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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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By Scabies on 11/30/2006 4:39:59 PM , Rating: 3
Cmon MS, get us an HDMI cable and be done with it.

RE: jeez
By MooseMuffin on 11/30/2006 4:53:18 PM , Rating: 2
If it were that easy, they would have released it already.

RE: jeez
By FITCamaro on 12/1/2006 1:34:35 PM , Rating: 3
They can't. They'd have to license HDMI and then all the Xbox 360s already in existence wouldn't have it.

RE: jeez
By darith27 on 11/30/06, Rating: 0
RE: jeez
By AstroCreep on 11/30/2006 6:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
I'm just wondering how tough it would have been to include an HDMI connector on the HD-DVD add-on.
You get the HDMI connection, and it helps make M$ richer. :p

RE: jeez
By clayclws on 11/30/2006 6:05:08 PM , Rating: 2
HDMI on the HD-DVD? I thought HDMI transfer graphics and sound from the engine, in this case, the Xbox 360. You can't add in just like that without changing the whole Xbox 360...not to mention adding it to a HD-DVD player...

Correct me if I am wrong.

RE: jeez
By boardstrapd on 11/30/2006 7:12:33 PM , Rating: 3
You're right, Clay. HD-DVD drive, or any optical drive for that matter, just reads the data from a disc. The 360 handles the processing and sends the output to your display and receiver, just like what a sound card, and video card in your pc does.

If HDMI were added to the drive, you'd have to somehow pass back the processed signal from the 360 to the drive. USB can't handle the bandwidth of a processed HD signal. And if the processing was added to the drive, that'd basically be a standalone player, which would cost way more than $200.

RE: jeez
By otispunkmeyer on 12/1/2006 4:34:44 AM , Rating: 2
no you cant just add it to the HD-DVD drive since all that does is stream the info via USB to be processed on the 360

but surely the 360's output already provides audio and video on one connection, why cant they just make a cable that ends in a HDMI plug?

or have like a converter block that houses HDCP stuff and has a HDMI connection on its end? ready to jus stick a connector on

can that be done? i know the 360 outputs digital sound since its got the optical out on the back of the VGA connector....but does it output digital video?

RE: jeez
By darith27 on 12/1/2006 11:07:23 AM , Rating: 1
read it and weep.

hdmi is a big deal.

RE: jeez
By AlexWade on 11/30/2006 6:55:22 PM , Rating: 3
I've got a question for all those HDMI demanding people: Do you actually have a HDTV? If you do, does it support 1080p? If it does, can you tell a difference between 1080i and 1080p?

RE: jeez
By Scabies on 11/30/2006 8:40:06 PM , Rating: 2
Yes - Sony KDS-50A2000
Yes - Over HDMI only
Yes - my computer was hooked up over HDMI, but it is kind of a jury-rigged solution. I used 1080p with overscan compensation for video playback and some games, then 1080i for web browsing, windows navigation, and some games that had things close to the screens edges that I had to see.

But I am a stickler for details, and it's all up to programmers as to what level of detail will be coming out of the DVD's / HD-DVD's. What I can and cannot distinguish on my TV is, therefore, irrelevant. I just want to know that when possible, I am not missing out.

RE: jeez
By KingViper on 11/30/06, Rating: 0
RE: jeez
By tayhimself on 11/30/2006 11:01:13 PM , Rating: 2
On the contrary it is you that is missing the point. Yes 1080i and p output the same resolution, but unless you are staring at a still screen 1080p has the possibility to give far superior image quality. You have greatly reduced blur in scenes involving motion. I mean, if its good enough to send pixels every other frame to alternating scanlines why even bother wasting 2x the bandwidth for progressive scan?

Please don't bring enjoyment vs. gfx into the debate, I have a GBA and DS rather than PSP and plan to get a Wii if more good games come out for it.

RE: jeez
By KingViper on 11/30/06, Rating: 0
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
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?

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
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...

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
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.

RE: jeez
By Hemipower on 12/1/2006 1:01:28 AM , Rating: 2
I dont understand your reason. if 480i and 480p have the same resolution why does 480p look like a 100 times better. shouldn't it be the same for 1080i and 1080p.

I have seen both and dont really see difference in my 61" sam. dlp but ill give that benefit to gears of war being a better game grahically than resistance fall of man.

