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Default Do you know about Xbox 360, LCD monitors and TVs, HDMI and VGA? Could you help me?

June 9th, 2009, 10:15
Hi everyone. I have a bit of a dilemma that I need some advice with (I've placed questions like this on tech help and hardware boards but no one ever replies to me, so I'm trying here).

I currently use my 360 on a Philips 19" CRT monitor, connected with the official 360 VGA cable. All things considered I think it works reasonably well. But the three things I don't like are the low resolution (I can only play at 1280 x 1024) so I get quite jagged edges, the letterboxing of most games and the fact that either the monitor or the cable make games quite dark. So I'm looking to upgrade to a nice LCD to play on, to use exclusively with the 360, mainly games but maybe DVDs too.

Since I'd prefer a smaller screen, I figued I'd save money and get a good LCD monitor as apposed to a mid to low range TV. Is that a good idea?

The problem I'm having with a monitor is how best to connect it. With the VGA cable you can select a resolution on the 360, and as I understand it's important to select your monitor's native resolution to avoid scaling issues (like jagged edges, screen distortion and letterboxing). But I hear HDMI is superior. So which would be better? If the monitor in question was 1920 x 1080 full HD and I used HDMI to connect it, would I simply be able to select 1080p and avoid scaling issues altogether?

I've narrowed my extensive search down to two monitors: the Samsung 2233SW and the Viewsonic VX2433WM. Both have similar specs and are full HD 1920 x 1080, but the Viewsonic is a TN panel and I heard they don't look as good as others because they sacrifice picture quality for response time. Is that true?

But the Viewsonic has HDMI and the Samsung does not. If I wanted to use HDMI with the Samsung I'd have to use an HDMI to DVI converter. My question there is will that work? Are they compatible (the official 360 HDMI cable has a seperate cable for audio which is how I intend to get my sound)?

Or I could go for an LCD television. Since I perfer a smaller display I'd go for something around 22" to 24". There isn't much of a choice in my neck of the woods (New Zealand), and the models I've been looking at (Samsung, Sony, Panasonic) would be about twice the price of the monitors above. They also come in two resolutions. 1360 x 768, and 1680 x 1050. Which would be better? Would 1360 x 768 be better because that's HD 720p?

If anyone has any advice, tips or would like to share their experiences with this sort of thing I'd be very grateful. I've been debating these issues back and forth for months and still can't make a decision for fear that I'll buy something and realise I've made the wrong choice. What would help is if people in the know assured me I was getting the best performance for the price.

Thank you very much indeed.
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June 9th, 2009, 13:04
Originally Posted by human_male View Post
Since I'd prefer a smaller screen, I figued I'd save money and get a good LCD monitor as apposed to a mid to low range TV. Is that a good idea?
Yes.

The problem I'm having with a monitor is how best to connect it. With the VGA cable you can select a resolution on the 360, and as I understand it's important to select your monitor's native resolution to avoid scaling issues (like jagged edges, screen distortion and letterboxing). But I hear HDMI is superior. So which would be better? If the monitor in question was 1920 x 1080 full HD and I used HDMI to connect it, would I simply be able to select 1080p and avoid scaling issues altogether?
Technically, HDMI is better. In practice, you won't be able to see a difference between that and a good-quality VGA cable on a properly (auto-)adjusted monitor and good-quality VGA output. If the VGA output, connector, or cable aren't good quality, though, you will see problems.

Yes, 1080p on a 1920 x 1080 full HD panel will have no scaling. However, the XBox 360 doesn't actually render games at that resolution: they'll be scaled up from whatever resolution it does render them. This scaling may or may not be better quality than what the monitor can do internally. IOW, it won't be perfect in either case, and it may not even look dramatically better than what you're seeing now.

I've narrowed my extensive search down to two monitors: the Samsung 2233SW and the Viewsonic VX2433WM. Both have similar specs and are full HD 1920 x 1080, but the Viewsonic is a TN panel and I heard they don't look as good as others because they sacrifice picture quality for response time. Is that true?
There are always trade-offs. Response time is more important for games. However, nowadays the quality is what I'd call "good enough" even in monitors optimized for speed.

But the Viewsonic has HDMI and the Samsung does not. If I wanted to use HDMI with the Samsung I'd have to use an HDMI to DVI converter. My question there is will that work? Are they compatible (the official 360 HDMI cable has a seperate cable for audio which is how I intend to get my sound)?
HDMI to DVI is not always compatible. It's that way by design.

