Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tonight's Edition of Sony WTF?

I've heard from several other people off the record tonight, and that 140k launch number is looking more and more accurate all the time. Again, all unconfirmed, but it's going to be very interesting to see the final launch numbers.

Here's one more little nugget of gristle for you (thanks Tim Steffes): the PS3 downscales 720p-native games on sets that don't support 720p.

Here's the short version of how this works. There are multiple signals that an HD set might or might not support: 480p (not high-definition but extended definition or ED), 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. There are some others as well, but they're all below 480p and we don't care.

There are quite a few HD sets that support both 480p and 1080i signals, but not 720p signals. So what happens, in every other instance I've ever seen, is that your cable box (or the Xbox 360, to the best of my knowledge) will upconvert 720p signals to 1080i for screens that don't support 720p.

Sony's $599 console, incredibly, doesn't do that. Instead, it DOWNCONVERTS the 720p signal to 480p. Here are the details from an article at IGN:
As it turns out, gamers who own older HD sets that feature only 480i, 480p, and 1080i resolution input capabilities will have to settle for the display quality being downsized as the game boots in its 480p mode rather than upscaling the image from its more desirable 720p mode to the TV's 1080i.

If you're wondering how much of a difference that will make in display quality, here's your short answer: a hell of a lot. And the bigger the screen, the more painful the difference will be.

Again, this is just another in a series of absolutely incomprehensible decisions Sony has made in the last year.

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