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Gears of War in 1080p on a Sony XBR3
Microsoft is not quite there with its 1080p support

Back in August of this year when Sony was touting the 1080p functionality on its PlayStation 3, Microsoft was downplaying the feature saying that it was all hype. Microsoft Director of Technical Strategy for Xbox Live had this to say about 1080p support on the PS3 at the time:

The PS3 has roughly the same pixel-pushing capabilities as the Xbox 360. Don't need to take my word for it, it'll be obvious soon enough over the next year. Even if this wasn't the case, consider we now live in a multi-platform development world, and that the current sweet spot developers are targeting is 720p due to the extremely similar system specifications. Simply put, a developer who is planning to release their game for both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 will aim for a common attainable ground. In fact, I'll stick my neck out and predict that that you won't see any 1080"x" games for the PS3 this year.

Well to the surprise of many in the gaming world, Microsoft did a 180 at the end of September and said that it would indeed support 1080p on the Xbox 360 with a Dashboard update. Adding this feature to the console would at least leave one less bullet-point that Sony could hold over Microsoft's head.

As scheduled, Microsoft released its Fall Dashboard on October 31 which added support for 1080p over VGA and component cables. So the Xbox 360 gets 1080p, all is right with the world, and we can all game in peace... right?

Wrong. Almost immediately, complaints of problems with certain TVs that were supposed to support 1080p over component not functioning as expected with the update started to flood the internet. Others were having problems with the VGA cable when hooked up to their monitors. All was definitely not well with the 1080p update.

So on November 6, Microsoft's Major Nelson acknowledged that engineers were working to solve the problems and that another update would be on the way to correct the issues. Well, it appears that the day is today and Microsoft has issued a patch to fix 1080p support on the Xbox 360. According to Major Nelson, the new Dashboard Update (which is available now on Xbox Live) addresses the following:

  • Improved support for HD video output over VGA, including 1080p resolution
  • Improved plug and play performance for wired headsets when being used with wireless controllers
  • Changes made to recently played games list to improve accuracy

According to posters over at the AVS Forum, it appears that Sony's XBR3 television can now correctly display in 1080p with the new update. But on the other hand, Joystiq's Christopher Gant states that VGA support still leaves much to be desired.

Still, despite the update's promise of "improved support for HD video output over VGA, including 1080p resolution" this blogger still encounters a significant (and certainly abnormal) amount of screen tearing while using the VGA connection, not to mention the pale, washed-out colors that have become emblematic of the 360's VGA implementation. But we're not the only ones with problems. A quick perusal of the AVS Forums thread shows some other anomalies that don't instill much confidence in Microsoft's upgraded upgrade.

So it looks as though it’s a mighty fine effort on Microsoft's part to get things patched up with 1080p support, but the work looks to be far from over. Microsoft opened up a whole new can of worms by adding 1080p support, but hopefully they will see it through.



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RE: jeez
By abhaxus on 11/30/2006 11:59:46 PM , Rating: 4
1080i and 1080p for movies is nearly a moot point. All current 1080p TVs can properly deinterlace a 1080i film based source to 1080p24. There is some jutter associated with this but I highly doubt that most people who have read this thread know what jutter is, and fewer still can recognize it with the naked eye. I have good eyes and do not notice it in most circumstances on a Toshiba HD-A1 and Sony 70" SXRD XBR2.

1080p60 for the game consoles is also a moot point. I highly doubt that any good games on this generation will actually natively support 1080p. Just as with computer games people often turn down the resolution to attain higher shader and graphical effects, the developers will almost always choose to have the console process the game in 720p then scale it to the output res. The only advantage to scaling on the console vs the display is theoretically lower input lag.

Does 1080p60 provide a better picture than 1080i60? Yes, but only for video based content (sports, games). But considering that 1080p is simply not possible with current broadcast/cable/satellite bandwidth, we won't be seeing it for these sources for a long time. Film based content can theoretically look better when broadcast/output at 1080p24 and then displayed at 1080p24sf, but seeing as 1080p24 isn't a likely broadcast standard that isn't going to happen either. So broadcast at 1080i then deinterlaced/pulled down to 1080p24 is the best we are going to get.

