Hands-On Review: AJA ROI DVI/HDMI to SDI Mini-Converter


AJA Video Systems, a leading designer and manufacturer of professional video peripherals, based in Grass Valley, California, first made a name for itself in the early 1990s with its line of Mini-Converters. Today, AJA’s Mini-Converters are perhaps the industry’s most comprehensive range of compact, stand-alone A/V conversion and infrastructure devices. In this article, we’ll discuss the new ROI DVI/HDMI to SDI Mini-Converter, an innovative device that addresses the growing need to incorporate computer signals in video productions and presentations.

Like the rest of the Mini-Converter range, AJA’s ROI DVI/HDMI to SDI converter is compact and well suited to users who often need to travel. The ROI Mini-Converter also has a number of unique features that make it more than merely a portable signal converter. The most notable of these features is likely the namesake “Region of Interest” function.

With AJA’s free MiniConfig application, users can select a region of interest from the incoming DVI or HDMI signal and control how the ROI Mini-Converter will scale that region to the output resolution. The Mini-Converter also takes advantage of AJA’s high-quality scaling algorithms to ensure the best image quality possible. Essentially, the Region of Interest function allows users to crop the image on their computer’s display to adjust aspect ratios and eliminate unwanted interface elements like menu bars and application windows.

Out of the box, operating in the default mode, the ROI Mini-Converter will automatically detect the input DVI signal and convert it to baseband video for output over SDI. The picture’s aspect ratio will be maintained, and any unused area of the display will be filled with matte color. The ROI Mini-Converter has no physical control interface, but it can be set up in any number of ways by simply plugging it into a computer via the included USB cable and using the before-mentioned MiniConfig application.

No USB Connection Necessary

The MiniConfig application can be run on both PC and Mac systems. Users can select any Mini-Converter that is currently connected to the computer via USB, and the software will display a graphical rendering of the converter. It will also display all of the connections with a bit of text to indicate the signal type and what the converter is currently doing. A series of tabs provides access to control screens for different types of tasks to be performed, including input Region of Interest, Output, Genlock, Audio, firmware update, and general info. Note that the ROI Mini-Converter does not require a USB connection for operation. In stand-alone mode, the converter will simply follow either the auto-sensing defaults or maintain the settings that were last assigned via MiniConfig.

MiniConfig gives users full control of region of interest selection, aspect ratio, frame-rate conversion, and a range of output formats. It will also show you what your source and output will look like. Other functions include various modes of selecting the matte color, edge filtering enable/disable, and flicker filtering. Disabling edge filtering can be useful if you are using four ROIs to drive a 4K monitor wall, and flicker filtering will help eliminate strobing that could occur with interlaced outputs, or when a detailed image is scaled-down into a smaller area.

The ROI converter features a DVI input and an SDI output, as the name would suggest. It also features a looping DVI output, something which might make a world of difference, depending on the system configuration that you require. The looping DVI output means that users can connect the ROI Mini-Converter straight to their computer tower’s DVI output and still run a DVI signal to a monitor. You can also run the DVI signal from your laptop to a second display.

The DVI connectors will also accept 8-channel embedded audio from an HDMI signal, and a separate 3.5mm analog audio input jack accepts 2-channel audio. This allows either computer audio or an independent audio source, or a combination of both, to be embedded easily within the converted SDI signal for synchronized routing. Other connections include a USB port for the previously mentioned MiniConfig connection, a Genlock input, and a locking 5VDC power input for the included power supply, or an optional P-Tap power cable for on-camera power options. The power supply also includes a set of international plug connections for use around the world. Overall, the design and layout of all the connections on the ROI converter have been well thought out and logically placed—an important, if seemingly pedestrian, advantage given the frustration that can occur with lesser-designed products.

Like the rest of AJA’s products, the ROI DVI/HDMI to SDI Mini-Converter is protected by the company’s quality guarantee, which includes a 5-year warranty and an advanced replacement policy. If a replacement is necessary, AJA will ship a new unit immediately, without requiring you to ship the original unit back first.

AJA also offers the Mini-Matrix app for iOS. The app provides comprehensive information on the full line of Mini-Converters to help you determine the right converter for any situation. Of course, for more information on the ROI DVI/HDMI to SDI converter or any of AJA’s products you can visit the B&H SuperStore in New York City, call us at 1-800-606-6969, or contact our experts online via Live Chat.

Input 1x DVI-D (convertible to HDMI via optional DVI-to-HDMI adapter)
1x Reference (color black, tri-level sync)
1x analog 3.5 mm TRS
Format DVI:
VGA (640 x 480) minimum
WUXGA (1920 x 1200) 60 Hz max
Frame rates are limited by the 165 MHz max rate of the DVI Rx

480p/580p (DSLR cameras)
720p 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/50/59.94/60
1080i 50/59.94
1080p 23.98/24/25/29.97/30

Input Data Range Control 1 - 255 (default - 8 bit nomenclature)
16 - 235
Output 1x HD/SD-SDI, SMPTE-259/292/296
1x DVI-D loop through (convertible to HDMI via a DVI-to-HDMI adapter)
1x USB (for connection to Mac or PC)
Audio I/O 3.5mm TRS input, 2-channel
HDMI embedded audio input (via DVI-to-HDMI adapter), 8-channel, 24-bit)
SDI embedded audio output, 2-channel or 8-channel, 24-bit
HDCP The Converter does not encode the HDMI output with HDCP encryption.
Power 5-18 VDC regulated, 3 W, required power supply included
Dimensions 5.8 x 4 x 1" (15 x 10 x 2.5 cm)
Weight 1.65 lb