View Full Version : Xbox 360 HD DVD Review and Comparisons!

12-14-2006, 17:07
Xbox 360 HD DVD Drive Impressions and King Kong/Batman Begins Comparison

HD DVD 360 Drive Impressions

When Sony officially announced that the new Playstation 3 was going to include a Blu Ray player, Microsoft quickly countered this with fact that they were (no surprise) planning on supporting the rival, HD DVD with an optional add on drive that although would not play games, would allow users access to a cheap next gen video player. While there has not been a clear winner in the format war, and non is expected to emerge for quite some time, is the drive, priced at $199, worth your hard earned money? I just recently made the purchase, and will attempt to help you make your own decision with my impressions, including HD DVD and DVD movie comparisons.

What is HD DVD?

So in case you don’t know, HD DVD is one of the two formats that are in competition to be the successor to DVDs. I think that the best way to showcase their differences is with a little side by side comparison, shall we?

*Both are capable of outputting multiple formats, but these are the preferred by each manufacturer.

As you can see, the similarities far outnumber the differences, with the majors being both the primary codec and studio support. The codec is used to code the video, and there are pros and cons of both, with VC-1 being the newer of the two. The pros of VC-1 are that it is a much more efficient (3 to 4 times) then MPEG-2 and therefore make smaller files look better, ultimately utilizing less disk space. MPEG-2 is still a great format, and with larger disks available for Blu Ray, companies can use the extra room to compensate. All this is moot in some cases, as Blu Ray is capable of utilizing the VC-1 format, and some of the newest releases (Superman Returns) are VC-1 on both HD DVD and Blu Ray.

The studio support, on the other hand, is what makes the debate rage on. The fact that you can’t get certain movies on both formats makes it necessary to have one of each if you want to see all of your favorite movies in HD. As it stands right now, I prefer the HD DVD lineup as movies such as Batman Begins, V for Vendetta, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and King Kong are all (as of now) exclusive to HD DVD.

There other thing that makes HD DVD different then Blu Ray, is the inclusion (on some movies) of what is referred to as the “In Movie Experience” or IME. This, in my opinion is one of the coolest features of HD DVD, and basically integrates the special features into the movie. While you watch, there is a (for lack of better words) picture in picture box that shows interviews and behind the scenes footage as it relates to the scene that you are watching.
For example, when you turn IME on in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you are not only constantly receiving goofy little trivia facts, but also comparisons of green screen effects, and preliminary sketches, with the actual scenes. As someone who always meant to watch the special features but never did, this makes it that much easier as it is integrated in the movie. If you are interested in how movies are made, then this feature is fantastic. Blu Ray also has attempted a similar option that has so far been only integrated with one movie, Black Hawk Down, and is not as comprehensive as IME.

Turn on the In Movie Experience

Its called "Television Chocolate"...don't ask...
Funny Trivia!
Picture in picture tells how the scene was set
Find out what the director was thinking!

What’s in the Box?

HD DVD Drive
USB Cable
Power Cable
Media Center Remote and Batteries
Install CD
King Kong HD DVD (on first run?)



Set Up

When you get all of the stuff out of the package take the CD that contains the drivers and put it in the drive of the system. The system will then prompt you to attach the drive, and all you have to do is take the unit, connect the USB and power cables, and place the drive next to or on top of your system, depending on if you have the 360 invertical or horizontal position.

Don’t worry about losing the USB port for the wifi adapter, the HD DVD drive has its own place to attach it. When you get it attached, the software will install the necessary update, and reboot to a slightly different looking dashboard. Instead of the single drive that usually says “load game” or “load dvd” you will now have a segmented icon that will display either load the HD DVD drive (top), or the internal drive (bottom). Once this is done, feel free to pop in a disk and take your investment for a spin. When I did this, I was prompted to download another update from Xbox Live, so since I don’t want to see this every time I run an HD DVD, I chose to accept it. As it comes with King Kong lets check out what that disk has to offer.
http://www.gamescentral.com/photos/tek_jansens_ps3_gallery/kongmenu1.jpg Top menu

http://www.gamescentral.com/photos/tek_jansens_ps3_gallery/kongmenu2.jpg Top menu

http://www.gamescentral.com/photos/tek_jansens_ps3_gallery/kongmenu3.jpg U-Control is kind of like a mini IME. If you turn it on, you can control when you want to see the bonus content kind of like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

http://www.gamescentral.com/photos/tek_jansens_ps3_gallery/kongmenu5.jpg You can switch scenes while the movie is playing.