RE: jeez
By rushfan2006 on 12/1/2006 11:37:57 AM , Rating: 2
And I counter your counter to the other

The difference between 1080i and 1080p will be argued to the Nth degree by the layman just because this is what sales material has told them to justify higher prices, and we all know from the time we have our first true thought on our own -- if it costs more it MUST be better right? ;)

While this truly turns out to be the actual case in 9 out of 10 cases....sometimes its not.

I go to the experts when people debate on forums on what the real skinny is -- with all respect that folks on forums may rightly deserve, remember I don't know you guys from in seeking expert advice from forum posters I take it with a very fine grain of sand.

Having just read an article from Crutchfield on the matter - they actually state what matters more than anything with an HDTV is the quality of the product overall -- the quality of the electronics, the screen, etc. They also mention that to the unskilled eye on a decent set there is almost no way you can tell 1080i from 1080p resolution they both simply look gorgeous.

I think people put too much stock in the buzz words "progressive" and "interlaced" -- they read how one is line by line refresh and how one is full screen....well obviously they have to be HUGELY different.

In fact they aren't...they just aren't.

RE: jeez
By Whedonic on 12/1/2006 1:43:00 PM , Rating: 2
All buzz words and marketing aside, I can clearly tell the difference between progressive and interlaced video/games. And progressive looks much, much better.

RE: jeez
By rushfan2006 on 12/1/2006 4:50:41 PM , Rating: 2
My first reply would be wondering what quality of HDTV you are talking will notice a difference with the higher end sets ....I've seen 1080i sets look better than cheaper 1080p sets believe it or not.

In general though....I kid you not -- on decent sets I can't tell a hint of difference, at least not on movies -- I don't play any games on my HDTV (well I have an Xbox that I play about 3 times a YEAR but its obviously not HD).

And any difference that is seen its certainly no where NEAR *HUGE*...

RE: jeez
By abhaxus on 12/2/2006 9:21:16 AM , Rating: 2
There is a big difference between a 1080i CRT set and a 1080p LCD/DLP/PDP for film based content. Deinterlaced/pulled down to 24p a film source will look better on a 1080p set. Also it should be said that most CRT HDTVs are only capable of resolving something on the order of 1400 lines of horizontal resolution as opposed to the full 1920.

What really helps CRTs over the newer technologies is contrast. While an LCD or PDP may be brighter of possibly higher resolution, a CRT is almost always higher contrast. So on equal sources, resolution and refresh rate aside, a CRT will look better in terms of color and black levels.

There's advantages to both. I don't see how you can say you've seen 1080i sets look better than 1080p in terms of resolution or refresh rate... interlacing looks really bad for motion and destroys the movie theater "feel" of film. But for color and contrast I would choose a CRT every time. Pie in the sky, I'd rather own a Pioneer PRO-FHD1 honestly, but I don't have 8 grand to spend on a TV :)

RE: jeez
By rushfan2006 on 12/4/2006 12:07:31 PM , Rating: 2
There's advantages to both. I don't see how you can say you've seen 1080i sets look better than 1080p in terms of resolution or refresh rate... interlacing looks really bad for motion and destroys the movie theater "feel" of film. But for color and contrast I would choose a CRT every time. Pie in the sky, I'd rather own a Pioneer PRO-FHD1 honestly, but I don't have 8 grand to spend on a TV :)

Do you people have bionic eyes or something? "Interlacing looks really bad for motion" this a paper telling you that, or theory? Because I don't know how much more honesty I can convey through a text based forum than to say "in all honesty I've seen it with my own eyes" looks FINE!!! I don't see ANY problems except when you compare the different KINDS of sets -- like you said , I too would chose CRTs over LCDs pretty much any day of the week.

Secondly, the 1080i vs 1080p quite simple actually ..I was in a speciality video store drooling at the sets I can't hope to afford and then looking at the ones "almost" in my price range and the sales guy simply told me which was "i" and which was "p".....and like I said before....I'll believe someone like that over just folks who post opinions on the board.

Ultimately, all things said and done...I just want a good picture....most of you people seem to be all absorbed in "who has the best toy on the block" mentality......with this 1080i verse 1080p stuff.

