[360] HD-DVD Addon (review)

Discussion in 'Games' started by Haoshiro, Dec 23, 2006.

  1. Haoshiro macrumors 68000

    Haoshiro

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2006
    Location:
    USA, KS
    #1
    As some of you know I am planning to setup a gaming center in my coffee shop next spring. This will be a console gaming area and will start with Xbox 360.

    I'm also going to have movie nights where people can come watch movies in serious HD (1080p, 62" screen, 5.1 audio, and HD-DVD). With 360 that means the HD-DVD addon. I'm sure we'll do american football parties, etc here as well but that is neither here nor there for this post, heh.

    Anyway, I decided I could pick up the HD-DVD addon ahead of time and get a movie library started, test it out and see how it really is. I went to Best Buy and picked it up along with Fearless and Batman Begins.

    All right, on to my impressions/review...

    First I have to say this is an excellent bargain in my opinion. You not only get the HD-DVD drive, which will eventually work on both PC/Mac (maybe even PS3? :)), but you also get the Xbox 360 Universal Remote (MSRP $39.99), and King Kong HD-DVD (also MSRP $29.99)

    That makes the drive end up only costing $140.01, for something this new that is excellent value. Not even PS3 with its built-in Blu-ray includes a remote, does it?

    Opening it up I was happy to see King Kong was not just in a paper sleeve, but the full retail product, shrink wrapped and all. Down with cheap pack-ins!

    The Universal Remote is also very nice, much nicer then I expected. If you have a 360 and no remote for it, this thing will make your life a heck of a lot easier. Not having to "turn on" a controller to pause your movie or play some music is great. Add to that it lets you program it for your TV, and my ViewSonic N2750w hasn't had luck with universal remotes... but this remote worked fine. Finally, I can turn on the TV and the 360 with one remote. I still want to get the Logitech 360 Harmony, but this was still a great addition to the package.

    On to system setup... you toss in an install disc into the 360 before connecting the HD-DVD drive. Then you conenct the power to the drive, then the USB. The HD-DVD drive includes two extra USB connections on the back, so you trade in one and get 2, not a bad deal.

    The system then detects it automatically and finishes the setup process in a very short time (<1m). That splits the left "tray" that is at the bottom of the Xbox Guide into two sections so you can choose to play a game/dvd in the main 360 drive, or a hd-dvd/dvd in the HD-DVD drive. A simple solution that works.

    I then opened King Kong and put it in, which caused the 360 to launch it immediately. Immediately I got a message saying there was an update available, so I allowed it to download and install.

    That evidently posed a temporary problem. I jumped into the movie by selecting a scene, and it was VERY laggy, unwatchably laggy. I nearly paniced, and was very dissappointed. I thought it might be the movie or the drive itself. Every scene I selected had the same problem. It would play okay for a few seconds, then jerk and pause.

    Knowing I was dealing with a Microsoft device, my wife suggested I "reboot", and that is exactly what I did. I was glad to see it also worked and I never had another performance problem. Strange, but I'm happy it was an easy solution.

    The quality was fabulous. Everything was extremely clear and vivid. I had watched a Blu-ray demo which included several clips and trailers for several blu-ray movies and I must say only one of them impressed me, a computer animated "barnyard" trailer. So it has potential, obviously, but the rest of them looks somewhere between "bad" and "good", dissappointing.

    But the HD-DVD on the other hand looked perfect, this drive was definitely capable and I was only running in 720p but it still looked excellent.

    Unified Menus. Wow, that is nice. All HD-DVDs (or at least everyone I have it seems) shares a common menu rather then having the studios/publishers craft a custom menu for each movie. This, to me, is great. Much easier for the average consumer, harder to confuse them or force them to figure out how to use it. Plus, I'm sure i'm not the only person who has had their DVD player have issues with some dvd movie menus, where you can't see what is selected, etc. So that is a great move.

    You can also access these menus anytime while the movie is playing. That means real-time changing of the audio options for things like Languages and Subtitles, and it also means it's faster to access. It gives great feedback to the user that once they get out of the menu they'll still be right where they were before.

    The other features I noticed were nice, but more of a gimmick to me. These were My Scenes and U-Control.

    My Scenes lets you bookmark scenes so you can access them quickly without scrolling through every scene. Probably handy if you are one of those people that likes to re-watch speficic scenes over and over.

