First post, by MMaximus
I have an ATI Small Wonder (v.3 I believe, without the RCA connector) and an EGA Wonder 800+. As far as I understand, one of the selling points of these cards at the time was that they were able to display graphics modes other than MDA/Hercules on monochrome monitors. So if you didn't have the budget to buy a new color monitor but had enough spare cash for one of these cards, you could run CGA/EGA software and games on your old MDA monitor without spending too much. I don't know if this is an upgrade path that many buyers chose but that was certainly a possibility.
I never had a monochrome setup (started my journey on a XT clone with CGA) but I've always enjoyed the look of games and software on these old mono monitors. I thought I would do a very unscientific comparison on how these 2 cards display CGA and EGA graphics on an amber MDA monitor (Philips Computer Monitor 80). It's quick and dirty as I've used my hand-held smartphone in a dark room for the shots, but I just wanted to have an idea and thought I'd share the screenshots here. I've also included screenshots made with an Hercules compatible card as a reference point.
Above is Test Drive 1 in Hercules mode with a standard MDA/Hercules compatible card. It has that classic Hercules look where the image is horizontally compressed with visible scanlines.
Above is Test Drive 1 in CGA mode displayed in monochrome with the ATI Small Wonder. I think it looks quite good, more vivid than Hercules and you get back the proper aspect ratio in the process.
Above is Test Drive 1 in EGA mode displayed in monochrome with the ATI EGA Wonder 800+. The output signal is noticeably dimmer than the one coming from the Hercules card or the Small Wonder, so I had to max out the brightness and contrast of the monitor, which results in blooming. The card is supposed to display all 16 shades of "grey" but the details in the shadows are completely lost and it doesn't look as good as the Small Wonder.
I'd love to know if the other EGA Wonder cards (namely the EGA Wonder v.1 and EGA Wonder 800, not the "800+" version) exhibit the same problem with dark images. For those of you who own one of the VGA Wonder cards, I'd be curious to know if and how they display VGA graphics on a mono monitor. Generally speaking there doesn't seem to be much info about these cards out there but to me that's a really cool feature that they offer and it's worth exploring a bit more 😀
I'll post a few other screenshots in the posts below.