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Hello everyone. Sorry for the late response. As I posted before, I was at a 2-day offsite with no net access (or time to use it!). Trying to catch up with all the questions asked.


Xbox 360 Elite supports HDMI 1.2 profile. For audio, you can select DD, DTS (at 1.5 Mbps), and WMA-Pro (Microsoft high fidelity multi-channel codec supported in some AVRs such as Pioneer). Since it is not based on 1.3, it will not support output of DD+ or TrueHD (even if it did, mixing would have been turned off).


PCM output is available but only for 2-channels (not 5.1). Please, please, don't say you don't like this. There is nothing you are going to say which we don't know
. Our goal was to provide a digital connection for video which people wanted for some of their TVs. And of course, single cable A/V connection. So if having analog video bothered you before, you can now use digital. If you lacked component/VGA on your TV, you are in business with Xbox 360 Elite.


Keep in mind that the spring software update for HD DVD substantially improves audio fidelity. Per above, you now have a choice of no less than three output formats.


If you are keen on having 5.1 PCM output, I recommend purchasing the Toshiba A2 player which after the price drop, will be much cheaper than Elite.


Answering other questions, both Xbox 360 Elite and current Xbox 360 units will have a spring (console) update which adds support for different video levels for VGA output (7.5 IRE vs 0). And as someone mentioned, using this setting you should be able to use computer monitors in addition to TVs with resolutions all the way up to 1080p with high fidelity and no issues with HDCP handshaking. So for current users, I highly recommend trying this update with your VGA connection to see if it does the job for you. Note that this is a console update and will work for both games and of course, HD DVD. The HD DVD software update is separate from this (and will be available on both Xbox Live and xbox.com).


On output video format, Xbox 360 Elite will perform a handshake and select the appropriate RGB/YUV settings over HDMI. You cannot select it yourself.


The spring HD DVD software update will fix all the lip sync issues that have been reported/we know of.


There is no support for the WMV-HD disc format but of course, you can put WMV files on discs and Xbox 360 will play them.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caurus /forum/post/0


Question to Mircrosoft insiders:


Is your xbox team currently looking on the problems with the Children of Men HD DVD? Will the problems be fixed with the update that comes with the dynamic compression bugfix?

We are investigating this title. So far, it plays for some people so it may be hard to troubleshoot but we are after it....
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by benwaggoner /forum/post/0


My guess is that the 8 LSB are much more random than the high 16 bits, so they take more bits to encode losslessly.


Again suggesting that 24-bit lossless probably isn't quite as useful as many assume
.

Ben is right and our data matches the observation posted. Lossless compression relies on long "filters" which attempt to find patterns in audio which they can pair together to achieve efficiency (think of lining up all the "a"s , "b"s, etc. in this post together and then compressing their frequency). The more random the bits, the harder it is to find any patterns in them.


Fortunately, DolbyTHD like MLP before it, allows any bit resolution so one can for example, can dial in, 18, 19, or 20-bits of resolution and compress at that that depth unlike PCM which usually jumps in 4-bit increments. There is a tool which can analyze movie source and tell the operator what the true depth of the source is so that there is no guessing involved. The tool is not in use yet but when it comes to play, it should provide much more efficiency. Suffice it to say, if you a fan of "give me 24-bits or death," you don't want to know what it is saying about the resolution of the movies it has already run on
.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dahlsim /forum/post/0


Thanks for that update Amir. @Amir or @Ben or other hd-dvd insider:



The addition of video levels option for VGA is a significant update that I think MS should emphasize more in it's marketing. VGA offers upscaling of DVD's and in some cases slightly better PQ in general I've found. VGA makes the 360 HD ready for millions of PC monitors and many people own these monitors that don't even own HDTV's!


I've often asked 360 owners that don't yet have an hdtv do you have a computer monitor? If they have a newer widescreen style lcd it's even better. My queston is does MS have any intention of promoting and marketing it's advantage in supporting VGA more, esp. in light of this new update that should imporove the option for HDTV's with VGA?

Yes indeed. As I noted, HDMI is not necessary for most people. VGA is actually more flexible in that it has no copy protection and as you say it is supported on computer monitors which for gaming applications, is quite nice as many people like to use their consoles in bedroom and such. We have tried to get this message out but the other side keeps saying everyone needs HDMI (persumably to convince people to also go and buy a new TV/AVR). So we went ahead and provided that option too even though it doesn't provide a better picture experience for 99% of the people out there.

Quote:
Question 2, not to simply echo but to add weight to other posters question, why not release a black version hd-dvd addon drive?


It seems very shortsighted on MS part not to release a black hd-dvd addon drive to pair with elite. Just consider how much better it would look on show room floors in electronic retailers that might want to display the elite and addon the way many currently display the (black AV looking) PS3 with HDTV's.

