Jam device offers gamers high-resolution fun

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Gran Turismo is now available for the PC! Well, not exactly. Sure it would be nice to see Sony’s racing masterpiece released for the PC, but I’m afraid that won’t be happening for a while. Fortunately, I have found an alternative. If it’s not available for the PC, then how about patching your Sony PlayStation to a PC monitor? It can happen now, thanks to Aims’ new Jam! device, recently debuted at E3.

The Jam device connects your PlayStation or Nintendo 64 from the A/V port (a special cable is provided for both systems), and is outputted into the VGA port leading to your computer monitor. Don’t worry about having to switch your computer cables around, because there is also a redrive port to send the signal to your PC as well.

A typical RF-based television signal is not really good for gaming, as the video is interlaced, which means that the signal only broadcasts every other scan line. With the S-Video output, every single bit of detail can be displayed on the screen.

Testing out Gran Turismo, I think I mentioned that its one of my favorites before, on the Jam device was like trying a new game on a PC. The actual game used the low-res engine (320X200), so the image looks a little blocky, like playing a VGA game. But when the game menus appear on the screen, they are in high res (640X480). A television monitor can’t handle high-res graphics real well, and there is always a high amount of flicker. But since a computer monitor can handle these resolutions, there is little or no flicker apparent with Jam.

Seeing as Jam is still in the prototype phase, I noticed that every now and then the interface shorts out and it will suddenly switch back to the PC graphics. However, a quick power down and up will restore the Jam back to normal.

Also, not all devices are compatible with the Jam. Case in point, Namco’s GunCon (which is packed in with Time Crisis and Point Blank) requires an RCA input to operate. Seeing as how Jam uses a S-Video cable to operate, the GunCun will not work, and will need to be hooked back up to the RF television. Hopefully later versions of Jam will remedy this problem.

But little faults aside, the Jam device is an impressive piece of equipment. I’ve always wanted to use one monitor for all my gaming needs, and now that chance is here. It will be available for retail soon at a list price of $80, and can be ordered at their web site, www.aimslab.com.

Jam offers graphics so far unseen on console machines, and at a price that won’t Jam up gamer’s wallets.

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