For starters, the 360 Elite will only support the HDMI 1.2 specification, as opposed to 1.3, which is the latest and greatest (and ships with the PS3). 1.3 adds support for the transmission of Dolby TrueHD, which is a lossless multi-channel audio (PCM) format being used on top-end HD-DVD discs.
In a forum post, Microsoft techie Amir Majidimehr suggests that "If you are keen on having 5.1 PCM output, I recommend purchasing the Toshiba A2 player which after the price drop, will be much cheaper than Elite," which we suspect isn't quite the company line.
Additionally, when using HDMI the resolution on the 360 will be forced to 1080p, regardless of the display resolution of the device it is actually being connected to, which could result in unnecessary image downscaling or, at worst, lack of picture.
However, that's not all the interesting Elite gossip. Whilst the decision not to include an HD-DVD drive in the unit has annoyed some, Microsoft seems to be suggesting that its because a Blu-ray add-on unit could be made available for the console at a later date. In an interview with GamesIndustry, Europe boss Neil Thompson suggests that when it comes to movies, "Im not sure the market has moved to high definition yet... And if and when it does, then the way that we've constructed the offering we've made means we'll be able to go whichever way we want."
Is that a hint at an add-on Blu-ray player, should Sony's proprietary format win the HD war?
The market for HD movies is in a precarious position at the moment, and whilst Sony would like to think that the PS3 is a great trojan horse for Blu-ray, world wide sales don't yet give credence to that argument. Microsoft seems to be hedging its bets, but the so-so hardware upgrade for the Elite isn't really helping its cause. µ
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