It is just a matter of cost both for us and retailers. As soon as you have two colors, you have to then forecast the need for each type and if you make wrong guess, you wind up with too many of one, and not enough of the other. And of course retailers would not want to carry two version of something if one would do.


Fortunately, offering other colors is not difficult and if there is enough demand, I am sure our Xbox team would consider that feedback.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm /forum/post/0


...The more random the bits, the harder it is to find any patterns in them...

The tool is not in use yet but when it comes to play, it should provide much more efficiency. Suffice it to say, if you a fan of "give me 24-bits or death," you don't want to know what it is saying about the resolution of the movies it has already run on.

So it seems that once the bit depth starts reaching down to the levels where totaly random thermal and popcorn noise are starting to be a significant part of the encode then the compression efficiency of a lossless audio codec suffers greatly? Is the criteria for movie watching to give up on the "ambiance"
of this very low level noise and live with a 18 or 20 bit deep conversion depth to avoid needless waste of bitrate/space that could be better used for other things on the title?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobgpsr /forum/post/0


So it seems that once the bit depth starts reaching down to the levels where totaly random thermal and popcorn noise are starting to be a significant part of the encode then the compression efficiency of a lossless audio codec suffers greatly? Is the criteria for movie watching to give up on the "ambiance"
of this very low level noise and live with a 18 or 20 bit deep conversion depth to avoid needless waste of bitrate/space that could be better used for other things on the title?

"ambience" is not noise. Ambience is often the decaying resonances which still have patterns of the original signal and are compressable (think of a piano note going to silence). We would want to preserve these but since they are much easier to encode than noise, we can indeed do that.


I think you are saying this but to be clear, there is no reason to encode noise in the source when your player can just as nicely add it in by itself due to its inability to reproduce 24-bit signals.


But yes, we absolutely want to only pack what is necessary on disc, and use the rest for something else people can touch and feel.
 

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Thanks Amir for you answers to some of the Elite questions. I have actually sold my Premium XBOX and will be getting the Elite. The Hard Drive space I don't care about so much, but the HDMI is really cool. I have a unique reason for HDMI, my TV (Toshiba 51HX93) seems to have a problem with 1080i over component where there are interference like wavy lines. It seems to be any 1080i source. HDMI and DVI are unaffected. So it's a big deal for me. For the moment I have been using the XBOX at 720P and letting my TV upconvert. Its looks good with HD-DVDs but I feel it could look better.


I know you are going to get flack for HDMI on the Elite not offering 5.1 LPCM. I do understand your point though. You have provided 3 high quality audio options. There was a post I was reading on the avsforum the other day where someone had done a blind test with friends comparing the DTS Downconvert to the Analog Outs on the Toshiba HD-DVD. It seemed overall it was hard for the majority to notice a difference. I know you have said again and again Amir that DTS is quite good compared to PCM. So given the choice I think the DTS update will benefit more people way more than HDMI 5.1 LPCM. The problem is people are expecting it to be like a PS3. Which has some of this stuff. I think that's where the expectation came from. Your suggestion to get a stand alone player for this feature is right on. After all the XBOX is a game machine. Sorry for the long post, just a few quick questions:


1. Above you mentioned 3 audio options. DD, DTS and WMA Pro. Were you referring to HD-DVD, DVDs, XBOX Live Movies or games?


2. My TV has a DVI-HDCP connection. You mentioned the XBOX will autodetect the setting RGB etc. Will I have to worry about Black Crush going from HDMI-DVI? Similar to the problems I have heard with the Toshiba HD-DVD players.


3. I have been assuming the Elite will upscale DVDs over HDMI. Is this a fair assumption?


Thank you for all your insight Amir on this forum.


Teddy
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by benwaggoner /forum/post/0


When it comes to rumors, we can only comment with explicit studio permission.


But, as previously discussed, a film of that length and quality could get a great technical presentation on HD DVD. As a general matter, I'd be startled to see a BD get a longer edit, given HD DVD's proven capacity to handle very long content, and ability to use its capacity more efficiently via more advanced mandatory audio cdoecs.

So if there is a TrueHD or DTS HD MA stream on the BD version, wouldn't it be fair to say the BD version has the abiility to use it's capacity more efficiently than a comparable HD DVD version?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm /forum/post/0


As I stated previously, HD mandates both networking and storage. This in a nutshell, gives you another source of bandwidth. HD DVD allows up to 15 mbit/sec data rate coming from persistent storage because it does not incur any seeks to get to that data. This is above and beyond the bandwidth coming from the optical media. Given this, a much more elegant solution exists than stuffing everything on disc whether someone values it or not. You can put the core experience on the HD DVD, and leave the rest to be downloaded by the user to persistent storage. Given the fact that the video still comes on disc, you don't have long download times to deal with.

