After I bought my HD-DVD add-on for the Xbox 360, I started looking at the VGA cable due to that being the only way you can run 1080p(which my TV does not support) and upscale regular DVDs. One other advantage is you can run your TV in native resolution meaning you get cleanest possible picture because the Xbox 360 and TV doesn’t have to scale the picture to match.
Most 32″ LCD TVs use 1366×768 as their native resolution and not 1280×720 which is what 720p is. So when running 720p, the Xbox outputs a 1280×720 signal and the TV upscales it to 1366×768. Its not a big difference but there is some scaling going on. When using the VGA cable, you can run in whatever native resolution your TV is. My TV is 1366×768 and the closest option I can pick in the Xbox is 1360×768 which is about as close as it gets without being perfect. Now my Xbox is outputting a signal that my TV doesn’t have to scale so its very clean.
One problem a lot of people have with the Xbox 360 VGA cable is that it gives a very washed out display compared to using component cables. I was one of these people. The picture was so muddy I couldn’t stand it and went back to using component cables. A couple of days ago an article on digg popped up taking about how to fix the washed out look. Unfortunately, it only applied to Dell and some Samsung monitors.
This got me thinking and I started googling around to see why this was happening . A lot of people seem to have the problem but no real answers. On a whim, I started messing with the brightness and contrast controls but couldn’t really make it look any better, mostly worst but then i got an idea. When I first got my TV, I calibrated it using Avia. But my TV, like most others, have different settings for each input. So I broke out my Avia DVD, popped in in my Xbox and reran the calibration. While the video was playing, it didn’t seem so washed out and honestly, games and movies looked OK with the VGA cable, just the dashboard was muddy.
When adjusting the Black Level (Brightness) everything came into place. I turned down my Black Level to 0 and it was still too bright. I could still see both white bars moving. I left it at 0 as i couldn’t get it any lower and went back to adjust the White Level(Contrast) to make sure everything was still ok and it was.
I stopped the DVD and went back to the Dashboard and boom, the washed out look was gone! I’m sure it could be better as I couldn’t properly calibrate it due to not being able to lower the Black Level any more but it looks damn good. So good I’m sure in 2 or 3 days I won’t even remember what component looked like. So if you getting a washed out picture using the VGA cable, try lowering your Black Level(Brightness) to 0 to see it the picture improves.
Definitely try and get your hands on Avia and calibrate the screen properly too.