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The telling Q&A about HDMI on Xbox 360
The upcoming Xbox 360 Elite should make HDMI transparent to developers

The black Xbox 360 Elite with the 120GB is all but officially confirmed by the lips of Microsoft’s public relations machine. A Microsoft XNA Framework Developer, however, may have quietly confirmed the existence of the upcoming revised Xbox 360. Couple this with today’s spy shots of black Xbox 360s on a Chinese production line and the new Elite console is as close to official as it can get.

In a question posed under Microsoft’s Developer Network, a user asked in the XNA Game Studio Express section if any code changes are required to support the HDMI output on the revised Xbox 360. Shawn Hargreaves, XNA Framework Developer at Microsoft, replied simply with “No changes required.”

The comment by Hargreaves marks the first comment from a Microsoft employee acknowledging the HDMI output on the Xbox 360. Furthermore, his reply insinuates that the new HDMI output options will be completely transparent to developers, leaving the video duties completely up to the scaling hardware inside the new Xbox 360.

This could mean that games that don’t natively support 1080p resolution, such as Gears of War, may be upscaled to support the highest HDTV resolution. Movie lovers could be the ones who benefit the most from the added HDMI connection, as current Xbox 360 will only send a maximum signal of 1080i through component cables.

For owners of the current console, using a VGA cable is the only way to hit 1080p, but the upcoming Xbox 360 Elite will finally give home theater fanatics their connector of choice.



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p vs i
By fxnick on 3/26/2007 11:09:29 PM , Rating: 2
Is there even a noticeable difference between 1080p and 1080i?




RE: p vs i
By nerdtalker on 3/26/2007 11:24:30 PM , Rating: 2
That's a whole different ballgame, my friend.

There's been considerable debate about what the difference looks like for action movies or fast-action scenes. Honestly, I can't really tell much difference between 1080i and p on my monitor, except that with p everything looks a tad sharper (even though I know it shouldn't).


RE: p vs i
By javiergf on 3/27/2007 12:30:39 AM , Rating: 2
Hi, the big question for me, it is not the difference between 1080i and 1080p, Xbox 360 already has 1080p support through composite cable.
My question to all of you, is there any real difference between using good composite cables (like these monster gold) and HDMI, I mean 1080p will be 1080 regardless?
I understand that a bigger HD will be welcome by everybody, but what's the big deal with HDMI. Will the average user notice a difference on quality? Not to foget that most of the HDTVs we have at home, either support 720p or 1080i...


RE: p vs i
By alifbaa on 3/27/2007 11:17:46 AM , Rating: 3
First of all, I believe you mean component, not composite. Component has three cables to carry the signal, composite is the old, crappy SD one cable solution.

Second, it makes absolutely no difference what "quality" of cable you use to transmit component video the 3-6 feet between your device and your monitor. Monster likes to tell you there is, yet they mysteriously never submit their cables to independent review to test their pseudo scientific claims. This allows them to charge the outrageous premiums they extort from you at best buy. All any of these cables are is just simple old coaxial cable. You can easily buy the cheapest stereo and composite cable (3 cables in 1) for $10 and connect them to your component inputs. I guarantee you that you will never ever notice even the slightest difference.

Third, the current XBox 360 does NOT support 1080P over component. They promised it would, in my opinion, knowing that 1080P over component is a technical impossibility. They never delivered. It's not a big deal, except that they advertised the capability. Most people do not have monitors capable of accepting 1080P, much less displaying it if they bought their sets as late as last year. That is starting to change, so M$ is coming out with the HDMI version.

Fourth, for your question of will you notice the difference... The difference will be fairly noticeable if you have a large monitor, at least 50" that is both capable of receiving, displaying, and actually resolving every pixel of a 1080P picture. I wouldn't go out and buy a new TV for 1080P, but if your current display can do it, or you are comfortable spending the added money, it is worth doing.


RE: p vs i
By therealnickdanger on 3/27/2007 5:20:01 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Third, the current XBox 360 does NOT support 1080P over component. They promised it would, in my opinion, knowing that 1080P over component is a technical impossibility.