Does the HD-A1 include enough persistent storage for one TrueHD track at 1.4Mbps average for a 2 hour movie? If not, how about the other Toshiba players?
Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm /forum/post/0


You asked if I know of more titles than MI3 that do it, presumably implying that the capability is not there due to lack of titles. I don't know but then again, I am not a walking encyclopedia of 300 titles out there.
But I would not be surprised to hear it is the only one.

To clarify my question, I asked if any HD DVDs use seamless branching now and mentioned that the MI3 branching I saw was seamed (which is much easier than seamless branching) so it wouldn't erroneously be claimed as one with it.


--Darin
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm /forum/post/0


Since it is not based on 1.3, it will not support output of DD+ or TrueHD (even if it did, mixing would have been turned off).

Amir, I'm curious as to why mixing would have been turned off? Is this suggesting the 360 simply doesn't have the processing power to mix those audio streams on the fly? Or does this have something to do with the software being too time consuming/expensive to custom program?
 

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Amir,


Would 360 owners be able to get lossless sound when converting the advanced audio formats (dd+/truehd) to wma pro lossless via optical and/or hdmi?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm /forum/post/0


It is just a matter of cost both for us and retailers. As soon as you have two colors, you have to then forecast the need for each type and if you make wrong guess, you wind up with too many of one, and not enough of the other. And of course retailers would not want to carry two version of something if one would do.

Would this argument not also apply to the Elite for those who dont want HDMI? How about an initial run to guage interest? If as was stated in the press release the Elite is a permanent new SKU why not have the option to match it to a black addon?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm /forum/post/0


So for current users, I highly recommend trying this update with your VGA connection to see if it does the job for you. Note that this is a console update and will work for both games and of course, HD DVD. The HD DVD software update is separate from this (and will be available on both Xbox Live and xbox.com).


On output video format, Xbox 360 Elite will perform a handshake and select the appropriate RGB/YUV settings over HDMI. You cannot select it yourself.


The spring HD DVD software update will fix all the lip sync issues that have been reported/we know of.


There is no support for the WMV-HD disc format but of course, you can put WMV files on discs and Xbox 360 will play them.

Ok Amir, I won't tell you how dissapointed many of us are because you already know ;0)


Based on this info I will be waiting for the Spring update for the 360 as there really is no audio improvements here on the 360 elite if the Spring update allows conversion to DTS 1.5 via optical, is that correct or is 2.0 TrueHD possible over LPCM HDMI?


Does the 360 team feel that this elite effort is good enough to compete with the PS3's HD optical disc playback capabilities?


Would it have been a major redesign to allow 7.1 LPCM over HDMI and support the 1.3 profile? Was this an issue with processing power available, chipset, or just a business decision?


Is there an Xbox 360 Media AV version in the works that provides all the desired audio/video features?


Why is MS pushing customers to purchase stand alone players when most are asking for MS to make a comparable HD playback device like the PS3 that supports the best video and audio playback?


The remaining question I have is will the 360 Spring Update correct the VGA output for the Sony SXRD XBR2 RPTV's to allow correct output of 1080P? Can we finally get a confirmation on this? If you don't know I would prefer an answer to this, so I can close out the 3 cases I have with Xbox Support and consider purchasing a standalone (how I sneak a standalone into the AV rack is going to be hard...i was hoping the elite would be a quick swap with the 360...I could have easily claimed it was a new faceplate)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Haghighi /forum/post/0


So if there is a TrueHD or DTS HD MA stream on the BD version, wouldn't it be fair to say the BD version has the abiility to use it's capacity more efficiently than a comparable HD DVD version?

No, since neither lossless codec is mandatory or de-factor standard in BD players.


So even if a lossless track is included, lossy tracks must also be included.


For example, many BD discs include an AC-3 @ 640 and a PCM track, while a HD DVD version of that same title could include a 1.5 Mbps DD+ track for an equivalent or superior experience at less than 25% of the bitrate.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by efjay /forum/post/0


Would this argument not also apply to the Elite for those who dont want HDMI? How about an initial run to guage interest? If as was stated in the press release the Elite is a permanent new SKU why not have the option to match it to a black addon?

How about a direct buy option for a black HD DVD add-on from the MS store? Or perhaps a coupon with the Elite to Home Depot for a can of spray paint ;0)...it could work.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by benwaggoner /forum/post/0


No, since neither lossless codec is mandatory or de-factor standard in BD players.


So even if a lossless track is included, lossy tracks must also be included.


For example, many BD discs include an AC-3 @ 640 and a PCM track, while a HD DVD version of that same title could include a 1.5 Mbps DD+ track for an equivalent or superior experience at less than 25% of the bitrate.

They also have 20GB extra to work with correct? How much space would AC-3 @ 640 take?


