Shall we steer this back on-topic?
Over the past few days I've contacted four different tech sites/blogs with this information and haven't received any response, not even a form letter. I won't be doing that again.
I wrote out an explanation when I sent this stuff in but a lot of the points have already been made in this thread so I won't repeat them.Camcorder video, HDMI screenshots demonstrating downscaling
With the previous dashboard, the 1080i output used a slight vertical filter (presumably to reduce interline twitter on true interlaced displays), but the 1080p output seemed to reproduce this test pattern with full detail. Now it's scaled to some intermediate resolution.
Zune Marketplace videos still appear to show 1080p detail levels, and since the other apps are limited to 720p anyway that means this particular issue only affects our own video files.
If you want to check the YouTube vids you'll probably have to switch the quality level to 1080p and go full-screen in order to see what the hell I'm attempting to demonstrate. As always I apologize for my poor photography skills. I would have used manual focus but I was holding both the controller and camera myself. The original 60 fps camcorder files can be downloaded from Megaupload
and may be a little less nausea-inducing. 720p test pattern
Full resolution intact, presentation improved in the sense that a black border is no longer added, but levels are wrong.
The images below have a histogram included on the right side. All of the screenshots have been expanded from 16-235 to 0-255 to appear correctly on a PC monitor set up for full range. This should be equivalent to what you would see by setting up your TV to accepted limited range on all examples, except that BTB and WTW are clipped by necessity.
In any event, the histograms show what the levels look like before being expanded.CG rendering that demonstrates levels - NXECG rendering that demonstrates levels - Metro
A good comparison you can make on your own TV is to go into the Zune Marketplace and load up a Preview that uses player-generated letterboxing/pillarboxing. You can tell this is the case when Stretch gets rid of black bars and fills your 16:9 screen; if it doesn't then the black bars are hard-coded. So in other words you're looking for the trailers of new 2.35:1 movies, or older movies where the available trailer is only 4:3 SD. I went with Transformers: Dark of the Moon
because I know it has plenty of dark scenes and screens of black with text.Transformers: Dark of the Moon trailer - Metro
Notice that setting Expanded and running it through a "limited" chain puts the levels where they should be on the Zune video, but then the interface-generated black bars are way out of range (along with the rest of the interface... and games). Meanwhile, setting Expanded on our own CG test clip pushes blacks into BTB. So, the black levels problem isn't even consistent across sources.
Corrections are welcome if I screwed up somewhere.