    U-Control so far hasn't offered much. It puts "U" logo in the bottom right and if there is a special feature for the scene you are watching, it will expand and you can select a feature real time. In use this always ended up a PIP with commentary, etc. I wouldn't be surprised if it also let you change camera angles, etc, if a movie actually supported that. DVDs had a similar feature and I never saw it used.

    All in all the value was great, the quality is excellent, and the features are refined. I have to say HD-DVD is impressive and I intend to fully support it.

    Hopefully my vote counts in the end. But if Blu-ray wins, I'll still not have invest enough to make me upset about it.... what would upset me is the cost of buying into Blu-ray, something I could afford to do right now frankly.

    I still doubt this is quite mass-market yet as people will be content with DVD for several more years. I think HD-DVD will interest most people 6-12 months after they've owned their HDTV, and even HDTV is still in a minority.

    But if you are interested in HD movies and have an HDTV, I can say that HD-DVD did not disappoint, and getting an HD-DVD drive for $140 is a price you just won't be able to beat. I can only imagine how fast these are going to sell when they are fully working in Windows and Mac OS!
     
  2. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Location:
    Ireland
    #2
    I bought one as soon as they were released. It's a great machine and I think it's a bargain too considering remote & king kong.

    The bit about software updates, actually a lot of the HD-DVD players standalone need this so it's not a microsoft thing, its a next gen HD thing. :)

    A few movies tell you about it on the back of them. Your machine may require latest HD-DVD firmware update to play this movie ;)


    King Kong has exceptional picture. And I love the screensaver if you leave it on pause.


    Here are a few titles I've bought so far. (in less than a month eek).

    Video is video quality, not a review of the movie.


    Charlie & Chocolate Factory. Exceptional picture & great sound combined. Video: 9/10 Audio: 8/10


    Superman Returns. Great transfer but the films has a lot of artificial grain added to it in post production leaving the image a bit flat.

    True HD sound though is utterly amazing. There are parts of the film that actually make your stomach rumble.

    Video: 7/10 Audio 10/10


    Van Helsing Very good picture noticeable improvement over DVD, and great sound, but not a showpiece.

    Video: 7/10 Sound 7/10


    The Bourne Supremacy. An excellent film parcelled with amazing sound and picture quality.

    Video 9/10 Audio 9/10


    Serenity Ok I dont like the movie, just insipid space adventure with unlikeable protaganists for me, but...... as far as quality of fim transfer and audio. This is unsurpassed. Every minute detail both in vision and sound is brought to life.

    Video: 10/10 Audio: 10/10



    Sleepy Hollow a noticeable improvement over DVD, but with so many filters and stuff applied to the image in post production, the quality is softened and not as remarkable as other HD-DVD's unfortunatley. But this is a movie making decision and not a fault of HD-DVD

    Video: 7/10 Audio: 7/10


    The Corpse Bride along with serenity and king kong this is a movie to put on to show off your new hardware. exceptional clarity.

    Video: 10/10 Audio 9/10


    Constantine Again far superior to its dvd sibling, the true HD audio rocks. Warner Bros are really putting together some quality HD-DVD titles.

    Video 8/10 Audio: 8/10


    Batman Begins fantastic picture, great audio but not quite reaching the echelons of other stand out titles. There is a bit of graining on the darker sections.

    Video: 9/10 Audio: 8/10


    The Thing A 20 year old movie, that actually really benefits from the jump to HD-DVD. The creatures look that bit more spectacular and there are things on the creatures like a nose ring that I never saw before due to the extra clarity. great all roung.

    Video 8/10 Audio: 8/10


    The Pianist the streets of war torn germany have never looked so shockingly beautiful. Such a deep crispness to the image complemented by an amazing audio experience. Great HD-DVD

    Video: 9/10 Audio: 9/10


    12 Monkeys. a great film that does benefit from HD-DVD resolution. But its not of stand out quality. Areas of the picture are a bit grainy and there is a general flatness in picture compared to other titles.

    Video 7/10 Audio 8/10
     
  3. Jovian9 macrumors 68000

    Jovian9

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2003
    Location:
    Planet Zebes
    #3
    Good review :)
    I too am enjoying my HD-DVD drive. So far I have purchased Batman Begins, Troy, Sleepy Hollow (and King Kong came with it). All of these movies look fantastic in 1080i. Target has a small selection of HD-DVD's now and Best Buy has a pretty large selection, plus I am getting HD-DVD's from Netflix so I feel as though there are lots out there for me to choose from already.
    I applied for a Target card when I bought it so I got 10% off and only paid $180 for it (paid it off immediately) :)
    I'd recommend this to anyone.
     
