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Review: New CARBY Revision from Insurrection Industries

Just when you thought that what we had for HDMI adapters in the Gamecube scene was good enough, companies continue to step up to the plate. One such company is Insurrection Industries and they’re up to bat today in our review of the newest revision of their CARBY product. So let’s skip over all of the pleasantries here and get right down to business as there are tons to talk about!

Description:

‘CARBY is back and is better than ever! CARBY is a digital audio/video adapter for your Nintendo GameCube. It will take the digital signal from your GameCube digital port (model DOL-001) and convert it to a pure digital and audio stream compatible with your modern HD television.

Device Features:

  • ‘Precision molded, metal shielded digital connector crafted to exact OEM specifications, provides an ultra-secure interface with your GameCube
  • Analog output remains open and active for additional sound and video options
  • Completely digital audio and video interface for amazingly clear and precise 480p video and stereo sound
  • Pre-programmed remote control and HDMI cable are included
  • JTAG headers are populated for experienced individuals with a desire to modify or change the firmware
  • This device is powered by GC Video-DVI with firmware version 2.4c which was designed by Ingo Korb and is used with permission under an open source copyright
  • 1 year limited warranty*
  • FREE SHIPPING in the continental US!!!!’

New Features:

  • ‘Special precision molded Infrared polycarbonate shell which appears solid black but is transparent to IR and some red light
  • Firmware version 2.4c adds a chroma bug fix (introduced in 2.4b) and also increases audio volume by about 6 dB while retaining volume control
  • PCB has been refined to be even more efficient and reliable’

Unboxing Video:

Pros:

There are many, many positives to the CARBY that I am excited to share with you. I was like a little kid experiencing sugar for the first time. This device is a lot more my speed and makes a lot more sense for the average retro gamer. Allow me to explain the multitude of great things that come along with the CARBY.

The very first thing you’ll notice when you go to use it is that it snaps in so much cleaner than GCHD. I’m talking about a smooth glide into the port and then a satisfying snap into place. I believe it’s the fact that Insurrection Industries uses a plug that is metal as opposed to hardened plastic. I’m further assuming it’s because the GCHD has to plug into two ports at once. The CARBY only needs to go directly into one port. And since there is a layer of metal involved, it also means a much stronger plug. Overall meaning that it shouldn’t run the risk of snapping under extreme pressure.

And while we’re talking about ports involving the CARBY, let us not forget about the HDMI port on the back of the device. I found that whether you use the HDMI cord in the box that was intended to be used with the CARBY or one of your pre-existing HDMI cords, the results are the same. Each of them went into the port properly (no snags) and also gave that all too satisfying pop. Furthermore, the hold of the HDMI port on the HDMI cord is pretty snug and holds the cord well. This, of course, is assuming normal circumstances and nothing crazy happening.

I would say, it’s easier to pop the HDMI cord into the CARBY first and then plug the CARBY into the Gamecube. In fact, I took the CARBY and HDMI on a trip with my Gamecube to a friend’s house. I just left the CARBY at the end of the HDMI cord as it just makes sense to make it an extension of the cord. And to wrap up an HDMI cord on it to store it is a lot easier than having a Gamecube with a tail (CARBY hanging out the back). The last point about the HDMI port is the positioning of it. I love the fact that the HDMI comes straight out of the back. A drastically better idea for cord cleanliness than an HDMI cord that comes out of the side. This also means that dust covers work better.