This is false. You are confused. Component is capable of transmitting 1080p (and higher). The Xbox360 does not support 1080p over component for HD-DVD or DVD content , however, it will display 1080p native and upscaled game content when using component if your TV supports it. Furthermore, if your TV supports 1080p over VGA, you gain the ability to watch HD-DVD in native 1080p as well as upscaled DVD in 1080p if you upgrade to the VGA cable.

There are a lot of caveats regarding 1080p output with the Xbox360 which leads to the confusion, which is a shame. Hopefully we don't have to wait long for ALL Xbox360s to feature HDMI.


RE: p vs i
By Alexvrb on 3/27/2007 8:04:09 PM , Rating: 2
Excellent clarification by therealnickdanger. I'd also like to somewhat dispute your assertion that the quality of the cables makes no difference. After a certain "good enough" point, there's often little difference (certain picky people with better TVs than mine might disagree). However, a cheap cable that doesn't even make the "good enough" grade produces an inferior experience, especially with a 5-cable analog solution. I replaced the stock composite cables on my original Xbox with some el cheapo component cables, thinking all component cables should be better than ye old composite. The end result was very strange. When there was a lot of audio, the video would distort. When there was something on screen that was bright and colorful, an annoying buzzing sound would bleed into the audio. I replaced the cables with Microsoft brand component cables, and the problem completely vanished. Upon better inspection of the cheap cables, it was apparent that they were poorly shielded.

Just my two cents.


RE: p vs i
By javiergf on 3/28/2007 5:10:00 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks to therealnickdanger, alifbaa, Alexvrb for your responses. I still think most of the customers won't really tell much difference between 1080p on 5 "good analog cable" and HDMI, as long as your TV supports 1080p over analog cables. I have seen movies in 1080i and 1080p and the difference is not that great, unless you have a over 50'' TV. But again, that's just my opinion.


RE: p vs i
By EarthsDM on 3/27/2007 12:54:44 AM , Rating: 1
It should look sharper! Interlaced video gives you a scene one half of a frame at a time. That means that if something is moving it looks like:...............instead of:

................................................. ...........=OOO........................=OOO
................................................. .....=OOOOO.......................=OOOOO
................................................. ...........=OOO........................=OOO

Note how the ball (bear with my terrible ASCII art) on the right looks round, while the other does not. If most people can't tell the difference, fine for them. I can pick out refresh rates on most CRT monitors, and so I'm cursed with the need to seek ever higher refresh frequencies...

(Please ignore the periods above, DT doesn't render spaces)


RE: p vs i
By glennpratt on 3/27/2007 1:37:33 AM , Rating: 1
On somewhat still scenes it shouldn't look sharper because the difference between fields is minuscule.


orly?
By dome1234 on 3/26/2007 10:10:13 PM , Rating: 4
or it could be "controlled" leak, given the amount of viral pr these days, you'll never know.

btw, didn't ms was ripping sony's overengineered beast on the "unnecessary" hdmi?




RE: orly?
By PAPutzback on 3/27/2007 9:11:55 AM , Rating: 1
You'd be wrong. Now you know.


I wonder...
By BigToque on 3/26/2007 9:31:03 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if the person who asked the question was pretty sly and thought a clever side-stepping question might get someone to slip up about the reports of the new xbox...




RE: I wonder...
By PAPutzback on 3/27/2007 9:11:04 AM , Rating: 2
You'd be right


I guess you could say I was being sneaky
By PAPutzback on 3/27/2007 9:03:16 AM , Rating: 1
I guess I could of posted the link to that forum after I received a reply. But I wouldn't take this to mean much. I am not a XNA developer but I do you use a lot of the forums at MSDN. I just figured that was the best place to ask because someone out there might have beta machine and if it wasn't true I would of expected a moderator from MSDN to pull the thread. The reply was from a developer that might now even work for MS. XNA developer is just his title.

I am amazed at how a 3 word response "No changes required" to my post caused such a frenzy. Excellent




By PAPutzback on 3/27/2007 9:07:45 AM , Rating: 3
Here is a link to my post
http://forums.microsoft.com/MSDN/ShowPost.aspx?Pos...