MS was right to say that 1080p doesn't matter. However, if given a choice on a console to output at 1080i or 1080p on a 1080p TV I would choose 1080p. Given a choice between only 1080i and 720p I would choose 720p. I also highly doubt that the vast majority of console gamers, who are now used to 30fps as a "gold standard" for ideal gameplay, will even recognize the extra input lag that the TV scaling a 720p signal to 1080p adds vs the console doing the scaling.

So in the end, I guess I don't see how any of it matters. Both companies have the bullet point now. MS screwed up a little bit, but not nearly as bad as sony did with the 1080i debacle. MS may not be providing an exactly ideal situation for owners of high-end HDTVs, but at least they aren't screwing over the millions of potential customers with low end HDTVs.


RE: jeez
By JNo on 12/1/2006 4:06:52 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I also highly doubt that the vast majority of console gamers, who are now used to 30fps as a "gold standard" for ideal gameplay, will even recognize the extra input lag that the TV scaling a 720p signal to 1080p adds vs the console doing the scaling.


Oh yeah? Then what do you call this?

http://uk.gear.ign.com/articles/720/720303p1.html

Sure, it may go unnoticed by many but this is *appalling* lag for scaling and I think anyone who buys a £1,000-£2,000 HDTV *deserves* to see no lag. Xbox360 / computer scaling it is much better...


RE: jeez
By Chaser on 12/1/06, Rating: -1
RE: jeez
By therealnickdanger on 12/1/2006 10:53:21 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Point is PS3 is a native 1080P machine from the start. M$ is now trying to do some firmware magic to make the same claim. Know of any 1080P games out there for the 360? Most are 720P or LESS.

LMAO. OK, this is very simple: since both the PS3 and Xbox360 hardware are capable of 1080p rendering AND output, they are both technically native 1080p. Both consoles use SOFTWARE to utilize what the hardware is capable of. Did you know that in the frame buffer of dev kits, both consoles can exceed 1920x1080? Should we then call them native 2560p? The Xbox360 employs full-time 4XAA on all games, should we say the Xbox360 is really 2880p? All you're doing is gobbling up Sony's PR material and spewing out FUD. We can play number games all day long.

It is a REQUIREMENT that all Xbox360 games must be rendered and support at LEAST 720p. The comment "Most are 720P or LESS" is complete FUD. It has been stated repeatedly by developers (the people that actually make games) that the majority of titles in this generation will be rendered in 720p in order to turn on as much eye-candy as possible.

I'd like you to take a look at the following videos and screenshots that compare the Ridge Racer 7 for PS3 (rendered in your perfect 1080p) and Ridge Racer 6 for Xbox360 (rendered in 720p). Notice all the detail and shadowing missing from RR7 that is present in the older, lower-res RR6? That's the price and the penalty of rendering 1080p without enough power. You could argue that it's a launch title and that the developer sucks or something and simply dismiss it, but it's been nearly a year since RR6 came out, there should be no excuse...

http://www.gamingblog.org/entry/next-gen-title-war...

For the record, developers for Xbox360 are allowed to create games rendered in 1080p if they so choose. Rumors abound that 1080p games are being developed, but having seen personally (not just the link above) RR6 and RR7 in action, I'll take more eye-candy over sterile sharpness anyday.


RE: jeez
By EclipsedAurora on 12/1/2006 12:37:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But considering that 1080p is simply not possible with current broadcast/cable/satellite bandwidth, we won't be seeing it for these sources for a long time.



Actually the Japanese had already introduced the 2nd generation HDTV in middle of this year. The new system, called BS110, is now broadcasting on air 1080p60 at 35Mbps 1080p, marking it as the highest quality digital video broadcast system in the world.

I was shocked when the first time I know that the bitrate of the live HDTV broadcast in Japan is even larger than HD-DVD, and come close with BluRay's 40Mbps!


RE: jeez
By FITCamaro on 12/1/2006 6:27:06 PM , Rating: 2
Yes and Japan's systems are far more up to date than the US's or Europe's. They built theirs after us so they benefit from it. Also the government runs it so the greed of corporations doesn't come into play when thinking about whether or not an upgrade is needed for cable and internet systems. Finally Japan is a far smaller country than the US so the cost to upgrade such systems is far smaller.

I haven't played either of those games but the Xbox360 version in the screenshots and the video looks way better than the PS3 version. Higher resolution isn't always better. Something like that is EAs philosophy and look at the "quality" games they're putting out. Obvious sarcasm here.


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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