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Frequently Asked Questions

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What do I need to use the Xbox's HDTV capability?

You need a HDTV-compatible television with Y/Pb/Pr component inputs and the HD A/V pack. Note that some non-HDTV television sets have component inputs and support 480p. These TVs are fine choices for playing today's 480p games, but will not be able to take advantage of 720p or 1080i resolutions.

Alternatively, you can connect the Xbox directly to a PC monitor. You will need the HD A/V pack and a component-to-vga converter. An S-Video or composite connection will not give you HDTV-type resolutions on a PC monitor.


How do I get my MP3s/WAVs/WMAs into the Xbox?

There are two ways to do this:

1.Use a CD burning program like Nero to burn the songs onto a regular audio CD, like you would for your car CD player. Your best bet will be to use a CD-RW disc, as the Xbox cannot read most CD-R discs. After you make the audio CD, put it in your Xbox and rip the songs off of it, following the instructions in your Xbox manual.

2.Purchase the Video to Audio Converter ( go here for details ) and transfer your files from your PC .


This is a rather confusing topic, so I'm going to give you the easy answer, then the hard one.

The easy answer:

1Does the TV automatically "squeeze" widescreen, or "anamorphic" DVD's down to 16:9 aspect ratio? Some Sony's do this. If you don't know, the answer is probably "no".

2When you play back DVD's, how do you prefer the picture? Note that some DVD's do not have a fullscreen version on them, so they will show in letterbox mode no matter what you select on your Xbox.

3Unless the TV is very small (and you want to use the entire screen whenever possible), there is no reason to select NORMAL on a 4:3 TV that supports anamorphic video. A "squeezed" picture always looks superior to normal full-screen or letterboxed video.

4This setting will also cause Xbox games that support 16:9 aspect to display in widescreen mode, just like an anamorphic DVD.

516:9 TV's should all support anamorphic DVD's and other widescreen content, like 16:9 Xbox games. The use of a High-Definition A/V pack is strongly recommended.

The hard answer:

Ignoring true HDTV (which is all 16:9 aspect), there are two types of video that can come out of your Xbox: 4:3 and 16:9. Which of these is sent, and how it is displayed on your TV, is dependent on three things: the type of game/DVD, the configuration of your TV, and the NORMAL/LETTERBOX/WIDESCREEN setting of the Xbox.

The type of game/DVD.
Some games, like Dead or Alive 3, support a "widescreen" or 16:9 aspect ratio output signal. In addition, some DVD's also support a true 16:9 output signal, often called "anamorphic" or "enhanced for widescreen". For ease of discussion, I am going to refer to both games that support 16:9 and anamorphic DVD's as "widescreen discs".

All Xbox games and some DVD's also support 4:3 output display. In the case of Xbox games, the Xbox simply constrains the game to a 640x480 square-pixel area, just like on your computer monitor. In the case of DVD's, for which the original film is almost always in 16:9, the most common way to get a 4:3 playback is by a method called "pan and scan", where you actually look through a 4:3 "window" into the original 16:9 movie, with this window moving back and forth (panning) to follow the action. On older movies especially, the effect is quite noticeable. In some cases, the pan and scan version of the film is stored directly on the DVD. In other cases, the DVD player itself builds the pan and scan window based on cues encoded onto the DVD. Regardless of the method used, you never see the entire original film image - you're always seeing only the part in the 4:3 "window". Note that not all DVD's support pan and scan, forcing you to watch in letterbox mode (see below). For ease of discussion, I am going to refer to pan-and-scan DVD's and 4:3 games as "normal discs".

There is one more type of disc that concerns DVD's only - the "letterbox" disc. These discs have a version of the film that looks like a widescreen film, but in reality is just painting black bars on the top and bottom of the picture. That is, of the 480 lines available on a TV set, 120 of them (60 at the top and 60 at the bottom) are just black. This leaves only 360 lines in the middle of the TV in which to show the actual DVD content. Obviously, this reduces picture quality. Although it may look like a "widescreen" display, technically it is not. With a true widescreen presentation, the TV actually fits all 480 lines of resolution down into a 16:9 area. On 4:3 TV's this is called an "anamorphic squeeze", and is rarely supported. All 16:9 televisions do support this display type, which is why they are excellent for DVD playback. I will use the term "letterbox discs" to refer to DVD's which have a letterbox presentation (where part of the picture is actually the black bars), but NOT a true widescreen or "anamorphic" presentation (where the entire picture needs to be squeezed down by the TV).

The configuration of your TV.
If you have a regular plain-Jane 4:3 TV, then configuration really isn't an issue. Every input type is going to fill the entire screen, though in the case of letterbox discs (the DVD's with built-in black bars), it will look "widescreen", only with lowered picture quality.

If you are lucky enough to have a 4:3 TV that supports an anamorphic or widescreen signal (sometimes called ID1 or WSS), then you need to tell the TV to automatically "squeeze" incoming widescreen down to 16:9. This will put all 480 lines of resolution from widescreen discs (16:9 Xbox games or "anamorphic" DVD's) into a 16:9 aspect area in the middle of your screen. You'll see black bars just like with a letterbox disc, but those black bars will actually have no signal - that is, they aren't wasted space; the entire picture is crammed into the central area. You get much better picture quality with a TV like this.

If you have a 16:9 TV, then you have some decisions to make regarding normal discs (Xbox games that only support 4:3, or DVD's with only a pan-and scan version). Since your TV is already widescreen, it will handle widescreen content just fine, but normal 4:3 content needs some special handling - either black/grey bars on the right and left (called "windowboxing") or some sort of zoom/stretch, where the TV morphs the 4:3 image to fit the 16:9 screen. Refer to your TV's manual for info on various windowboxing/zoom/stretch modes.

Xbox Settings.
The final part to this whole mess is the NORMAL/LETTERBOX/WIDESCREEN setting of the Xbox. Note that these settings are very similar to what you will find on most DVD players. The difference with the Xbox is that games as well as DVD's are affected by what you select.

NORMAL Mode: This tells the Xbox that you have a 4:3 TV without anamorphic (the 16:9 "squeeze") support. All Xbox games will use their normal 4:3 presentation, and DVD's will either be full-screen (pan and scan) or letterbox, if that is all the DVD supports.

LETTERBOX Mode: For Xbox games, this is no different from NORMAL - the games will use their regular 4:3 presentation. For DVD's, however, this setting will cause the DVD to use its letterbox presentation even if it supports pan and scan. If the DVD supports a letterbox format, you will see the black bars on top and bottom, and you will lose those 120 lines of resolution being used for them.

WIDESCREEN Mode: For Xbox games which support 16:9 and for DVD's labeled "anamorphic" or "enhanced for widescreen TV's", this setting triggers their 16:9 presentation. If your TV doesn't support 16:9 video, the symptom you should see is very tall and skinny on-screen objects. This happens because the 16:9 image is being squished horizontally to fit your 4:3 TV. For 4:3 televisions, you should only select WIDESCREEN if your TV supports 16:9 video. For 16:9 televisions, you should always choose WIDESCREEN (with very few exceptions).