If you've been surfing the game sites across the 'net in the last few days, no doubt you've heard the rumors that pictures and video of a prototype Xbox 360 with a built in HDMI port have been leaked. We'll go into what I think of those rumors for a moment, but before I do that, I feel the need to state something for the record for those who aren't aware... The Xbox 360 is already capable of displaying games and movies at 1080p. Should this "v2" Xbox 360 be real, the only true difference would come to those who would either like to free up a slot on their TV or receiver by using the HDMI port or those with the add-on HD-DVD player who would be affected by the restrictions in movie resolution should the upcoming HDCP protection scheme be implemented on HD-DVD movies. In other words, if you have no plans on buying the HD-DVD drive, the only thing you would really be losing out on is a connection option.
Let me also take a moment to say that I'm in no way saying this is a hoax or a fake - I don't have enough information to go on - I'm just saying something smells fishy here. If I had to bet on it, I'd bet that this is a modded 360 that's been turned into a hoax. It should also be noted that this isn't the first time a HDMI port has been reported as appearing on a 360 motherboard.
That said, let's take a look at the evidence that's being presented on the internet. From what I've seen, there are two pictures and one video floating around. We'll start with the pictures that have been seen at Xbox-scene and Engadget.
Now then, unless by some coincidence two different prototypes were leaked at the same time, something fishy is going on here. Here are some things to note;
- In picture two the supposed prototype has a almost completely smooth back - and while the "I/O" marking is still on the right, the "V/O" marking that’s above the vid ports on a normal 360 are missing - if MS was going to go through the trouble of putting the I/O marking on, why wouldn't the do the same for the video port?
- There are other markings on the first picture that don't exist on the second - some lines around the changed port, a few dents and some weird mark to the right of the rear USB port - those suddenly vanish in the second "cleaner pic"
- That second picture just looks a little too smooth. If I had to guess, I'd say that's a third party case - it's just a little too barren.
- If you look very closely, the HDMI port doesn't seem to sit cleanly in place. (and if you look at the larger picture over at Xbox-Scene, you'll see it's scuffed to all hell too)
Looking at those differences, I can come to only two conclusions;
- These are 2 different prototypes. .
- Some Photoshop work has been done to combine a picture of an original Xbox 360 case and a modified Xbox 360 case. In other words, the first picture was originally one of the rear of a normal 360 that had parts of the second image (a modded Xbox 360) photoshopped onto it - it would explain why the picture is so dark. (To hide any obvious photoshop marks)
Xbox-Scene also has a few motherboard and chip shots, but I won't go to deep into them as they could easily be just a mock-up or photoshopped.
However, this doesn't explain away the video Xbox-Scene managed to get their hands on. Here's a look at that video;
While I'd be tempted to call the above video proof of something, there are some inconsistencies here too. The video starts off by showing someone inserting a HDMI/DVI adapter into the new HDMI port on the 360. They then connect a DVI cable to that adapter and run it to a DVI port on their TV. They make sure to show you that the cable running from the 360 is connected to the TV and that there are no other video devices connected to the TV. However, when they pan away from the TV, it goes completely off the screen - meaning that anything could have happened to that TV during that time. It should be noted the 360 in the video appears to be the one in image #2. Here are some things to consider;
- Some TV's have inputs in different areas, so there's always a chance that there are other inputs on that TV with an Xbox 360 connected to it.
- When the TV goes off-screen after the initial "proof" shots, who's to say that another normal Xbox wasn't connected to the television to provide for the 360 boot up images?
- They even could have plugged another 360 into the used DVI slot using the 360 VGA cable and a VGA/DVI adapter. I can't make out what video mode comes up on that TV, but using the HDMI to DVI adapter could be an easy way to explain away the fact that the tv was running in DVI mode if that's what the box at the top left indicated. (Which it would do if they used a hidden 360 with a VGA cable and a DVI adapter)
- Why doesn't the TV have a HDMI port? Either this is footage taken in a Microsoft lab, in which case I can't believe that they would be testing a HDMI equipped product without a HDMI equipped TV or the prototype is actually out in the "open" - which would lead to a question of why more pictures and videos haven't appeared yet.
- The music that's been added to the video could have been done to either cover up whatever was originally said in the video or to cover the sounds made by some of the swaps I mentioned could have happened in filming the video.
The thing that I really wonder on this whole thing, especially given that video, is whether this was just a really great mod job that someone did to add a HDMI port to an existing Xbox 360 that was then changed to become an 360 HDMI version hoax. It would explain the 2 photos being different (pic two being the modded third party case, pic one being a photoshopped pic made for the hoax) and it would explain the music in the video. (Maybe the original video had voice over saying "look, we managed to put a HDMI port on a 360!")
Bottom line? Despite all the inconsistencies I've pointed out, I believe this 360 probably does exist and isn't just a photoshopped hoax. If someone asked me to put money on it, I'd bet this one was a modded 360. Don't take that as gospel though, it's just my guess and I've been proved wrong many times before - this one could easily go either way. If it is a new model of the 360, keep what I said about 1080p at the start of the article in mind before you freak out. Maybe we'll learn a bit more when the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicks off tomorrow.
For more information, check out the following stories;
- Exclusive: 360 HDMI Proof - HR Pictures and Video - HANA Scaler - Xbox Scene
- The second Xbox 360 revealed: codename Zephyr - Engadget
- Xbox 360 with HDMI Port - YouTube
- Xbox 360 Getting HDMI? - IGN (June 2006)