I recently purchased by XBox 360 Premium Box from a local Pune retailer. A few weeks later I also purchased my 40" Sony Bravia High Definition LCD TV. The first thing I did was hook up the XBox 360 to the Sony HD TV to see what it looked looked like - and boy was I happy with the results!
The XBox 360 Gaming Experience in High Definition: As soon as I hooked up the XBox 360 to my Sony HD TV and fired everything up, I was amazed by the clarity, colors and brightness of the panel. I connected my XBox 360 to the Sony HD TV using the HD AV component video cables that came with my XBox 360. I also used an optical digital cable (also called TOSLINK) to output the digital audio content to my Yamaha R-V1103 AV Receiver.
Note: The coaxial digital connection is superior to TOSLINK/Optical digital connection - and would have been my preferred connection, but it is not available on the XBox HD AV Pack
Since my previous TV as a non-HD TV, my XBox was originally configured for that TV. I got into the XBox Guide Menu and went to the System menu and changed the settings on the Console from standard TV to High Definition TV - as soon as I did that my picture went fuzzy and started doing strange stuff. That's when I remembered that the XBox connector had a small sliding switch at the bottom of the connector to switch between TV and HDTV. I changed the setting on my XBox connector and viola - the picture was phenomenally amazing!
I was really stunned by the clarity of the High Definition content. I also change the output setting from 480i to 1080i as this was the highest mode was supported by my TV (most LCD/Plasma TV's available in India right now do not accept 1080p signal). After that I shut down my XBox 360 and restarted it - the results were spectacular. The initial XBox 360 logo was displayed in HD clarity - the text on the screen had ultra-crisp edges - not a single jaggie - and super smooth - I was blown away.
I then popped in my Burnout Revenge game disk to check out the difference. Burnout Revenge can detect that your TV is set to HD mode and displays a special screen - EA High Definition Gaming - when in this mode. Once I started the game and got playing I notice the spectacular difference between playing games in standard definition and high definition. The colors were vivid, the details very clear, you could see every single detail so clearly that it was amazing! It was truly like 'looking out of a window' experience that most HD owners experience.
One of the main problems, that I found during my research, between LCD vs. Plasma specially for games and fast motion is the issue of motion blur which is a problem prevalent in LCD TV's. This is caused by the response time required by an LCD to change the image on the screen - the manual for my Sony Bravia LCD TV lists the response time of my TV at 8ms (milliseconds) which is the best an LCD TV can do at the time of writing (compare this with close to 0 ms for a CRT/Plasma TV). The response time can cause ghosting of images or motion blur for fast moving images specially in games - I am happy to report that there was no motion blur or ghosting that I was aware of during my gaming experience with Burnout Revenge, which has pretty quick action.
I tried another game - Perfect Dark Zero - and the results were stunning. There is a clear difference between the old standard definition (480i) and the new high definition (720p, 1080i, 1080p) resolutions that are simply amazing and once you see high definition content - you cannot accept anything else. Overall I am very happy with the results of mating my XBox 360 with my HD TV.
The XBox 360 as a DVD Player: I was curious to see how the XBox 360 would perform as a DVD Player. As reported previously, the XBox DVD Player sold in India is a region 5 player and will only play PAL content - it cannot play any other region (except universal or all region) discs. This was obviously a big disappointment, but I learnt to live with it. The XBox 360 does its DVD decoding and de-interlacing using the on board 500MHz ATI graphics processor. I also found after a little research that the XBox does not use all 3 cores in the IBM PowerPC CPU while playing the DVD player and some of them shut down during DVD playback.
The XBox DVD Player has the capability to output at 480i, 480p, 720p and 1080i (the 1080p will be provided as a software upgrade as per Microsoft press release). The XBox 360 games are output in all the formats upto 1080i assuming it is supported by the game. However, and this is a real bummer, the DVD Player only upscales DVD's to 480p thats it - period! No 720p or 1080i upscaling - what a let down! But considering the overall price of the Xbox 360, on which Microsoft is actually losing money, and considering what all it offers, it makes sense from a business perspective I guess. It would have been nice if the XBox 360 also came in a Premium Premium Pack that allowed the DVD Player to output at the highest supported resolution. So this is one thing to be aware of.
The media remote that comes with the XBox 360 Premium Pack is small, simple and uncluttered and does the basic job well. The load times of the DVD player are good and the menu's are intuitive and easy to use. The other nice feature I like is that the XBox remembers where you last left off and restarts the DVD at the correct point once you turn it on again. This is a real nice feature and very convenient - I really like it.
I popped in the 'Assault on Precinct DVD' to check out the difference. I really liked the images in terms of color and clarity. The lines were crisp and sharp and the black levels were very deep - none of the dark gray that you hear about in other LCD TVs - Sony obviously has done a great job with that. The fast moving action scenes were also great to watch with no obvious motion blur - the smoke, fog and snow rendered perfectly with excellent clarity. A lot of scenes in this movie have dark scenes with a lot of shadows, the DVD player and the TV performed very well in this area also and I was not at all disappointed. Compared to my old Sony Sony DVP-S500D DVD Player, I could see the difference in clarity and sharpness that was the difference between the 480i of my old player and the 480p of my XBox 360 DVD player which is a progressive scan DVD player.
Why LCD TV is a better choice than Plasma TV for XBox: Unlike a plasma TV, LCD TV's do not have a burn-in or image retention (IR) problem which is usually caused by static images in games (the score bar or other static images on the screen) as well as by static content on TV (ticker tape running at the bottom of the TV). In a plasma TV, the static images can cause the phosphors in that area to burn unevenly causing a image retention (which is not as severe as burn in) which manifests as a faint image of the static image even after the TV is switched off and then on again. Image retention is not so serious and goes away after some time. Burn-in is a more severe problem that causes the phosphors in the static image area to burn in - and this does not go away after a while and is more permanent in nature. Of course the technology is getting better all the time, with pixel shifting and other solutions for these problems in Plasma TV's, but I just didn't want to take any chances. This was the main reason that I opted for the LCD TV over the Plasma TV in the first place as I knew I would be playing a lot of games.
XBox DVD Player Review
Microsoft Support - How to connect an Xbox 360 console to a TV by using the Component HD AV Cable