Report: Xbox Dashboard update cuts down video quality

Microsoft's Dashboard update for the Xbox 360 console was launched worldwide earlier in December. Now there are reports from users that the update has caused the video playback quality of the console to actually become worse. Eurogamer's Digital Foundry division has looked into the reports and posted up word that, in its opinion, the reports are justified.

In order to test their hypothesis, Digital Foundry took a number of game screenshots and encoded them into a WMV file. The video was then run on an Xbox 360 with the Dashboard update and one which had not had the update installed. According to the article seeing the screenshots in motion makes it clear that there is something wrong.

The article states:

The washed-out nature of the colour does indeed suggest that limited range RGB is kicking in, and while in most cases the effects could be seen as minor, the fact is that video compression artifacts are considerably more noticeable due to the error in decoding: macroblocking that would be otherwise be less apparent within darker colours is now more readily visible.

The issues with the Xbox 360's video playback seem to occur with both the component video connections and the HDMI-based video port of the Xbox 360 console. So far Microsoft has not even acknowledged that there is an issue with the video playback nor is there any word on plans for a software update to fix the issue.

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19 Comments

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isnt full range RGB a feature that TVs have to support (and the user has to enable) in order for it to work?

in the PS3 you have to enable it, and then your display has to support it over HDMI otherwise you will notice a difference

My experience improved, the HD netflix content with 5.1 video hasn't looked or sounded better. Perhaps MS updated EDID detection and some peoples displays are now miscalibrated and need manual setup? i dunno..

Hulu performance seems to have diminished a little quality wise, but that seems to be ATT uverse issues, not xbox as i have ths ame issues with hulu on desktop.

I can report i see no visible difference on any of my games or video when playing over hdmi on my 40" Samsung 1080p LCD.

I have seen previous mentions to the reference level issues. Adjusting these reference levels didnt appear to make any difference to the picture at all. (Maybe it affects specific model TV's??).

Everything looks pin sharp, as it did on the previous dash release.

Perhaps someone's just trolling

Sicarius123 said,
Possibly a sly move on Microsofts part to make their compressed streaming Zune video's look better in comparison?

I don't think so. My wife and I watched the Haven and Warehouse 13 Christmas specials downloaded from Zune and I noticed quite a few compression artifacts than before the update. It was most noticeable in dark areas of the screen when two dark colors were present, e.g. red on black. Now that I think about it, I'll watch the same Zune videos via the Zune Client on our HTPC. That should be an effect test.

Haven't noticed any difference myself, that's not to say it isn't there mind you, so long as i continue to not notice then it has no effect on my enjoyment.

All I had to do was change a setting in the Reference and it fixed it. Now everything looks like it should. I'm wondering if these people even know that setting is there.

Edit: Looking at the screenshots there definitely is something wrong. Wish I could make a comparison myself, though.

Edited by , Dec 19 2011, 4:34am :

xiphi said,
All I had to do was change a setting in the Reference and it fixed it. Now everything looks like it should. I'm wondering if these people even know that setting is there. <snip>

What is this Reference of which you speak?

LandGator said,

What is this Reference of which you speak?

I thought that was only a HDMI option but yes after reading the article I thought that's what the problem was. Haven't updated dash so can't tell yet

I have watched DVDs, Netflix, and Hulu and nothing looks different to me and my TV is calibrated I have a 360s via/ HDMI 720p on a 37" Plasma.

And have you all put it to the test or just saying you cant notice? Hope they fix it. I thought some of my movies looked like crap.

sweetleaf said,
And have you all put it to the test or just saying you cant notice? Hope they fix it. I thought some of my movies looked like crap.

Isn't looking at videos and or playing games you've played on the older dash, not noticing a difference, basically putting it to the test?

If no one noticed something this wouldn't have come up.

NoLiMiT06 said,
I haven't noticed anything different since I got the update back in November.

I don't think most people will notice the difference unless it affects part of the game. Like the source shows in the screenshots, the textures look washed out almost like you're being blinded by them, in perticular the sand on the banks.

Now, what I'd like to see is side by side comparison of the new xbox dash update and that of the PS3. I know before now there have been issues with the two and apparent games that should be the same looking slightly different in colours and shades. Maybe the xbox team has updated the dash to give games a more unified feel after protests from developers ?.. maybe...