Microsoft first balked at the idea of including HDMI in it’s original Xbox 360. While Sony gave it’s gamers everything they needed for high definition gaming, you were stuck with either VGA or Component for your 360. I’ll admit, back then I didn’t care about HDMI either, that is until I ran out of component ports on my TV. Madcatz has come to the rescue with their Xbox 360 HDMI Conversion Kit.
The kit is surprisingly well put together. It comes with the converter and heavily shielded HDMI and optical cables. The kit retails for $89 which is seriously steep, but at least it comes with the cables.
The converter plugs into your Xbox 360 AV slot. On the converter are ports for HDMI and optical cables. Upon powering up your 360, your TV will recognize the HDMI right away. I tested the kit out on a 32″ Sony Bravia KDL-32SL130, which is surprisingly, 1080p capable.
The first test I did was 1080p gaming. I switched to 1080p mode without a hitch. I had to adjust the TV’s brightness because it was too bright. It was already set for extended blacks so I left that setting alone. Supposedly, the signal coming from the Xbox AV connecter is analog. So the conversion kit does an analog to digital conversion before the signal hits your TV. Some might say that there is degradation in the image quality because of the conversion, but I didn’t see any. It ran Assassin’s Creed in full 1080p without a hitch and it looked beautiful. I also tested out Super Puzzle Fighter HD and the Devil May Cry 4 demo. They both looked as gorgeous as HD gaming gets.
The next test was the DVD upconversion to 1080p. Now Madcatz claims in their press release that it does upconvert your DVD movies to 1080p. I tested 2 DVDs and the results were a 480p conversion, which is the same conversion you get with component cables. In fact, the Sony Bravia supports 1080p from the component cables. I can only assume that the analog to digital conversion isn’t converting the 480p signal at all. This is a downer for those that watch movies on their 360.
I like the fact that the 1080p games still maintain that beautifully sharp image through the HDMI. While it doesn’t upconvert your DVDs like it’s supposed to, it’s still a great solution for bringing HDMI to your old Xbox 360. Some however, would rather sell their 360 and buy one equipped with an HDMI port that actually does do the upconversion. Plus the $89 price point hurts the pocket. That’s worth 2 games right there. If you can afford the conversion kit, then you can afford to buy another 360. If you’re a budget gamer, I can’t see paying such a high price for this when you can use the money on games. Also, it may be too little and too late for Madcatz to capitalize on this. I think if this was released shortly after the 360, they would have made some good sales.