Also on BD wouldn't the AC-3 stream be extracted from the core of the TrueHD stream?


If this is correct, is that not more efficient than including a AC-3 stream and TrueHD stream on HD DVD? (even though it's not necessary as players are required to decode but not output/transport the advanced codecs like the 360 and forthcoming 360 elite)..
 

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dear amirm,


great work on the xobx 360 hd dvd player and the 360 elite i will be purchasing a 360 elite very soon but i have three questions that i need to ask first.


1. will the spring dashboard update convert game audio to dts 1.5 if you select or will id remain DD


2.on the 360 elite will i be able to chose what resolution i run my 360 at over hdmi


3. i am mainly buying a 360 elite bc i have had some syncing issues with my current 360 running at 1080p over vga , will the spring dashboard update correct these problems?


thank you again
 

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Amir,


Would you please check with the Xbox team and let us know if the new Elite uses a quieter DVD drive? That's really the decision maker for me.


Thanks,

Robert.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meatpopsicle /forum/post/0


Amir, I'm curious as to why mixing would have been turned off? Is this suggesting the 360 simply doesn't have the processing power to mix those audio streams on the fly? Or does this have something to do with the software being too time consuming/expensive to custom program?

No, that was not a statement specific to Xbox. As you know, the interactivity audio is mixed over movie track. To do that, you must decode, mix and re-encode. I simply said that if anyone wants the native audio encodes on disc, they would have to give up on mixing in the player. This would reduce the work the player has to do, not the other way around. So there are no architectural issues here.


The bigger issue is causing return problems with the studios and more importantly, locking horns with the creative community. By turning off audio mixing, someone may return a disc because they forget they are in pass-through mode and wonder why none of the commentary, etc. has audio. And creative types may get upset that a player is bypassing the experience they intended for you to have. So while there is no law against bypassing the mixer, folks would have to think about these considerations.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Haghighi /forum/post/0


Based on this info I will be waiting for the Spring update for the 360 as there really is no audio improvements here on the 360 elite if the Spring update allows conversion to DTS 1.5 via optical, is that correct or is 2.0 TrueHD possible over LPCM HDMI?

I assume so since PCM 2-ch does work.

Quote:
Does the 360 team feel that this elite effort is good enough to compete with the PS3's HD optical disc playback capabilities?

For a gaming platform? Of course. How many people are there with HDMI receivers? Most people are not like us, buying new gear. I am on my third processor now, forced to move up once for DTS, and now HDMI (Anthem D2). Average person just doesn't upgrade the AVR. Indeed, when the Toshiba HD DVD player came out, I venture to guess that 95% of the people were using DTS output and still raving about audio.

Quote:
Would it have been a major redesign to allow 7.1 LPCM over HDMI and support the 1.3 profile? Was this an issue with processing power available, chipset, or just a business decision?

The 1.3 profile was not possible because we started the design before 1.3 was finalized and we did not have access to the on-going spec work there. 7.1 LPCM is a high rate audio signal and would require more circuit redesign than we wanted to have in this new addition. But at high level, this stuff is not too hard to do compared to all the other electronics in the box. And certainly not an issue of processing power. We are only talking about audio data paths being wide enough.

Quote:
Is there an Xbox 360 Media AV version in the works that provides all the desired audio/video features?

You know I can't comment on future products
.

Quote:
Why is MS pushing customers to purchase stand alone players when most are asking for MS to make a comparable HD playback device like the PS3 that supports the best video and audio playback?

We are not pushing people to buy stand-alone player. Xbox 360 (Elite or otherwise) provide a superb HD experience. But we simply don't want to say that we have built a replacement product for stand-alone, player. That was not our goal and if that is what people want, they should go and buy those players.


Recall that in HD DVD, the price of a stand-alone player is already well below that of our game console. The other guys are not so fortunate so if they want to create a mass market, they have to stuff everything in the console. So in some way, they didn't have much choice here. In addition, they are in the business of promoting new TVs and new AVRs with HDMI, we are not. If customers go and buy such equipment, we will support them, as we just showed with HDMI. But in advance of a market, we are not in as much hurry as they might be in.


Quote:
The remaining question I have is will the 360 Spring Update correct the VGA output for the Sony SXRD XBR2 RPTV's to allow correct output of 1080P? Can we finally get a confirmation on this? If you don't know I would prefer an answer to this, so I can close out the 3 cases I have with Xbox Support and consider purchasing a standalone (how I sneak a standalone into the AV rack is going to be hard...i was hoping the elite would be a quick swap with the 360...I could have easily claimed it was a new faceplate)

I don't personally know even though I realize this has been a pain point for some users. I personally pushed the team to invetigate this issue so I know it got worked on. The problem from what I recall was the timing signal and how different companies interpret them. If I find out more, I will report back.
 
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