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Optimal native resolution looks worse than 720p?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I have two TVs. First is a 1024 x 768 native plasma. My 360 is hooked in via HDMI. When I select optimal resolution in the Xbox's dashboard, it recommends 1024 x 768. Despite not being the native resolution of the TV, on regular 720p the image is far sharper and colors are much more vivid. My other TV is a native 1080p LCD. Again, HDMI recommends 1080p but setting it to that makes the dashboard look a bit fuzzier than 720p. Colors don't take as big a hit on this one but it's still a bit fuzzier. I'm fine with the Xbox being set to 720p, but I was just wondering why it looks better. I was under the impression that feeding the TV an image in its native resolution would improve picture quality. Having the Xbox outputting a non-native resolution requires the TV to scale it, right? A bit of research led me to believe that the 360's internal scaler outclasses the vast majority of HDTVs'. Both TVs were cheap Insignias, and while their picture qualities are very good (imo), it makes no sense that the image quality would take a hit in their native resolutions. Really curious as to why this is happening.

Thanks
Edited by Boomerthom - 11/25/12 at 12:10am
post #2 of 9
Hmm that is odd... I have a native 1080p plasma and the Xbox recommends 1080p but pretty much any resolution I feed it looks good. That being said I leave the xbox at 1080p and just let it do the scaling. I know most games are native 720p but I take into consideration video playback as well and I don't want it downscaled from 1080p to 720p.
post #3 of 9
Source-side scaling is almost always better than display-side scaling, and for the last 6 years the 360 has shown to do a great job at scaling. Any differences that you are seeing are likely to be settings related.

For example, on my 1024x768 plasma, feeding it 1024x768 over VGA was significantly sharper than 720p over component/HDMI. Black levels were different though, so I had to fiddle with those settings on the 360 and calibrate the display properly. This would explain a "vivid colors" issue that you are seeing, if your display treats resolutions differently in terms of calibration. On my 768p plasms, 1080p over HDMI was the best option as the TV did a better job of scaling down from 1080 to 768 than it did up from 720 to 1080. Geometry Wars 2 was sharp as hell with the 360 set to 1080, but kinda blurry set to 720p. On my current 1080p native display, the 360 set to 1080p is the best setting as the 360 knows what the source is and therefore scales the best, whereas the display would apply much more generic scaling that would maybe try to do some stupid temporal integration.

So, set the 360 to spit out your displays' native resolution, load up THX Optimizer on one of the DVDs that you already own, and calibrate your display. Without the calibration step, your eyes can not be trusted as your display is lying to them.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by darklordjames View Post

Source-side scaling is almost always better than display-side scaling, and for the last 6 years the 360 has shown to do a great job at scaling. Any differences that you are seeing are likely to be settings related.
For example, on my 1024x768 plasma, feeding it 1024x768 over VGA was significantly sharper than 720p over component/HDMI. Black levels were different though, so I had to fiddle with those settings on the 360 and calibrate the display properly. This would explain a "vivid colors" issue that you are seeing, if your display treats resolutions differently in terms of calibration. On my 768p plasms, 1080p over HDMI was the best option as the TV did a better job of scaling down from 1080 to 768 than it did up from 720 to 1080. Geometry Wars 2 was sharp as hell with the 360 set to 1080, but kinda blurry set to 720p. On my current 1080p native display, the 360 set to 1080p is the best setting as the 360 knows what the source is and therefore scales the best, whereas the display would apply much more generic scaling that would maybe try to do some stupid temporal integration.
So, set the 360 to spit out your displays' native resolution, load up THX Optimizer on one of the DVDs that you already own, and calibrate your display. Without the calibration step, your eyes can not be trusted as your display is lying to them.

The color issue is probably one of calibration but the main issue is that on my plasma 1024 x 768 looks far less sharp than 720p, like a thin layer of vaseline was smeared over the screen. Tested it with identical settings across both resolutions and had the same result. Would this be a calibration issue? I can only adjust contrast, brightness, color temp and HDMI black level when in 1024 x 768. Is this maybe an issue of HDMI vs VGA? The native resolution looks really bad through HDMI but 720p and 1080p look identical and are both sharper than native.
Edited by Boomerthom - 11/28/12 at 3:41pm
post #5 of 9
Look at your Sharpness setting in 720p mode. Crank it all the way down to zero and see if it looks similar to 1024x768 mode. I wouldn't be surprised if 1024x768 mode turns Sharpness off entirely, while you have artificial fake edge enhancement going on in 720p mode with Sharpness set to 50 or so.

Sharpness "off" is the correct way. While the initial impression is that it's blurrier, you'll notice over time that there is actually more detail present as fine details aren't burried in edge enhancement noise.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Sharpness is disabled in 1024 x 768. In 720p, adjusting the sharpness doesn't seem to have any effect either way. 0 sharpness in 720p still looks far sharper than native. Loaded up Halo 4 and Black Ops 2 in 1024 x 768 and they were blurry messes. Games looked much better with the system set to 720p.

Native doesn't give me many options to play with. Contrast, brightness, and color temp don't affect resolution. Along with HDMI black level, that's really all I can modify. Would really like to take some comparison pictures but my iPhone 3G camera doesn't capture enough detail.

I'm fine with leaving the Xbox in 720p but I'd just really like to know why the native resolution is so much blurrier than 720p - which has to be scaled by the TV to native when configured this way. I'm not kidding when I say native looks worse. Black Ops 2 runs sub-HD anyway and looks almost SD in 1024 x 768. Would there be any tricks my TV is performing when scaling the image? To reiterate, my 360 is hooked into a native 1024 x 768 plasma with HDMI.
post #7 of 9
Your display is simply broken in how it handles 1024x768 over HDMI then. smile.gif It's alright, as 720p is good enough. If you have a VGA port on it, and want to spend $5 on testing, then order up a third party Xbox 360 VGA cable from Monoprice. You will then probably see what native resolution on your display is supposed to look like.

The 32" 1366x768 Panasonic LCD in my bedroom behaves in similar fashion. Over VGA it chokes on 1366x768, and loses available resolution on the horizontal at 1024x768 (1280>1024) but works perfectly. It only recognizes 720p and 1080i over HDMI. I hit a point pretty quick were I said "720p is good enough. Done!"
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I don't think my plasma can handle a PC input from HDMI. I was fumbling around the options and tried setting the input to "PC" which I've never done before. There was an instant drop in clarity when the Xbox was set to 720p, and 720p on a PC input looked the same as 1024 x 768 on any input. 720p on a regular input it is, then. Thanks guys.
post #9 of 9
Interesting read.

The X360 selects 1366 x 768 if I use the "optimal resolution" setting. But I always go with 1080p, as it looks far better than optimal resolution. Especially when I'm sitting closer to the screen. So apparently the console wants to output a resolution which is just above 720p. And the TV's max resolution yields the best results at 1080p. It's a 40" LCD screen. I use 1:1 pixel mapping, no enhancements. Except the "Cinema Drive" option, which I'd hardly call an enhancement. It tends to smooth out juddery or choppy movement in 30 fps games and movies. But I don't know, leaving it on/off seems to have minimal effects. What I can tell you is it has no effect on input lag. No other motion enhancements available on this model.

So take home message: simply use the max resolution your TV has. We already know the 360's internet scaler is fantastic. If your TV's scaler is just as good, you should use the max resolution available, at 1:1 pixel mapping, without enhancements preferably. Zero sharpness. And adjust the color, brightness and contrast according to your liking. Play in a dark room, with the backlight set as low as possible, to have the best experience.
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