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Using Microsoft Xbox 360 As An HD-DVD Player

With the convergence in the market of HDTV, HD DVD Players and HD Game Consoles, it is inevitable that one would look to how to use one device for all functions. In this review we look at using the Microsoft Xbox 360 as an HD-DVD Player.

Picture comparisons were made by CNET using a Toshiba HD-A1, using video output at 1080i. to HDTVs.

FOR

Design - stand the drive upright or lay it down horizontally.

Operability - Easy set up. Although Microsoft does not officially support PC connectivity, you can hack the player to work with a PC, using a copy of DVD playback software, such as WinDVD8, that supports playback of HD DVD discs.

Connectivity - connects to other Xbox 360 models via USB cable. Package includes an Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote. Two rear USB ports on HD DVD Player. Dedicated snap on mount for the Wi-Fi adapter. Output HD DVD in 1080p format using either a VGA or HDMI connection, while the component video output is limited to 1080i--just as on other HD DVD players.

Games - Peter Jackson's King Kong HD DVD exclusive title comes included.

Image - Picture compares well with Toshiba HD-A1, using video output at 1080i. to HDTVs. In standard definition, using the HD DVD add-on driver and the HDMI output at 1080p it performed nearly identically to the built-in DVD player on the Xbox 360. The HD DVD player struggled in the jaggies tests and also failed the 2:3 pulldown test, never kicking into film mode and moire being present in the stands.

Program material showed better performance, better than most. PlayStation 3 still has a slight edge.

AGAINST

Design - Outboard HD player design gives unconnected feeling compared to fully integrated PS3

Operability - No HD disc player - need to purchase an external Xbox 360 HD DVD Player. Need extra power supply - the drive has its own external power supply. The Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on is limited in high-resolution audio formats. It cannot output the full resolution of Dolby TrueHD or Dolby Digital Plus or DTS-HD Master Audio.

Connectivity - Only one integrated rear USB Port.

Games/Film Image - Able to display video commentary in a picture-in-picture window and eve download content from the Web. Blu-ray won't be adding this feature until later.

 

OVERALL

Overall, 1080p performance over HDMI was pretty good, in spite of the 1080i deinterlacing flaws, with significantly less artifacts than the Toshiba HD-A20 in 1080p mode

Load times on the HD DVD add-on drive were comparable with standalone players. [ 30 seconds to load, with movie playing in about 50 seconds]. Comparable to the newest Toshiba players.

VGA output was good, with solid lines in 1080i mode via component-video ; colors were well-saturated.

Even with some soundtrack drawbacks, the Xbox 360 HD DVD player worked well as a HD DVD movie player. Adding $200 to the cost of the Xbox 360 takes the total cost of the console to the same price as the PlayStation 3 and its integrated Blu-ray drive.

The Xbox 360 Video Marketplace offers downloadable high definition movie "rentals", obviating the need for an add-on disc player.

The PS3 is going to be the better overall solution from a design standpoint with Dolby TrueHD playback.

Remember, to get the true video quality benefits of HD DVD, you'll need an HDTV with your Xbox 360 connected to it via component video, the optional VGA adapter, or HDMI [newer models].


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