September 17, 2007
After purchasing my new HDMI-equipped Xbox 360, I decided to hook the console up to my LCD computer monitor to check out the video quality the system can produce. As I wrote about earlier, Best Buy pestered me throughout my visit with offers of pricey cables, including a $40 HDMI to DVI adapter, an $80 HDMI cable, and more. Not wanting to pay those ridiculously marked-up prices, I found a much cheaper solution.
Getting high quality video out of the Xbox 360 is quite easy with the help of a $15 (shipped) HDMI to DVI cable from NewEgg. Connecting the console and the display is a snap, and the video settings are easily adjusted to match the native resolution of the LCD panel.
Audio, on the other hand, is another matter. The placement of the HDMI port on the Xbox 360 is quite poor. It resides directly below the standard A/V output, and the component+composite cable that ships with the premium console is too bulky to plug in above the HDMI cable. It’s only possible to plug in one at a time, as one connector blocks the other. Frustrated, I turned to Google to see if anyone else had run into this design oversight. As it turns out, the Xbox 360 Elite package comes with an HDMI cable and an audio adapter cable with a much thinner plug. Unfortunately, the audio adapter cable is not available as a separate purchase, and can only be bought from Microsoft as a $50 HDMI+audio adapter cable kit (or on eBay for $30 and higher). Clearly a better answer was needed.
I took a trip to my local GameStop store to see what kind of cabling they had in stock, and I managed to score quite a deal that easily solved my audio problem. A standard composite+stereo audio cable, presumably from a now-discontinued Xbox 360 Core package, was available for $5, and it had a thin plug attached.
Using the HDMI to DVI cable and the regular video/audio cable, I can get crystal clear video and stereo audio out of the Xbox 360 for a combined total of $20, which trumps Microsoft’s kit by a great margin. After digging up some additional stereo adapters of my own, I now have a pair of headphones connected, ready to play Halo 3 in crisp 1280x1024 video without waking the neighbors.