  4. Haoshiro thread starter macrumors 68000

    Haoshiro

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2006
    Location:
    USA, KS
    #4
    I wasn't complaining about the update, I was simply saying that directly after the update the movie played but was excessively choppy. If they had just rebooted automatically, or asked me to, it would have been different.

    Also, Fearless looked and sounded great, plus I really liked the movie.

    I did forget the Screensaver feature, which is nice.

    Although I did notice that if this came up while the movie was paused, it would briefly unpause the movie making sound come out the speakers, perhaps that was just Fearless, though.
     
  5. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Location:
    Ireland
    #5

    I know you werent complaining I was just remarking :p

    As for screensavers and the wee glitch

    No it does it in King Kong too.

    Also some of the HD-DVD's dont have screen savers. Only universal ones at the moment from the films I've got.
     
  6. huck500 macrumors 6502

    huck500

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Location:
    Southern California
    #6
    Can't wait to open mine on Sunday...:D

    I picked up Superman Returns, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and The Hulk (the best super hero movie yet...:eek: )
     
  7. gkarris macrumors 604

    gkarris

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2004
    Location:
    "No escape from Reality..."
    #7
    Wonderful

    To top it off, before Thanksgiving, Circuit City had an online coupon good at any store for $40 off any purchase over $199. So I got mine for $160!

    I have "Forbidden Planet" - it was remastered for HD and the picture doesn't look like awesome HD but it's essentially the original! Much better than the original DVD!

    HD-DVD is a great value if you already have the 360...

    From what I hear, though, you need a large screen and the movie needs to be shot or remastered for HD to make a difference...
     
  8. Spartacus macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    #8
    noob question

    How loud is this drive? Would I be able to use this drive to play my games and leave the super loud 360 drive empty? Will this drive ever be utilized for higher game capacity? I'm not all that interested in HD movies (most of the films I like [foreign, drama] are not supposed to look crystal clear and perfect) but if this drive could improve my gaming experience now or in the future then I'd go buy it today!

    Thanks.
     
  9. Haoshiro thread starter macrumors 68000

    Haoshiro

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2006
    Location:
    USA, KS
    #9
    The drive is quiet. To all your other questions, no.

    If the noise level of the 360 is a problem I recommend getting good 3D positional audio headphones, or a nice loud 5.1 system. I always play with the volume kicked up, and don't have problems with the noise level.
     
  10. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2005
    Location:
    visiting from downstream
    #10
    I got my HD-DVD add-on the first day they were available... in fact, I really annoyed the crap out of the EBGames/Gamestop people around with my incessant calling in and asking "Is it there yet?"

    Haoshiro's review is right on point. The HD-DVD add-on is a great bargain and it's a very well-crafted and well-designed device that does one thing really, really well: Play HD-DVD movies. If you have an Xbox 360 and an HDTV, you owe it to yourself to pick one of these up.

    My HD-DVD movie collection so far includes Serenity, Batman Begins, Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick, V For Vendetta, King Kong, Superman Returns, and Aeon Flux. Can't wait for Blade Runner and the Matrix films to become available.

    Here's a pic of the drive:

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Winstonp macrumors 6502a

    Winstonp

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Location:
    Boston
    #11
    The HD-DVD drive on our 360 was freazing all movies. HD and standard. We are having it repaired at microsoft. I like the Blu-Ray on the PS3 better. Simple interface, no add-ons, just put in the movie and you get 1080p...

    Also, the HD-DVD drive for the 360 supports up to 720p, not 1080p as you suggested.
     
  12. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

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    #12
    Dude, if you don't know what the hell you're talking about, please refrain from comment.

    The 360's HD-DVD add-on supports all the way up to 1080p playback, depending on how your 360 is connected to your TV:

    VGA
    HD-DVD - 1080p resolution and all others
    DVD - Upscaled as high as 1080p resolution and all others
    Games - 720p games upscaled to 1080p, also supports native-1080p games in the future

    Component
    HD-DVD - 1080i resolution maximum, limited by AACS
    DVD - Upscaled to 480p maximum, limited by CSS
    Games - 720p games upscaled to 1080p, also supports native-1080p games in the future
     
  13. Haoshiro thread starter macrumors 68000

    Haoshiro

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2006
    Location:
    USA, KS
    #13
    No, I'm afraid you are. The HD-DVD drive does support 1080p, you might have to connect it via VGA to get it, but it can do it.