Or I could go for an LCD television. Since I perfer a smaller display I'd go for something around 22" to 24". There isn't much of a choice in my neck of the woods (New Zealand), and the models I've been looking at (Samsung, Sony, Panasonic) would be about twice the price of the monitors above. They also come in two resolutions. 1360 x 768, and 1680 x 1050. Which would be better? Would 1360 x 768 be better because that's HD 720p?
Doesn't make much difference in practice.
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June 9th, 2009, 13:31
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Yes, 1080p on a 1920 x 1080 full HD panel will have no scaling. However, the XBox 360 doesn't actually render games at that resolution: they'll be scaled up from whatever resolution it does render them. This scaling may or may not be better quality than what the monitor can do internally. IOW, it won't be perfect in either case, and it may not even look dramatically better than what you're seeing now.
Well that's a blow. Is there any point getting a full HD monitor then, would a lower resolution be better? What does one have to do to completely prevent scaling?

If I bought this expensive monitor I'm looking at and it turnes it it looks just as jaggy as playing at 1280 x 1024… I certainly won't be happy.

Thanks very much for your reply. 'Tis appreciated.
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June 9th, 2009, 15:33
Originally Posted by human_male View Post
Well that's a blow. Is there any point getting a full HD monitor then, would a lower resolution be better? What does one have to do to completely prevent scaling?
You can't. Different games render at different resolutions; you will find yourself scaling at least some of the time — either in the XBox or in the monitor/TV.

(TV's often have better scaling chips than monitors, so you might get a better result with one.)
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June 10th, 2009, 00:10
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
You can't. Different games render at different resolutions; you will find yourself scaling at least some of the time — either in the XBox or in the monitor/TV.

(TV's often have better scaling chips than monitors, so you might get a better result with one.)
This really blows my mind. I assumed that if the 360 was outputting in the same resolution as the monitor's native resolution I'd be sweet.

I had assumed the jaggies I notice playing games was because I play at 1280 x 1024. When playing Fallout 3 (which looks pretty good despite everything) I see quite pronounced jaggies on the side of people's faces and on weapons when I'm looking at them in first person. I just tried upping the resolution on the 360 to 1440 x 900. The aspect ratio was all off, but I thought it would at least give me an idea of what I oculd expect from a new monitor with higher res. Imagime my surprise when I saw that the jaggies were still there. Not as pronounced on the faces, but just as pronounced on the weapons.

So now I really don't know what to do. I don't know if it's even worth spending all that money on a new monitor if it's not going to be the improvement I'd hoped.

The other issue I have with the monitor, the fact that most games appear quite dark, is probably due to the VGA cable. I think the official one is high quality because other than the darkness the picture looks quite good. But if I did get a new monitor I'd still be stuck with VGA, so most games would probably be still too dark. It's actually only a problem with games that don't have ingame brightness control like Mass Effect. And if I set the display to Multimedia (you know the button on the fron of CRTs that allow you to select Text, Internet, Game, Multimedia) it looks pretty good. Fallout 3 actually looks very good. But if I'm going to spend all that money I don't want to be stuck with the same issues I'm having with the monitor I already have.

Would it make more sense to buy a less expensive, basic monitor rather than an expensive full HD one?

Edit: On the features listed on the Viewsonic monitor I mentioned it says "Aspect ratio adjustment ensures your images are never distorted regardless of signal source." Is it talking about scaling? Would something like that actually work?

Thanks again.
Last edited by human_male; June 10th, 2009 at 00:41.
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June 10th, 2009, 14:34
Originally Posted by human_male View Post
This really blows my mind. I assumed that if the 360 was outputting in the same resolution as the monitor's native resolution I'd be sweet.
Only high-end PC video cards are able to output native 1080p at decent frame rates for current games. The XBox 360 doesn't have that kind of horsepower.

So now I really don't know what to do. I don't know if it's even worth spending all that money on a new monitor if it's not going to be the improvement I'd hoped.
Indeed. Is there anyplace you could try before you buy, or that has a liberal returns policy?

The other issue I have with the monitor, the fact that most games appear quite dark, is probably due to the VGA cable. I think the official one is high quality because other than the darkness the picture looks quite good. But if I did get a new monitor I'd still be stuck with VGA, so most games would probably be still too dark.
Nope, the cable won't affect brightness (gamma). Some monitors allow you to adjust gamma on the monitor control panel; otherwise it has to be adjusted at the input. I don't have an XBox so I don't know if, and how, it lets you do this.