A bunch of people have joined the MSDN community with hopes of finding out more. I think "No Changes Required" is the last you will hear from that group.


Wrong
By Derka on 3/27/2007 8:17:43 AM , Rating: 2
The aricle is wrong, Xbox 360 does output 1080p through component.




1080p over component...
By red71rum on 3/27/2007 1:19:56 PM , Rating: 2
I display 1080p over component cables on my Samsung 4695D. When playing I can hit information on my tv remote and the display is 1080p. When watching dvds I think my tv displays 720x480p because the VGA cable is needed for upscaling to 1080i.

While the HDMI connection would be nice, I hardly think that and larger hard drive constitute my getting the newer version.




1080p over component...
By red71rum on 3/27/2007 1:26:01 PM , Rating: 2
I display 1080p over component cables on my Samsung 4695D. When playing I can hit information on my tv remote and the display is 1080p. When watching dvds I think my tv displays 720x480p because the VGA cable is needed for upscaling to 1080i.

While the HDMI connection would be nice, I hardly think that and larger hard drive constitute my getting the newer version.




AUDIO
By deeznuts on 3/27/2007 1:43:28 PM , Rating: 2
What about Hi Def Audio? Can it be passed through HDMI? That's the only thing that concerns me. I want multichannel PCM and soon TrueHD and DTS-HD. Does the Xbox pass these through or will we still be stuck with Dolby Digital/DTS?




HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By OculusX on 3/26/07, Rating: -1
RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By Staples on 3/26/2007 10:43:59 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong on both accounts.

Component cables can carry a 1080p signal but it is not a standard spec and many 1080p TVs do not and will not ever support the capibility to pick up on a 1080p signal over compoent.

The video on HD DVDs as well as Blu Rays is 1920x1080.


RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By nerdtalker on 3/26/2007 10:51:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Component cables can carry a 1080p signal but it is not a standard spec and many 1080p TVs do not and will not ever support the capibility to pick up on a 1080p signal over compoent.
Wrong on your own assertion.

Component cables are perfectly suited to 1080p. Just because certain TVs don't support 1080p signals doesn't mean all TV's don't. In fact, 1080p is already supported by the Xbox 360 in the dashboard, and games such as Gears of War are already upscaled to 1080p. I do it every day on my BenQ FP241W monitor. Explain to me how that's possible if it isn't a "standard spec."

Upscaling to 1080p is hardly anything worth getting excited about, since the box already does it via Component and VGA.

quote:
Component video is capable of producing signals such as 480i, 480p, 576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Component_video and http://www.epanorama.net/documents/video/rs170.htm...


RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By OrSin on 3/27/2007 8:37:18 AM , Rating: 2
HDMI is not needed is right and wrong. Component cable can care signals as high as 3000p. But the standard spec for 720p and 1080i. So all and I mean all TV sets with compenet only cable can only do 720 and 1080i. The HD standard was created for broadcast tv and they was set to 720p and 1080i. These standards exist for years before cable and sattilite was even thinking HD. only the last few years could you even get more than a few local HD channels from anywhere. And they was all in 720p or 1080i.
When the HDMI was created and HDCP was added to it. Film companies started to see high then 1080i as some thing that could be useful. But even then no content was made for it.
People are all crazy on 1080p but until last year you could no get a 1080p signal to your TV. Yes you could from your computer that even that market was crazy limited.

Why would microsoft put in a 1080p standard when when no 1080p signl exist for anything else. Now a year later people are asking for and now they are adding it. But really less then 2% of the house has a 1080p TV. 2 freaking percent.

Sony added 1080p signals ot promote thier Blue ray and to win that format war. Not becuase its even needed. Right now 1080p TV cost twice what 720p TV cost at the same size.
And consider thier is only 1 meduim for 1080p signals and you have to by the disc at crazy prices. You are asking for alot of cash for very little. Sorry but unitl cable or sattilite goes 1080p its just worth it to me.


RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By Methusela on 3/27/2007 12:10:15 PM , Rating: 4
Regardless of whether or not component or HDMI cabling is required to carry the signal, since both are legitimately capable of carrying full 1080p (and below) content, the question is what will that 1080p mean to me in the context of the games? How does existing content look on my display? Is my display capable of doing true, native 720p, 1080i or 1080p? All of these things are important for a number of reasons.

The definitive answer is: it depends on your TV. The reason for this is that yes, most HDTVs at home are 720p or 1080i capable, or both - sorta. These are the claimed capabilities, but how the manufacturers accomplish this is the bit of trickery that most directly defines how sharp your display will be.

Another important question to ask is: Is the content natively 720p, 1080i, or 1080p? This plays a large role in the image quality of what we view.

For the record, 720p is 1280 x 720 resolution, 1080i & 1080p are 1920 x 1080 resolution. The differences between i and p are described elsewhere in greater detail than I'm willing to commit, but suffice it to say that they have to do with the frame rate of displayed content - not resolution.

Until recently, most plasma TVs below 50 inches had a resolution of 1024 x 768; most plasma TVs above 50 inches had a resolution of 1366 x 768; most all LCD TVs had a resolution of 1366 x 768 (or something close to this); most rear-projection DLP and CRT HDTVs had one or the other of these common resolutions. The thing is, almost all TVs with these resolutions claim to be capable of both 720p and 1080i. But, given the definitions of the resolutions required for each of these 'standards' above, how are TV manufacturers able to accomplish and/or claim support for both?

The answer is that the content is being scaled or cropped by the TV (usually, although sometimes by the input device - such as your XBOX, dvd player or cable/TIVO box - is what does this scaling) to fit its display area. As such, for both 720p and 1080i, a 1024 x 768 resolution TV will have to discard some pixels (image content). Meanwhile, a 1366 x 768 will show the full 1280 x 720 but generally upscale (add content) to fit neatly in the entire viewing area of the TV but, just like its smaller resolution siblings, it will have to rescale and discard pixels to show 1080i. So, almost all content on the vast majority of HDTVs around the world is being scaled up or down to fit the display resolution of the HDTV.

Now that we understand what's going on with the majority of HDTVs produced in the last ten years, the final thing to understand is how this scaling or cropping of the content takes place. Well, the short version is that it's really not much different than taking a picture on your digital camera, putting it on your PC, and zooming in or out in an image viewing or editing software. In this case, your PC is doing some scaling (via complex math that approximates, or guesses, what and where to add image data or remove it) when it displays the picture either larger or smaller than its native resolution. Some software and hardware, such as a specialty professional graphics card, do a better job of displaying this additional or less content than others, and the 'speed' of your PC will sometimes have a large impact on how quickly the image is scaled/resized.

For TV content scaling, we can think of it in the same way. In most HDTVs, there is a dedicated chip programmed with software made to scale an image smaller or larger to fit on your screen. The quality of the software and its complex 'guessing' math, as well as the relative 'speed' of these chip are what cause the scaled images to be sharper or fuzzier, in most cases.

In the case of the XBOX 360 ICHIBAN EREET EDITION (and prior versions), the XBOX is outputting content at either its native resolution or at some scaled resolution to fit your defined preferences. From there, your TV is taking that content output (no matter what cabling is used) and scaling it to fit its display resolution. So, your XBOX 360 NUMERO UNO JOHN ROMERO SIGNATURE WTBAD HTTP://OWNAGE.COM edition may take native 1080i game content, upscale or downscale based on your configured preferences, then may be upscaled or downscaled to fit your TV's display area. That's a lot of conversion, and that's where the majority of image quality is defined in non-native display scenarios (in other words - most scenarios).

So, in conclusion, image quality is not just a cabling capability issue. Rather, it is usually a case of various content resolutions and the display resolutions of the screens on which we're viewing this content. No matter what content we're viewing, the quality of image on non-native display resolutions is mostly dependent on the device(s) doing the scaling, and not so much on the cabling used if that cabling is capable of handling the transmitted data. Sometimes it looks great, sometimes it looks bad, but it never looks as good (sharp) as full content resolutions displayed natively on a given screen.


RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By MrDiSante on 3/26/2007 10:53:09 PM , Rating: 2
Why don't you follow your own advice? HD-DVD along with Blu-ray use 1080P (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hd-dvd#Video). Furthermore, I'm not sure about 1080p over component, but a number of TVs including my friend's Sony Bravia don't play nice with 1080P over component. And could someone check out whether there are any 360 games coded for 1080P? Aside from that, go 120 GB + HDMI Xbox 360, I think it's a great development. I'd also appreciate a price drop.


RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By Marcus Yam on 3/26/2007 11:08:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
no games are coded in native 1080p resolution

Actually, Virtua Tennis 3 and NBA Street Homecourt are the two first Xbox 360 games to support native 1080p. Crazy, eh?
http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=6023
quote:
The HD-DVD format uses 1080i

Mine works fine at 1080p, but ONLY when using the VGA cable. It will not allow a 1080p signal via component thanks to the need for HDCP.


RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By edpsx on 3/26/2007 11:42:19 PM , Rating: 2
The reason they stated this in the article was because the Xbox 360 CANNOT do 1080p via Component cables, not because component cables cannot do 1080p. The 360 can only do 1080p via the VGA cable like stated before because of HDCP. So if your TV doesnt have a VGA port, your outta luck. Then again if you dont have a 1080p TV it doesnt matter anyways. HDMI is the way to go for most anything I think. #1 its digital #2 one connector (less mess, easier to hookup) I just wish they would stick with one specification and be done with it.


RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By walk2k on 3/27/07, Rating: -1
RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By Lazarus Dark on 3/27/2007 7:33:25 AM , Rating: 2
Why cant any of you get it through your head, the 360 does 1080p over component. But not for hddvd as hddvd will only do 1080i over component on the 360, vga is required to view hddvd at 1080p, I don't know if that's required or if microsoft did it to prevent any complaints from the hddvd people. The 360 will scale games and I believe dvd's to 1080p over component. By the way, my Westinghouse 37" 1080p lcd accepts 1080p signals over component just fine.


RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By Munkles on 3/27/2007 8:13:15 AM , Rating: 2
Lazarus,

No need to get upset, people wont get it through their heads because until its a STANDARD and supports EVERY media (HDCP compliant) it might as well not support it at all.

Plus the TV's that DO support full 1080p over component are few and far between. They are usually also tv's that dont comply with the HDCP standard and may not be able to play HDCP content. Sooo those of us concerned with HDCP content will usually avoid them like the plague.


RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By namechamps on 3/27/2007 8:00:37 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong again. HDCP is protection for digital signals only (DVI & HDMI). There is nothing in HDCP that would prevent or cause problems with 1080P over component.

The truth is:
1) The 360 supports 1080P over component.
2) Some but not all TV support 1080P input by component.
3) The component standard allows for 1080P and even higher resolutions.

Now some TVs might not support 1080P over component but that has nothing to do with "standards". For a long time most TVs didn't support 1080P over HDMI. Some of the first 1080P TVs didn't support 1080P input from any input. Does that mean HDMI doesn't "officially support" 1080P? No of course not. It simply means the TV manufacturers were shortsighted and trying to save a buck.


RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By BMFPitt on 3/27/2007 10:04:44 AM , Rating: 2
The XBox 360 can do 1080p over component to an HDCP enabled TV (the only kind that most people would want) in the same way that a Corvette with a speed governor set to 65 can do 100.

I think I'd rather play a game at a native 720p than an upscaled 1080p. I'm not a big fan of upscaling unless the TV doesn't support the resolution you're rendering.


RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By walk2k on 3/27/2007 2:42:51 PM , Rating: 2
Nothing can do HDCP over component. It's digital-only (DVI or HDMI).


RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By borowki on 3/27/2007 8:05:00 AM , Rating: 2
And IIRC, Blue Dragon supports 1080p.


RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By JimFear on 3/27/2007 11:54:18 AM , Rating: 2
HDCP is for digital connections only, VGA is analogue.


RE: HDMI is not needed for 1080P
By jmunjr on 3/27/07, Rating: 0
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