    Odd you would send your drive to MS, why not just exchange it at the place of purchase??
     
  14. Winstonp macrumors 6502a

    Winstonp

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
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    Boston
    #14
    eBay.

    VGA 1080p? I seriously doubt VGA is going to give you optimal quality. Does anyone have links to prove that the 360 HD DVD drive supports crystal clear 1080p?
     
  15. greatdevourer macrumors 68000

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    #15
    VGA will give you exactly the same quality as Component, seeing as that's pretty much what VGA is
     
  16. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

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    #16
    Looks like someone has drunk the "only HDMI and 1080p are TRUE HD" Kool-Aid.

    Considering I run a 1920 x 1200 signal from my computers to my monitor through a VGA cable, I think VGA's up to the task of carrying a hi-def signal without distortion or loss of clarity. :rolleyes:
     
  17. Winstonp macrumors 6502a

    Winstonp

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    Boston
    #17
    I have a 24'' dell LCD with 1920X1200. When I use VGA, there is clear picture inferiority relative to when I use DVI. I thought this was common knowledge.

    This is one of the reasons why I can't comprehend VGA bringing superior 1080p resolution.
     
  18. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Location:
    Ireland
    #18
    Also are you sure you upgraded the firmware as mentioned earlier in this thread, the HD-DVD firmware has to be updated otherwise you may experience freezing stuttery peformance regardless of which HD-DVD player your using.

    Also your lack of actual knowledge of the basics like resolutions supported suggest you may be spinning the truth a bit to basically have a slight fanboy bash. So I remain skeptical of your post.

    and then you follow it with

    Wait ?

    So one minute your telling us your 360 is limited to 720p and then you try and tell us your running at 1080p on a dell LCD ? mmmm I think you have been busted ;)
     
  19. Winstonp macrumors 6502a

    Winstonp

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    Boston
    #19

    I never implied that I ran 1080p on my dell. I run DVI through my macbook with the dell LCD. I use my 360 on an HDTV with component cables.

    My main question:
    1. Does anyone know if VGA supports 1080p with relatively superior picture quality? Based on my experience, VGA is a bad choice for quality picture.

    If the answer is no, which I believe it is, I re-affirm my statement that the 360's highest HD resolution is 720p. Why? VGA is totally impractical and most HD TV's don't offer it. And even if you do have it, the quality of VGA cannot surpass DVI or HDMI.
     
  20. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

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    #20
    Yes. Of course, "superior" is a matter of opinion. VGA is superior to component as far as the 360 goes.

    This entire paragraph is a morass of opinion and statements that have nothing to do with each other.

    The Xbox 360's highest resolution is 1080p. This is a FACT. Stop saying otherwise, please, you're making yourself look like an idiot.

    VGA is impractical? Your OPINION. Most TVs don't offer VGA? Possibly, but for those of us who have VGA, it works really well with a 360.

    The quality of VGA can't surpass DVI or HDMI? Again, your OPINION.
     
  21. Mavimao macrumors 6502a

    Mavimao

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    Feb 16, 2005
    Location:
    Lyon, France
    #21
    Well, not really, it depends. VGA outputs in RGB (red, Green, blue plus a few sync plugs). Component is Brightness, Red and Blue (the color green is filled in later).

    Not the same thing. However, you can output component over VGA, but it's not very common. I am not sure if the 360 outputs in RGB or component with the VGA cable.
     
  22. Winstonp macrumors 6502a

    Winstonp

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    #22
    I thought it was common knowledge the VGA reduces image quality. Again, I've noticed it. So has cnet, who claims that VGA works such that a digital signal is converted into an analog signal.
     
  23. Haoshiro thread starter macrumors 68000

    Haoshiro

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    USA, KS
    #23
    VGA, however, is not inferior to Component... regardless of if it's not quite as good as DVI/HDMI
     
  24. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

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    #24
    And there's nothing to stop Microsoft from releasing an HDMI cable for the 360 should demand call for it.
     
  25. aspro macrumors 6502

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    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    Hobart, Australia
    #25
    Well, I am looking forward to picking this up if HD-DVD ends up winning the format war. Great review too.
     

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