1st Gen vs 2nd Gen Xbox 360 & DVD Up Scaling (Component vs HDMI)

I have a 1st Generation Xbox 360 which i purchase about a year and a half ago. I connect to my HD-LCD TV via component cables at a resolution of 1080i. I also have a HD-DVD Player which i recently got for free (well $5) at a garage sale on my street.
Everything is working wonderful. Both my Xbox and my HD-DVD plays back regular DVD at a resolution of 480p.

HOWEVER, my roommate just purchased a 2nd generation Xbox 360 (core system), (for less then what i paid for mine btw), which came with an HDMI port. When we played a regular DVD movie via his Xbox 360, the system automatically up-scaled to 1080p (his TV is 1080p). How very angry i was.

I called Xbox Support and after a hour and half conversation, i was basically told that only Xbox 360’s with HDMI ports will up-covert regular DVD’s to 1080p. All 1st generation system does not have have ability because of the lack of a HDMI port.

When i asked about providing us, the early adopters of the Xbox 360 with a HDMI adaptor for our units so we can then use 1080p gaming as well as up-scale regular DVD movies, i was told one does not exist yet.

I was told if i wanted a system with a HDMI port i needed to sell my Xbox 360 and buy a new one that had a HDMI port on it.

I don’t know about you, but i find that kind of reply beyond &%&&$.

The bottom line here is that as a early adopter, i feel cheated that all these new units can not only plug into the HDMI port on my TV and get 1080p resolution but they can also up-scale DVD’s to 1080p. Which my Xbox cannot.

I am stuck now with an inferior Xbox 360, which upscales my regular DVD movies to 480p. Where is the fairness in that?

I don’t mind playing my games in 1080i, or even seeing my regular DVD’s in 1080i, but i want to have the same ability that all the Xbox 360’s have when playing back DVD’s with HDMI.

To up-scale to 1080p.

What do you think? – Xbox.com forum post

Contact Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

An Open Letter to Microsoft Legal Department (Xbox Legal Group)

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New Zunes support DVD quality video over TV-Out

Zune Insider has a little update about specifics of the new Zunes up on their site, with the rather minor — but interesting — tidbit that the new Zunes natively support video of up to 720×480 at 30fps, or 720×576 at 25fps. These formats will only play at full quality via TV-Out — the Zune display is expected to be a regular 320 x 240 affair — but it’s nice to know that you’ll be able to lug around full DVD resolution movies on the next Zune, right?

[Thanks, alexsv: via Zune Online]

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Today’s most progressive game video: Wii Component Cables 480i VS. 480p

Okay folks, it’s laid out right here for you. If you got your grubby little hands on Wii, then maybe you’ve been wondering if the component cables really make a difference. Maybe you even blew off buying them, scoffing at the Wii and its low graphics capabilities when compared to the behemoth graphics on-board both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360.

Well, look no further. This video after the jump clearly shows a pretty fair-sized gap between component and composite, so you might want to reconsider picking some up if you can find ’em. If you were wise and invested in a set of cable, then you can gloat silently in your wisdom. Now I just wish someone would design a website with photos and video of everything I want to buy, laid out comparison-wise. It sure would make the whole decision process a lot easier.

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1080p Does Matter – Here’s When (Screen Size vs. Viewing Distance vs. Resolution)

I’ve read various articles debating the importance of the 1080p. I want to set the record straight once and for all: if you are serious about properly setting up your viewing room, you will definitely benefit from 1080p (and even 1440p.) Why? Because the 1080p resolution is the first to deliver enough detail to your eyeball when you are seated at the proper distance from the screen. But don’t just take my word for it: read on for the proof.

There are a few obvious factors to being able to detect resolution differences: the resolution of the screen, the size of the screen, and the viewing distance. To be able to detect differences between resolutions, the screen must be large enough and you must sit close enough. So the question becomes “How do I know if need a higher resolution or not?”. Here is your answer.

Based on the resolving ability of the human eye (with 20/20 vision it is possible to resolve 1/60th of a degree of an arc), it is possible to estimate when the differences between resolutions will become apparent. Using the Home Theater Calculator spreadsheet as a base, I created a chart showing, for any given screen size, how close you need to sit to be able to detect some or all of the benefits of a higher resolution screen. (Click the picture below for a larger version.)

Resolution vs. Screen Size vs. Viewing Distance Chart

What the chart shows is that, for a 50-inch screen, the benefits of 720p vs. 480p start to become apparent at viewing distances closer than 14.6 feet and become fully apparent at 9.8 feet. For the same screen size, the benefits of 1080p vs. 720p start to become apparent when closer than 9.8 feet and become full apparent at 6.5 feet. In my opinion, 6.5 feet is closer than most people will sit to their 50″ plasma TV (even through the THX recommended viewing distance for a 50″ screen is 5.6 ft). So, most consumers will not be able to see the full benefit of their 1080p TV.

However, front projectors and rear projection displays are a different story. They make it very easy to obtain large screen sizes. Plus, LCD and Plasma displays are constantly getting larger and less expensive. In my home, for example, I have a 123-inch screen and a projector with a 1280×720 resolution. For a 123-inch screen, the benefits of 720p vs. 480p starts to become apparent at viewing distances closer than 36 feet (14 feet behind my back wall) and become fully apparent at 24 feet (2 feet behind my back wall). For the same screen size, the benefits of 1080p vs. 720p start to become apparent when closer than 24 feet and become full apparent at 16 feet (just between the first and second row of seating in my theater). This means that people in the back row of my home theater would see some improvement if I purchased a 1080p projector and that people in the front row would notice a drastic improvement. (Note: the THX recommended max viewing distance for a 123″ screen is 13.7 feet).

