No HDMI for Xbox 360 HD DVD Add-On?

Posted Tue Sep 19, 2006 at 09:15 PM PDT by
Microsoft has unveiled the first detailed look at its highly-anticipated HD DVD add-on drive the Xbox 360 console, but those looking for the best in high-def video and audio quality may be out of luck.

At least, that's according to, who have posted new online pics that give a close-up of the device's front and back casing, including its A/V connections:

Surprisingly, Microsoft has decided to forgo any HDMI connections on the HD DVD peripheral, instead opting for component outs and two USB ports. Which is unfortunate, as HDMI is currently the only way to ensure that the interface will be capable of transmitting uncompromised video streams and the full resolution the high-def format is capable of. Though no HD DVD-supporting studios have yet to engage the dreaded Image Constraint Token (ICT) on their next-gen discs -- which in the name of copy protection would down-res video quality to standard-def levels via any output other than HDMI -- they very well could at any time in the foreseeable future.

When IGN pressed Microsoft on the issue of why no HDMI on the Xbox 360 add-on, they received this response via email:

The image constraint token feature of AACS is an optional flag for the [motion picture] studios and several have publicly stated they have no plans to invoke [the copy-protection flags]. Therefore, the copy protection scheme is fully implemented in both HD DVD and Blu-ray today.

We [Microsoft Corporation] do not see the absence of HDMI/HDCP as an issue over the lifetime of this generation of [the X360] console. HDMI/HDCP is still a very new interface and until it is supported broadly across the CE and PC industries and by consumers on a wide enough scale to be considered a standard, we don't expect anyone to impede content flow over non-HDMI devices (re: invoke the ICT).

We can only hope Microsoft changes their tune, and soon -- the lack of HDMI support on any XBox 360 HD DVD peripheral just doesn't make much sense, considering that the main purpose of such a device is to deliver the highest-quality high-def possible. Of course, we won't know for sure what the outputs are until we actually get our hands on a final consumer version of the unit, so we'll remain optimistic. Stay tuned...

Thanks to Michael for the tip!

Tags: Microsoft, Xbox 360, High-Def Gaming (all tags)