The Xbox 360 Elite will not output multi-channel PCM audio over HDMI, as with Core and Premium systems

New details of the recently announced Xbox 360 Elite bundle have unraveled on AVS Forum.  Microsoft previously unveiled the Xbox 360 Elite bundle, equipped with an HDMI video output last week. Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president, Mobile and Embedded Devices Division, whose group worked on the HD DVD function of the Xbox 360, released details of the upcoming Xbox 360 Elite’s HDMI output capabilities in a forum post.

Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox 360 Elite supports the HDMI 1.2 specification, unlike Sony’s PS3, which is HDMI 1.3 compliant. When connected to an HDTV set with HDMI input, the Xbox 360 will automatically select the appropriate video output resolution up to 1080p. Users cannot manually force resolutions as the Xbox 360 relies on HDMI handshaking to select a suitable resolution.

HDMI audio output remains crippled with the Xbox 360 Elite. The Xbox 360 Elite, even when connected to HDMI will not output uncompressed multi-channel audio. Xbox 360 HD DVD users hoping to enjoy the full glory of lossless HD DVD audio formats via HDMI should look elsewhere.

 “If you are keen on having 5.1 PCM output, I recommend purchasing the Toshiba A2 player which after the price drop, will be much cheaper than Elite,” said Majidimehr. When connected to an HDMI home theater receiver capable of processing audio over HDMI, the Xbox 360 will continue to output Dolby Digital, DTS or WMA-Pro to compatible receivers. Dolby Digital Plus and TrueHD audio tracks will continue to be down mixed and output no different from the Xbox 360 Core or Premium systems.

Nevertheless, the Xbox 360 Elite can output 2-channel PCM audio over HDMI. “Our goal was to provide a digital connection for video which people wanted for some of their TVs. And of course, single cable A/V connection. So if having analog video bothered you before, you can now use digital. If you lacked component/VGA on your TV, you are in business with Xbox 360 Elite.”

Expect a spring HD DVD software update to introduce DTS audio output capabilities to existing Xbox 360 Core and Premium systems. Majidimehr also promises the spring update will address the HD DVD lip-synchronization issues.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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