http://www.gamescentral.com/photos/tek_jansens_ps3_gallery/kongmenu6.jpg Audio choices

http://www.gamescentral.com/photos/tek_jansens_ps3_gallery/kongmenu7.jpg You can set your favoite scenes and come back to them by accessing this menu...all while the movie is playing.

http://www.gamescentral.com/photos/tek_jansens_ps3_gallery/kongu1.jpg This is a shot of the U Control. by selecting it, you can see behind the scenes when the movie is playing.

Pretty cool huh?

Now, lets have some more fun. Here is a little side by side comparison of the HD DVD and the regular DVD played with my upconversion DVD player. I snapped these with my camera, so they may not do the best justice, but should give you a good idea of what to expect.
Just to let you know what I am using, I currently own a Sharp Aquos that is capable of only 1080i. I am also only using the component cables that came with the 360, as my TV does not have a VGA or DVI port (and a VGA to HDMI converter is waaaaay to pricey). I plan on upgrading to a 1080p capable unit later this month, so will update this when that happens.
The Top is the DVD, the bottom is the HD DVD.
http://www.gamescentral.com/photos/tek_jansens_ps3_gallery/konghd4.jpg As you can see the differences are quite apparent. Not only is the HD DVD much clearer, but the colors are also much brighter and richer.
Let's try this again with Batman Begins just for fun.
http://www.gamescentral.com/photos/tek_jansens_ps3_gallery/bathd4.jpg These didn't come out quite as good, but let me tell you, the differences are very obvious in person. Batman Begins is one of my favorite movies, and to be honest, I feel that the HD DVD competes, and in many ways surpasses the IMAX experience (how I first saw the movie).


So after spending some serious time with the HD DVD player, I would say that it is a very sound investment. The difference between HD DVD and regular DVD is astounding, and really offers a true next gen experience. The price, at only 200 bucks, is a steal, and the fact that it comes with a great movie makes it even sweeter.

If you are worried about this becoming obsolete, there is always a chance, albeit slim. Although there is no clear winner to the format war, many experts are placing their money on HD DVD, and for good reason. The format is reliable, there are already some truly great titles available, and IME really makes it stand apart.

If you already own a PS3, and are thinking that this may be overkill you are probably right. I am in the process of doing a comprehensive Blu Ray/HD DVD/Upconversion DVD head to head to head, and will post my results as soon as it is complete.


Though the comparisons aren't direct feed it's still a nice home made review of this great player.

:arrow Source (http://www.gamescentral.com/blogs/tek_jansens_explosive_gaming_experience/archive/2006/12/12/xbox-360-hd-dvd-drive-impressions-king-kong-and-batman-begins-comparison.aspx)

12-14-2006, 17:17
... and that is why I've been saying that neither format will beat DVD. DVDs still look great.

12-14-2006, 17:25
... and that is why I've been saying that neither format will beat DVD. DVDs still look great.

Pictures dont do justice in comparing the two. I have a 52in 1080p tv and although I can only play 1080i HD movies it still looks way way way better then standard dvds. I actually think its better then cinema.

Once HD DVD drive hit the 100-200$ range they will sell like crazy.

12-14-2006, 17:29
I agree that low res pictures aren't good to compare resolution, but I still think that DVDs look great. I guess it would be a different story if I had a 1080p TV (stuck on "lowly" 720p).

12-14-2006, 17:30
Yup, ill be completely honest, Ive got this drive and i love it, but i did buy it more so i wasnt using my 360's drive for dvd's.

HD DVD's do look better it is noticable, the sound is amazing, but like aleman said and i said many months ago Im still rooting for dvd's, it can easilly last aslong as HD DVD/BLU RAY.