My comments from the start were just based on real life experience, and information from actual experts. Not just people who get upset if you knock their 1080p system down since they dropped $4k on it, and someone comes along and bursts their bubble by saying "funny my set looks simply gorgeous in 1080i and I paid half of what you did"....


RE: jeez
By RamarC on 11/30/2006 10:00:56 PM , Rating: 2
hdmi will need hdcp. you can pipe out high-def content via component outptus without restriction, but a digital stream will be copy-protected and that requires a hardware component (not just a cable).

RE: jeez
By MrPickins on 12/1/2006 10:29:41 AM , Rating: 3
HDMI doesn't require HDCP, iirc.
You can pass a standard DVI signal down it.

Enough acronyms for ya? ;)

RE: jeez
By RamarC on 12/4/2006 9:57:03 AM , Rating: 2
since the output is digital (and could be used to make a perfect copy), hdcp is required to display protected high-def content (e.g.: play a movie) via dvi or hdmi. using components, the output is analog and protection is not an issue but the content may be downrezzed.

VGA lacking color?
By Dulanic on 11/30/2006 5:15:21 PM , Rating: 2
I am shocked to read people have issued with color being faded and washed out with the VGA connection. I used VGA for my 360 and it actually has too much color I had to turn it down on my TV.

RE: VGA lacking color?
By clayclws on 11/30/2006 6:01:42 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe you should take pictures and discuss it over at their forum. Go on...

RE: VGA lacking color?
By JonM on 11/30/2006 6:02:13 PM , Rating: 2
Same here, I found that odd.

RE: VGA lacking color?
By ElJefe69 on 12/1/06, Rating: -1
RE: VGA lacking color?
By JNo on 12/1/2006 4:10:13 AM , Rating: 3
1080p at full refresh does not work over component, was not supposed to, has been shown not to, no article ever said it worked, no tv ever did it.

Can you supply evidence please?

RE: VGA lacking color?
By otispunkmeyer on 12/1/2006 4:41:10 AM , Rating: 2
well i used VGA to my 17inch CRT and in alot of games the colours appear bland, dim and not very rich

i presumed this was just because the monitor is on its last legs though, but when i use it with a computer it seems just fine.

By Transcendental Ego on 11/30/2006 5:34:50 PM , Rating: 1
I think it's ironic that it was a one of Sony's televisions that was not correctly displaying the first update.

RE: Planned?
By mydogfarted on 11/30/2006 5:41:58 PM , Rating: 2
I missed that. Too busy giggling over "Major Nelson". I wonder if Jeannie or Col. Bellows works at Microsoft too.

RE: Planned?
By Scabies on 11/30/2006 6:10:48 PM , Rating: 2
I think that has to do with Sony televisions accepting only 1366/768 resolutions, and doing a literal display. Therefore, the other Xmillion pixels on the screen are black, and you get like a letterboxed picture. My KDS-50A2000 does that to computer VGA-in, so I have to do DVI-HDMI-TV in order to fill the screen

RE: Planned?
By andrep74 on 12/1/2006 12:27:46 AM , Rating: 2
No, my mother just got a XBR3 and it does 1920x1080:

They come in 40", 46", and 52" versions...

RE: Planned?
By Scabies on 12/1/2006 1:18:30 AM , Rating: 2
I forgot to clarify. It wont accept anything over 1366/768 over VGA. My Sony does 1080p on HDMI and up to 1080i on component, but anything over "720p" on VGA gets the weird black box effect.

Who here really wants HDMI?
By anonymo on 12/1/2006 8:44:08 AM , Rating: 2
Is it just me or would anyone else rather a DVI / optical connector over HDMI? I mean, HDMI was invented to alleviate the non-technical of their problems with hooking up their HD setups. I'd rather not have to hook up the HDMI to my TV then run an optical cable from my TV to my receiver...

RE: Who here really wants HDMI?
By deeznuts on 12/1/2006 1:18:19 PM , Rating: 2
It's the same thing. Who says you have to run all of that? With the PS3 it asks if you want to run audio over the HDMI. You select no, and then run the audio from the PS3 to your receiver.

1080p etc
By exdeath on 12/1/06, Rating: 0
RE: 1080p etc
By Spivonious on 12/1/06, Rating: 0
"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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