA and HDMI on the Spectrum Next

I backed the 2nd Spectrum Next kickstarter but couldn’t wait for it to arrive so I bought one of the compatible ‘N-Go’ machines. This was partly because I had also backed the kickstarter for the Spectrum Next version of Shovel Adventure and needed something to play it on.

I had read that VGA was better than HDMI since the display timings were more accurate, but the VGA output didn’t work on the TV I was using. I hadn’t noticed any problems and all the games I tried looked fine to me. That was until I tried playing Laserbirds (which I think was the first game I bought from Previously I had played the game on my raspberry pi retro setup, using the Fuse emulator. When I loaded it up on the ‘next’, it just didn’t look right:

Laserbirds, using the HDMI connection

We had a spare TV in the back room which I brought downstairs and I tried that with the VGA output. That seemed to work better and everything started looking good again:

Laserbirds, using the VGA output

The horizontal bars and clouds appeared correctly this time. I then tried the ‘classic’ test of colour timing: Aquaplane. This also showed an improvement.

I tried a few other new games, including Ringo and El-Stompo and the VGA output was much better. This won’t matter soon because there is an update being prepared which improves the HDMI output. When that happens, I can put the spare TV away and free up some desk space.

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