Ive got King Kong Superman and Batman begins, but i dont plan to buy anymore for a while. If you buy every Film you want on HD DVD or Blu ray i think your mad. While the quality is noticeable, i would only get films i REALLY WANT on the high def format.

Just as an idea you can pick up batman begins for 5.99 on DVD or 16 .99 on hd dvd, HMV in uk is selling superman for 26 pounds out of stores!!!! thats like 3 times as much as the dvd one or atleast 2.5 times more expensive.

If im buying HD DVD i HAVE to get it from an online store to get it near a reasonable price.

I do love HD DVD and any High Def material, but DVD kicks ass still, and has plenty of life left in it. DVD will live on for a long time thanks to this flippin format war, i dont see a winner myself. i refuse to buy my 200+ movies again on HD and movies like Hitch etc are completely pointless to own in HD.

12-14-2006, 17:34
DVD upscaling still does it for me.

BTW, Das, you up for some PES6 in a couple of minutes?

12-14-2006, 17:39
i am glad i bought it, i got discount, so i got a nice HD DVD/ Upscaling DVD player for 90 pounds, which i was gonna spend on just the dvd player.

so yeah its all good!

yeah i fancy some Pro evo, your gonna kick my butt lol. I just gotta feed my son and do a dungeon on Zelda TP, are you on all night?

12-14-2006, 17:42
If I were to give into a future investment beyond the HD Experience it'd have to be Blu-Ray. I'm not slandering HD-DVD as it does everything as well as Blu-Ray can, but the extra space and innovative technology feels more like a step up rather than an upgrade like HD-DVD professes to be. Although HD-DVD is inexpensive-sorta, I would use my money for a future investment, not a placeholder.

12-14-2006, 18:03
I have many movies on dvd and they just look great. My problem with the new HD movies is the price of the discs. They look better than dvd but still expensive.

12-14-2006, 18:08
I agree that low res pictures aren't good to compare resolution, but I still think that DVDs look great. I guess it would be a different story if I had a 1080p TV (stuck on "lowly" 720p).

And I think that's the problem. There's no point in getting a next-gen format if you don't have the next-gen HDTVs (especially since 1080p in movies is better than 720p in every possible way except HTCP, which would be a problem for people with anything less than a HDMI of course). 720p is acceptable, but still not all that, if you wanna get HD-DVD or Blu-Ray.

12-14-2006, 18:19
i am glad i bought it, i got discount, so i got a nice HD DVD/ Upscaling DVD player for 90 pounds, which i was gonna spend on just the dvd player.

so yeah its all good!

yeah i fancy some Pro evo, your gonna kick my butt lol. I just gotta feed my son and do a dungeon on Zelda TP, are you on all night?

Nah, wont be on all night. Should be on all of tomorrow and tomorrow night though.

12-14-2006, 19:23
Well, there is a difference but it's not toooo much. The biggest and most astonishing difference is the one with the boat, that difference is HUGE.

A Toshiba HD DVD Player with HDMI and a 1080p tv would make it look even better.

12-14-2006, 19:31
HD DVD are expensive, thats why I use netflix :)

12-14-2006, 20:18
If both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray lose, I'm going to flip out! There has to be some kind of defintite winner in the next year...

12-14-2006, 20:20
If both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray lose, I'm going to flip out! There has to be some kind of defintite winner in the next year...

I'm guessing it will end up like the DVD-R and DVD+R "war" did... they will co-exist as soon as dual format players come out.

12-15-2006, 15:16
This is where sony is 1up on the competition, the blu-ray player comes as standard in each ps3 console. This allows the whole media war 1 sided, coz Sony is a big contender in the console war winning the media war is only an added bonus along the way.

12-15-2006, 15:27
nice review, a very good one

12-15-2006, 15:45
The dvds look darker than the hd-dvds.
I could probably fix that up a bit with my tv though

12-15-2006, 17:58
hd-dvd is looking nice, you can tell very good on the last batman pictures, but how much detail do we need in a fast moving actoin title ? when i am watching a movie i have to concentrate on story, chars, dialogue and often enough on subtitles too, there is no room left for me to appreciate the added pixel detail :-)
dvd is still good enough for me.