Though I grew up during the age of the Atari 2600, the NES, the Sega Master System, and their exponentially bit-increasing follow ups, I migrated away from gaming consoles to the PC exclusively around the turn of the millennium, and it took me a long time to find a place on my entertainment center for one again. Why? The PC had one major advantage—ability to upgrade parts of the hardware as needed to deliver the best gaming experience possible as system requirements grew for the latest games. For consoles, the hardware limitations when you unboxed the shiny, new, latest generation console remained the same hardware limitations when you retired the device for the next iteration.
Enter the mClassic.
mClassic’s powerful video processor analyzes each pixel in its immediate and global contexts to determine the most suitable processing per pixel with Marseille’s propriety technology called Contextual Processing. mClassic’s patented technology redraws every single pixel on the fly at 120 FPS with near-zero latency and eliminates jagged edges that are smoothed over by our advanced anti-aliasing algorithm. While graphics video processors typically focus on either the “sharpness” or “naturalness” of an image, mClassic ensures the image is in perfect balance.
, the mClassic is a simple HDMI dongle that plugs into the back of your gaming console that beefs up the system’s processing power, delivering improved anti-aliasing, 4k upscaling, depth of field, and sharpness with statistically insignificant (but not zero) lag.
For the purpose of this review, I was provided an advance sample of the mClassic to put through its paces.
In the box was the mClassic dongle, a USB power cable, and an HDMI extension cable (approximately six inches in length). Connecting the mClassic is as simple as plugging the dongle into the HDMI port on the back of the console, then plugging the HDMI cable running to your TV/monitor into the HDMI port on the “m” end of the dongle. The mClassic requires a separate power supply, so you will need to either plug the power cable into an open USB port on your console or TV/monitor. If you do not have an open USB port available, then you’ll need to purchase a USB power adapter to plug the USB cable into.
The TV where I do the bulk of my console gaming has a limited number of HDMI ports, so the consoles connected to that TV run through an HDMI hub. Rather than plugging the mClassic into a single console, then swapping it out each time I wanted to change consoles, I attempted to plug the mClassic into the HDMI port on the back of the TV and the HDMI cable coming from the hub into the mClassic. This configuration did not allow any signal to pass from the consoles connected to the hub to the TV. Nether did placing the mClassic anywhere else in-line. The only way the mClassic will allow a signal to reach the monitor is if the mClassic is plugged into the back of the console. That means gamers with more than one console will either need to move the mClassic from console to console or purchase multiple mClassic devices and leave them in place.
For my first test, I plugged the mClassic into the back of my PS4 and fired up Spider-Man. Based on the images on the Marseille website, I didn’t expect much of a difference in a current generation console because systems like the PS4 and Xbox One are already pushing video to 4k TVs and monitors. Sure, I’m willing to buy that you can get better graphics out of a Nintendo Switch (as seen in the image above) but Spider-Man? Come on.
I was wrong.
The first thing I noticed was the increased clarity and depth of field. It felt like I had gone from normal vision to being bitten by a radioactive spider and having Spider-Sense. Suddenly, everything was just more—for lack of a better term—crisp. That’s fine for standing around on a rooftop and looking off over New York City, but that’s not where the game is played. Webslinging around the city, the graphic improvements really shined, and never once did I get any noticeable lag.
My experience with other titles on the PS4 and on the Xbox One were similar. No, I never won the chicken dinner on Fortnite… not because of any lag, but because I’m really not any good at shooters. I was, however, able to see my surroundings more clearly, which can’t be anything but an advantage for those who are looking for a little extra something to take their gameplay to the next level.
If only Marseille made a device that would find and fire on enemies for me.
The mClassic has a slider on the side that allows the device to be turned off altogether, scaling turned on, or to be put in Retro mode. Retro mode is designed specifically for consoles that pump out content at a 4:3 aspect ratio, including both older consoles (assuming you have an HDMI adapter, not included) and the recent batch of retro gaming consoles like the NES Mini, Playstation Classic, and more. While the graphics on those older games will never be mistaken for current generation content, the mClassic does make them more palatable when introducing older games to your kids who have never lived in an 8-bit, 16-bit, or even 64-bit world. Additional side-by-side comparison photos and videos across a variety of different devices follow at the end of this post.
While gaming is certainly at the heart of the mClassic, the device can also be used to upgrade video content as well. Plugging the device into the back of a Blu-ray player will deliver a higher quality and clarity of content.
Once in full production, the mClassic is expected to retail for $99. Backers who support mClassic during the crowdfunding campaign will be among the first to own the device at a cost of $79, with the first 250 backers able to pick up an mClassic for only $59. For about the cost of a new game and season pass, you can own an mClassic and upgrade all of your titles and videos, making this a no-brainer for gamers and home video cinephiles.
Disclaimer: An mClassic was provided for the purposes of this hands-on review. All opinions are my own.
Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast)
Gamecube How To Video
Super Smash Bros. (Gamecube)
Twisted Metal 2 (Playstation)
Soulcaliber IV (PS2)
Uncharted 2 (PS3)
Call of Duty (Xbox 360)
Halo 3 (Xbox 360)
Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
Switch How To Video
Super Smash Bros. (Switch)
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch)
Breath of the Wild (Switch)
Xbox One How To
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (Xbox One X)
PS4 How To
God of War (PS4 Pro)