Would it make more sense to buy a less expensive, basic monitor rather than an expensive full HD one?
Probably not.

Edit: On the features listed on the Viewsonic monitor I mentioned it says "Aspect ratio adjustment ensures your images are never distorted regardless of signal source." Is it talking about scaling? Would something like that actually work?
Either scaling or cropping. Some TV's do it rather smartly; they leave the center of the picture unscaled, but stretch it at the edges to fit. Maybe the monitor does something like it. It does work rather well for stuff like movies and TV; better than linear scaling anyway.
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June 10th, 2009, 14:39
I found a list of the rendering resolutions for many XBox 360 games here: [ http://forum.beyond3d.com/showpost.p…44&postcount=3 ].

You'll find that 720p (1280 x 720) is the most common by far, and only a very few (a couple of sports games and Sacred 2) do 1020p (1920 x 1020). Fallout 3 is 720p, so you won't see any difference in jaggies with a higher-resolution monitor than the one you have.

So, the only thing a new (widescreen) monitor could do is get rid of letterboxing, and (if it has hardware gamma controls) your darkness problem. It won't do anything for your jaggies, except for the handful of games that do 1080p.
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June 10th, 2009, 14:40
If you can buy your TV/monitor at costco, you should. They have way, way, way good prices and their return policy is such that if you took a hammer to the screen within 90 days they'd replace it, pretty much.

They stand by their products and are the best place to buy anything!
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June 10th, 2009, 16:40
If you wanna go budget get a 32" 720p HDTV.

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June 10th, 2009, 18:14
My friend just bought a 32" 1080p tv that's 120hz for 600 at costco. Dunno what your price range is, but thatg's pretty good.
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June 11th, 2009, 03:44
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
If you can buy your TV/monitor at costco, you should. They have way, way, way good prices and their return policy is such that if you took a hammer to the screen within 90 days they'd replace it, pretty much.

They stand by their products and are the best place to buy anything!
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post

Indeed. Is there anyplace you could try before you buy, or that has a liberal returns policy?
I live in New Zealand actually. I believe Costco is on it's way here but I don't think there are any stores open yet.

There are a couple of places nearby that have what we call a "change of mind" policy, and over here you have to check that because unlike the US some places don't allow it. The chain consumer electronics places that you usually find shoulder to shoulder in shopping centers and things do, but they tend to have the smallest range. The dedicated computer stores, particularly the online stores have better range but either charge a high restocking fee or won't allow change of mind returns at all. One place won't even take back damaged or faulty goods unless you return it in three days, which I'm not sure is actually legal as we have something called the consumer protection act. But anyway.

I visited a couple of stores today that do in fact have change of mind policies. One is two weeks which is excellent. I looked at some tvs and was lucky enough to talk to some sales guys who seemed quite knowledgeable. They both reiterrated what you mentioned, Prime, that there's no point going full HD because the 360 can't support it. They recommended 720p/1080i. I think a tv might be the way to go after all.

They had one on sale called a Konka (I've never heard of them either) KL22CS62Q, HD ready, 22" 1366 x 768. It's on special at the moment and in my price range. I watched a bit of a DVD and the picture looked fine. As I understand 1366 x 768 is still HD 720p/1080i, is that correct? I don't know whether I'd still get scaling issues with this. I've tried to find reviews online but I can't find anything so I don't know if this brand is any good or what kind of reputation it has. Have you guys heard of them? http://www.laurenson1.co.nz/shop/sho….php?prod=6708 I think I'll try this one and if I'm not happy I can return it, which is a huge load off my mind.

The next one up is the Sony 19" Bravia KLV-19T400. Again the picture looks ok and I go with Sony for most of my other electronics, it's more expensive but still in my range. But again I can't find any reviews on it so I wonder what you guys thought of these two. It's 1680 x 1050. I'm still a little fuzzy on the whole HD/full HD thing but 1680 x 1050 and 1366 x 768 are both considered HD, 720p/1080i, right? I'm not sure which resolution would look better or which would avoid scaling issues better.

If I was to go with a monitor after all, I can get a Samsung 933BW 19" at a pretty good price, but I can't have a look at it first or return it, so I'm leaning toward the TVs at the moment.

I also just wanted to say how much I appreciate the input. I've asked these questions on a couple of tech forums and its here, on a RPG forum that I've recieved the most help. Most just ignore my questions altogether. So thank you. It's appreciated.