But I digress, let’s move on to talking about the body of the device. So as mentioned before, the structural integrity of the plug on the CARBY is second to none with its metal surface. The HDMI port is a premium port on the back of the CARBY. The outside shell of the adapter is also incredibly solid. I did some minor testing to see how it would hold up. I set a text book on it and pressed down on the text book with all of my force and I couldn’t hurt the little thing! I didn’t want to try any more weight, but I was half tempted to stand on the book. But the point is, the device itself didn’t buckle under the weight. I know it will never experience anything like that in its life at anyone’s home, I just wanted to test it anyway. Best of all, with it’s small shape, you’ll find that it allows you more compatibility with different Gamecube dustcovers.
The last noticeable pros about the physical device itself are the nice red LED and the IR sensor hole. To start, the red LED is a great indicator that everything is working properly. It shines through about where the Insurrection Industries logo is on your CARBY. The LED really helps you out with troubleshooting. If, for example, you’re not seeing a picture on your screen and the LED is glowing on the CARBY, then you know the Gamecube isn’t the problem. It may be your TV settings, that your TV is unplugged, or maybe you’re just on the wrong input. The IR sensor hole is a small hole on the side of the device. If you aim your Insurrection Industries universal remote at it, you can navigate through the built in GCVideo menu. Remember that your TV and Gamecube must be powered on to do this.
I also loved that when you get the box from Insurrection Industries, it comes with everything that you’ll need inside. The CARBY itself, of course, will be inside. But also, they feature a remote control for changing settings and an HDMI cord. Best of all, I love that they have a full-color instructional sheet inside. Do you know how often I review products where I have to google something because they couldn’t even be bothered to just type a website or put a QR code on it to take me where I need to go?! Too often, and it’s great because they even give instructions on the remote usage!
Aspect ratio for games is always a nice widescreen. I know that it’s all a matter of your TV and the output settings. But by default, the screen was the best aspect ratio. Which is only better for those of you who like plug and play devices. There is no need to have to fiddle with your screen at home. That is unless you prefer a 4:3 aspect ratio. But that is generally reserved for games of the 8-32 bit era of gaming.
The video quality is miraculous especially if you’re coming from using your standard RCA cables. And even more so if you’ve been using those RCA cables on an HDTV. That quality is so gummy and gross. The CARBY shows you what your Gamecube is really capable of and really what you’ve been missing. The colors are so much brighter, the edges don’t really resemble fuzziness, and smaller words are much more readable! Even if you’re playing a game that doesn’t support Progressive Scan mode, you’ll see an improvement. It won’t be as miraculous of an improvement as games that have Progressive Scan and enabling it. But your eyes will thank you. I’ve made a video down below of some examples of the different scenarios and how they look.
With regards to the GCVideo settings, they just add so much more on top of everything. It makes your purchase even more worth while. The with abilities like adding or adjusting scanlines for your gameplay even on an HDTV is nice. You can also choose specific resolutions to set scanlines on. So lower resolution games can have scan lines and you can leave the 576p games looking clean (for example). There are other adjustments that can be made, it’s so fun to sit and customize for the perfect viewing experience. Different games look different with different settings. For me, the default settings look the best across all games. But if you only ever really play just one or two games, it may be worth your time to really hone in more refined settings.
One of the other great points about the CARBY is the fact that it only takes up the Digital AV port on the DOL-001 model. So that means that you also now have a port left open, the standard AV port. What’s great about that is that you can still use another cable out of that and incorporate another screen into your play. Then it’s up to you if you want to use a CRT or HDTV in conjunction with the RCA cable that your Gamecube came with. I really think that people with a couple of TV’s that are medium or smaller in size will appreciate this for multiplayer games. It keeps everyone from huddling around the same screen.
So let’s state the obvious here for the last pro. The price. The device being at under $80 means that you may actually be able to afford it without having to save up for it. No, that isn’t a jab at the GCHD product line. They cater to a very specific market now. The very same market who pays for Gamecube LAN adapters (the reference I’m making there is that those things are pricey). So Smash and Double Dash players aside, the price of the CARBY is great. Especially because you get all of the aforementioned benefits at such an affordable price point.

Video Quality:

Cons:

There really aren’t any cons to this product. So to be clear, most of these nitpicks are things that might just be small annoyances. I had to really think like a negative Twitter commenter to try to find things that I didn’t like or that was wrong. If you don’t find any of the following to be an issue, then you’re on the same page as me. None of these are deal breakers in my book!
So to start with, imagine that you’re playing a game on your Gamecube game. You’re having a great time and your dog goes running across the living room. Maybe the controller cord gets caught on its leg and your Gamecube comes away from the TV. It’s at that time, you’d learn that the CARBY will get pulled out of the system rather than just the HDMI cord coming out. This is probably only the fault of the Digital AV port itself and not the CARBY. But as I said before, under normal circumstances this stays in impeccably well.
The next “complaint” is something that is told up front by makers of these HDMI adapters. However, some people aren’t good readers, so it bears repeating. And that is that this device only works on the DOL-001 model of Gamecube. I’m sure someone out there has an incompatible Gamecube that need to be aware it is not for all Gamecubes. I would personally wonder if it is possible to make an AV to HDMI adapter. Maybe someone could make one that uses exclusively the standard AV port and it just is a pass-through device to HDMI. This might also the ability us owners of a DOL-001 the ability to have two HDMI out, albeit on in standard definition.
And finally, the only other hiccup I could find was when it came down to making the video for this review. When recording with my El Gato I found that the gameplay footage appeared to be in 4:3 aspect ratio. This is even despite being 16:9 on my HDTV at precisely the same time. I’m not certain if this has to do with the CARBY, the El Gato, the HDTV, or my computer. But if you expect to be streaming in 16:9, be aware that this might also happen to you.

Final Thoughts:

This product is more my speed. It’s smaller than the GCHD MK-II that is offered from EON. It has an HDMI cord and remote that comes with it for simplicity’s sake. And it is damn near half the cost of the competition! It doesn’t do anything fancy, but I don’t need those features as I’m just an individual. While I respect EON and what they did with the GCHD MK-II, I certainly just don’t need all of the fancy stuff that it came with.

So if you’re like me, you just need a solution to get your HDTV showing some delicious Gamecube gameplay, this is a lot more logical. I recommend the other one still if you have the budget for it and you need it for tournaments. I really recommend this one if you’re the rest of the retro gamers out there who want to play some games at home! This thing has my seal of approval!

If you’d like one of these, no fear, there’s a link right here for you!

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