So, how close should you be sitting to your TV? Obviously, you need to look at your room and see what makes sense for how you will be using it. If you have a dedicated viewing room and can place seating anywhere you want, you can use this chart as a guideline. It’s based on THX and SMPTE specifications for movie theaters; the details are available in the Home Theater Calculator spreadsheet.

Recommended Seating Distances and Resolution benefits (small)

Looking at this chart, it is apparent that 1080p is the lowest resolution to fall within the recommended seating distance range. Any resolution less than 1080p is not detailed enough if you are sitting the proper distance from the screen. For me and many people with large projection screens, 1080p is the minimum resolution you’d want.

In fact, you could probably even benefit from 1440p. If you haven’t heard of 1440p, you will. Here’s a link to some info on Audioholics.com. It is part of the HDMI 1.3 spec, along with 48-bit color depth, and will probably surface for the public in 2009 or so. You’ll partially be able to see the benefits of 1440p at the THX Max Recommended viewing distance and the resolution benefits will be fully apparent if you are just a little closer. I’ve read of plans for resolutions reaching 2160p but I don’t see any benefit; you’d have to sit too darn close to the screen to notice any improvement. If you sit too close, you can’t see the far edges of the screen.

In conclusion: If you are a videophile with a properly setup viewing room, you should definitely be able to notice the resolution enhancement that 1080p brings. However, if you are an average consumer with a plasma on the far wall of your family room, you are not likely to be sitting close enough to notice any advantage. Check the chart above and use that to make your decision. And remember, the the most important aspects of picture quality are (in order): 1) contrast ratio, 2) color saturation, 3) color accuracy, 4) resolution. Resolution is 4th on the list and plasma is generally superior to LCD in all of these areas. So pick your display size, then measure your seating distance, and then use the charts above to figure out if you would benefit from the larger screen size.

Microsoft gloat over PS3 HD ‘issue’

No 720p fix?

As you’ll probably know if you’ve been keeping abreast of the latest gaming news over the last couple of weeks, the PlayStation 3 has something of a technical problem concerning high-definition support. Put simply, on older HD boxes that sometimes don’t support 720p resolutions, the PS3 is currently only offering 480p – which is the same as the current generation of games consoles.

Last week Sony promised a patch to fix the problem, but it appears the solution may be more complex; the PS3 not supporting such high-definitinon TVs at a hardware level. Promises of a fix have also subsequently disappeared though the platform holder do assure us they are looking into the problem.

Now Microsoft’s Andre Vrignaud (Xbox Live technical strategy director), speaking on his personal blog, has twisted the knife into Sony over this problem, stating a fix could be very difficult: “…it appears there’s no internal hardware scaler in the PS3. As reported, it appears the PS3 is unable to output a consistent signal to your TV based upon your desired selection (ie, what your TV supports). This means that while I might want to play Resistance in 1080i, if the game doesn’t support it the console drops down to a lower-common denominator of 480p. The game then tells me that if I want to play in the best quality, I need to quit out, go to the dashboard, change the PS3’s resolution to 720p, and then relaunch the game. Oh, and when I return from the game, I’m obviously still at 720p, and not the 1080i I’d prefer to navigate the dash with. I experienced this myself and I can tell you it’s hugely frustrating.”

Vrignaud concluded: “This issue also affects people who have older HDTVs that only support 480i/480p and 1080i (not 720p – this was pretty common with earlier CRT HDTVs). These folks have no way to scale the game’s output to 1080i, and are thus forced to play in 480i/p. This smells of the console being rushed to market, and I’m not holding out any hopes for any significant fix. It’s bad, and feels like something Sony would have fixed if possible. My guess is the ‘fix’ they’re working on is going to be a bit of streamlining in the dashboard (perhaps a switch to automatically change back to 1080i/p when returning from a game), but the core issue isn’t going to be fixed. I hope I’m wrong, though, for the sake of all those folks having problems.”

More bad news for Sony? Quite possibly, though given this expert’s employer it would be rash to write-off Sony’s chances of satisfying owners of older HD sets, even if at the moment the situation is ambiguous. We’ll keep you posted.

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3rd party Wii component cables

Those HDTV owners lucky enough to have a Wii may well know the sting of the Wii component cable shortage; with the ~$2 part (cost, not retail) fetching upwards of $100 on eBay, we think Blaze may have just saved the day with its $6.71 3rd party Wii component cables. Unfortunately even those are on backorder until this Thurdsay, the 30th, and even then you have to buy it from the same totally unimpeachable operation that brought you the Wii glove. So either way it looks like your ass is going to be rocking the 480i until further notice.

Check it out!

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720p PS3 games downscale on older HD sets

If you have a 1080i-capable television (that would be many older HD sets), you may be dismayed to learn that 720p PS3 titles will not upscale to fit the resolution. Instead, 720p titles will always be downsized to 480i or 480p. IGN confirmed this after testing four games — Resistance: Fall of Man, NHL 2K7, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07, and Need for Speed Carbon — on a 1080i set that did not support 720p; all scaled down to 480p.

Take it as you will, whether you prefer 1080i or 480p. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 currently upscales 720p to 1080i if necessary (i.e. 720p is not supported).

[Thanks, Kumar Shah and Miniboss]

[Update 1: Doing a little more research after reading many of the comments, turns out we might have been too generous in saying that most older HDTVs support 720p. We took out that sentence; just be sure to know what you set does and does not support. Also, rephrased the 480p vs. 1080i. I just tested the difference. Yeah, a bit different.]