Please keep responding if you can think of anything else that might be helpful, especially on the models I mentioned.

Cheers.
Last edited by human_male; June 11th, 2009 at 04:16.
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June 11th, 2009, 12:12
[QUOTE=human_male;1060953627]They had one on sale called a Konka (I've never heard of them either) KL22CS62Q, HD ready, 22" 1366 x 768. It's on special at the moment and in my price range. I watched a bit of a DVD and the picture looked fine. As I understand 1366 x 768 is still HD 720p/1080i, is that correct?

It's bigger than 720p and smaller than 1080(i or p); the former will be upscaled, the latter will be downscaled. The quality of the resulting picture depends on the electronics in the TV. With "no-name" brands this can vary between abysmally bad and identical to "big-name" brands; there's no way to know without testing.

I'd be inclined to avoid the Konka and go with a bigger brand instead. Samsung and Sony are both good; as stated, TV's generally scale better.
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June 13th, 2009, 00:23
Thanks again Prime.

Ok, so here's the inescapable question. According to everything I've learned while researching this in the last few days, the best resolution to play on would be 1280 x 720, which is exact, proper 720p. That's what most of the games are made with.

Why is that, when the most common native resolution of todays LCD tvs (in 16:9) are 1366 x 768?

I've tried to find some models with 1280 x 720 but they seem to be ancient things with 23ms response times. Have you heard of a modern display, either a TV or monitor with this resolution that would be suitable for games (resonable response time ect)? Or are they considered obsolete?

So I'm kinda back to square one. I think I'm chasing a dragon here. I'm chasing something I'm never going to catch. I'll just get something with a brand name in my price range and leave it at that. But now I'm back to the old monitor or tv debate? And around and around I go.
Last edited by human_male; June 14th, 2009 at 04:21.
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June 14th, 2009, 09:25
First off, if the scaling algorithm is any good at all, 720p scaled up to 1366 x 768 will look very good. (FWIW, I have a 1080p monitor, but my video card is rarely up to the challenge, which means I often play games at around 720p resolution on it, and it also looks pretty good.)

So, I think that one your main problems — the jaggies — is due to the limitations of the XBox, and nothing you can do with your monitor will fix that. Another problem — the letterboxing — is due to the shape of your current monitor. Any widescreen monitor or TV will fix that.

So, my advice? If this is mainly/only for games, buy a small LCD TV with an HDMI input from a respectable manufacturer. That's what the XBox is primarily designed to work on, it's bright, it's optimized to handle motion, it will scale things as needed very well, including anamorphic scaling which monitors rarely do, and it's plug-and-play.
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June 15th, 2009, 02:21
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
First off, if the scaling algorithm is any good at all, 720p scaled up to 1366 x 768 will look very good. (FWIW, I have a 1080p monitor, but my video card is rarely up to the challenge, which means I often play games at around 720p resolution on it, and it also looks pretty good.)

So, I think that one your main problems — the jaggies — is due to the limitations of the XBox, and nothing you can do with your monitor will fix that. Another problem — the letterboxing — is due to the shape of your current monitor. Any widescreen monitor or TV will fix that.

So, my advice? If this is mainly/only for games, buy a small LCD TV with an HDMI input from a respectable manufacturer. That's what the XBox is primarily designed to work on, it's bright, it's optimized to handle motion, it will scale things as needed very well, including anamorphic scaling which monitors rarely do, and it's plug-and-play.
That's good advice. Once again, thanks.

I've actually found something I think I'll like. The Sony Bravia 26" KLV-26T400A. http://www.sony.co.in/product/klv-26t400a

It's a little bigger and costs a bit more than I wanted to pay but I think I'd be happier with it than anything else. I trust Sony more than any other brand, and it looked pretty sweet in the store. The only thing is I can't find out the response time.

But I actually already ordered a little monitor, a Samsung 933bw in the hopes it would be adequate and I wouldn't need to buy a tv. But after seeing this one I think I made a mistake and should have just got the Sony. I can't return the monitor but I can sell it I think. I'll take a hit but hopefully not too much.

I'm actually thinking about phoning the store and asking them to cancel the order. But then I'll never know if the monitor would have sufficed. I'm crippled by indecision once again. Grrrrrr! What to do?

Anyway, thanks again. You've been a big help. Even just having someone to discuss this with was a help. When I think of all the tech and consumer products forums that I asked questions on and they completely ignored me. So thanks.
Last edited by human_male; June 15th, 2009 at 02:34.
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