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I can comment on my experience with both the Sima and the Video Filter. In short, the Sima, (and I assume the various clones that have appeared) really did a number on the brightness. The image seemed washed out and very overly bright. The Video Filter had none of those issues. I had transferred some VHS tapes to DVD for my wife, and to save time I did two at a time using different players and recorders, one set passing through the Sima, the other through the Video Filter. The wife immediately flagged the ones that had been through the Sima as completely inferior and made me redo them through the Video Filter. The Sima also seemed to get rather hot id left on for an extended time. The Video Filter did not have this problem.
 

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I have 4 Sima's(all CT-2 models) and 3 of the 4 really wash out the picture, to the point I really avoid using them and almost exclusively use the 1 I've marked "good BL". None of the Sima's really effect the resolution(I use S-video in/out). I also have a Grex, which doesn't really effect black level but does slightly reduce resolution. If I'm in a pinch and need to use 2 converters at the same time I use my one good Sima and the Grex.
I really wish there was a way to fix the black level on my other 3 Sima's but I've taken them apart and see no adjustments :( It's weird 3 of the 4 are bad, almost like the one that's good is the anomaly :rolleyes:
 

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My Sima CT-2 video filter sits safely in a drawer unable to screw up any more of my recordings:p:).
It's a Lousy filter,but i was glad to have around til i found better filters and converters.
 

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I agree most of the "filters" (and TBCs-ugh) out there impact the video to some negative degree, with an irritating range of unit-to-unit variability.

But the fact remains, "THE Video Filter" is a one-off product, a bit out of the price range and comfort zone of many fly-by posters who drop into AVS with the sole question "what can I use when my DVD recorder refuses to cooperate?" The subtext of their question is "what commercial product can I buy from Amazon with some guarantee of easy returns that doesn't cost as much as my recorder did?"

Superb as "THE Video Filter" may be, it is double the cost most newbies are prepared to pay, they aren't all that keen on dealing directly with an individual craftsman/seller whose web presence fluctuates unpredictably, and they really could not care less about (or even visually register) the black-level and smearing flaws we geeks notice from devices like the Grex. So, I wouldn't be too quick to rule out the Grex or various Sima knockoffs that sell in the $80 range: they can serve adequately for casual users who aren't looking for the nth degree of quality.

If you ARE looking for such ultra quality, you probably shouldn't still be using dvd recorders anyway: I've never understood some of the guys here who spend $500 assembling a collection of high-grade dongles just to patch a mediocre cable box into a barely-adequate dvd recorder. It is 2017: for that money and aggravation, I'd rather patch an HDMI splitter into an HDMI recorder (or PC) and maintain a completely digital, completely HDTV signal chain. Off-air-antenna people have the even simpler option of dirt-cheap direct-HDTV tuner-recorders like the Homeworx units.

"THE Video Filter" is unparalleled if you do need to record an analog source infested with CGMS or MV-D to the analog inputs of a digital recorder. It is free from all the usual video artifacts one sees in other similar devices, and miles better than any TBC. Anybody doing serious archiving of this nature will be thrilled with it. But it does suffer the drawback of extremely limited distribution, and it ain't exactly cheap.

There are better mainstream solutions for high-quality timeshifting (where you don't plan to keep a recording after watching it once). Archiving full HDTV permanently is better achieved today via all-digital capture workflows: degrading an HDTV signal down to what a dvd recorder can handle seems an ass-backwards setup unless you have a specific need for an immediate, standard-def dvd version.
 

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My Video Filter continues to work perfectly. However, recently after recording some TCM films, I now notice an annoying bright white, horizontal flashing line, just above the image. I'm recording the HD films in SD so there is inevitably black bars on all 4 sides. Previously these white lines were very faint and thus not really discernible. Now they are most distracting so I have resorted to putting black masking at the top of my TV screen. I don't think this problem is related to the video filter as there was no problem until recently. Could it be some signal forthcoming from my cable supplier or the program supplier?
 

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Recording quality of TCM via SD signals has degraded noticeably for many of us ever since TCM decided to abandon its separate SD feed for full-time HDTV. The problem with their HDTV formatting is most of their classic film catalog is in 4:3 aspect ratio. When sent thru an HD-optimized cable or satellite feed, the SD output gets "windowboxed" as you've experienced (black bars all around, with the video being a half-sized presentation in the middle of the screen).

Not only does this degrade picture quality, it also exposes the top/bottom frame edge "garbage" that is normally hidden. These defects may not be visible in the broadcast, but get distorted and magnified when recorded thru a filter accessory.

All you can do is try a different brand of filter, or switch to an HDMI to composite converter (or component to composite converter). The converter boxes tap the original HD feed from cable box HD outputs and convert it to SD, without windowboxing, so the frame is normal height with top/bottom edges masked by the TV. The video will still be non-standard: "pillarboxed" with black bars on the sides, and anamorphically squeezed. This is easily fixed by pressing your TV's picture size button to unsqueeze it.
 

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Well, the good news is the annoying white horizontal line on TCM's SD broadcast is apparently in their signal. Some, but not all, 4:3 films are showing this continually flashing, white line just above the frame. Bell Fibre in Canada still broadcast the TCM SD signal and it's very evident there, so it has nothing to do with my Video Filter (thank goodness!) Bell claim the signal comes in this way from TCM so they claim no responsibility. I've tried unsuccessfully to contact TCM about this issue. I'm interested to know if anyone else sees this white line during broadcasts, only on SD. The rub is, if you are recording from HD, like I do, you get the SD picture size, complete with this flaw. If no one else is noticing this, then Bell must be the culprit. Anyone?
 
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