After much research, I decided to take the plunge and purchase a PDI Deluxe. I just got the card in this morning and gave it a quick try.
I didn't have a whole lot of time (I had to leave for class), but so far, this thing may have solved my HDTV lag.
I tested out my NTSC Sega Saturn with Street Fighter Zero 3 and Layer Section. I ran S-Video into the PDI Deluxe and ran component out to my 62" Mitsubishi at its native resolution of 1080i. Quality-wise, it far better than I expected any capture card to produce. It was comparable to, if not better than, plugging the Saturn straight into my TV. Off the bat, I was unable to notice any lag whatsoever. I was able to pull off some moves that required precise timing in SFZ3 without problems, and Layer Section seemed to be as responsive as ever. I'm going to further investigate this when I get home tonight, but so far, I think it may have the problem licked.
One of the big(gest) pluses to having this card is that I am able to adjust the image size and position, thus eliminating any sort of overscan when outputting to my TV, YES! Additionally, the wide variety of filters and image adjustments should allow me to greatly increase the picture quality.
One minor issue I noticed was that during certain rapid white-flashes (like when a boss was being shot), there was noticeable "interlace lines". I'm sure this issue can be reduced/remedied by altering some of the filter/interlace settings. Still, it is barely considered a nuisance.
I was running this on my Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 with 2Gb of PC5400 RAM and an ATI X800XT. DScaler only used about 7% of my processor on one core and I experienced 0 dropped frames.
That card sounds pretty good, I looked into it and the price is not that bad either. If it really does have no noticeable lag than I may be sold. I'm a little hesitant to use a PC card for games though, considering I've been trying to use external solutions so far.
Do you know if it accepts resolutions of 480p or higher through the component input? If so then I could probably do away with my transcoders, and just run all my consoles through the card via a ext. component selector.
Oh, and it says it requires a AGP video card, but I assume it'll work with the newer PCI-Express cards as well, right?
It's a shame the PS3, doesn't upscale 480i games, considering how powerful it's supposed to be, I don't think it would be that hard to implement. I don't know about the 360 or Wii, but I'm pretty sure they don't upscale older games to progressive scan either.
For the lag situation, I got a chance to play a bit of Ikaruga on my Dreamcast the other night. As stated before, the response was fantastic. Unfortunately, I don't have any precise method of measuring any possible lag (no PS2 with Guitar Hero or the like), but I'm fairly certain it is non-existent. As soon as I get a chance, I'll do a side by side comparison of Battle Garegga on my Saturn VS MAME and find out for sure.
I'm afraid the card only accepts 480i inputs. This is not a problem for me, as my HDTV native resolution is 1080i anyway. The de-interlace methods are
I was just as puzzled as you were about the AGP requirement. Worry not, I believe what they are trying to indicate is you cannot have a plain old PCI graphics card (their reasoning is that the PCI bus does not have enough bandwidth). My PCI-Express Radeon X800 runs just peachy with the PDI Deluxe.
I agree that it is a shame the new-gen systems are unable to scale up older titles for us with HDTVs, but there are more and more HDTVs that can handle 480p with no lag nowadays. Considering I got my 62" DLP for what should be considered highway robbery, I can't complain.