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Next-generation hardware FAQ (1 Viewer)

Chad Ellinger

Second Unit
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Next Generation Console FAQ
===========================

1. Hardware Specifications
1.1 Playstation 2
1.2 Xbox
1.3 Gamecube

2. Essential Purchases
This section describes what every gamer needs to buy when they pick up their new system. Today's systems are typically packaged with a similar set of accessories:
  • hardware unit
  • one controller
  • AC power cord
  • stereo A/V cable (for RCA composite video input and stereo audio inputs)
To avoid creating overlaps in this FAQ, I'll avoid discussing specialty video and audio cables here, as these will be the topic of the Special features section.
  • A note about third-party accessories (memory cards and controllers): Although third-party accessories are generally cheaper than first-party varieties, their quality and reliability can vary greatly. To play it safe, many people recommend sticking with official first-party accessories.
2.1 Playstation 2
* Memory card
- the PS2 can read both PS2 and older PSOne memory cards. You can only use PS2 memory cards to save PS2 games, and you can only use PSOne memory cards to save PSOne games.
* Second controller
- original Playstation controllers will work on your PS2
* Multitap + additional controllers (for 3- and 4-player games)
- the original Playstation multitap will not work with PS2 games
* Games!

2.2 Xbox
* Second controller
* Additional controllers (for 3- and 4-player games)
- X-box features 4 controller ports, so no multitap accessory is needed
* Games!

2.3 Gamecube
* Memory card
* Second controller
* Additional controllers (for 3- and 4-player games)
- Gamecube features 4 controller ports, so no multitap accessory is needed
* Games!

3. Special features
3.1 Video
PS2XBoxGamecubeComposite VideoYesYesYesS-VideoYesYesYesComponent (480i) videoYesYesYesProgressive scan (480p) video*YesYesYesHigh-definition (720p, 1080i) video*NoYesNoWidescreen (16:9) output*YesYesYes
* these features are game dependent, i.e. a game must be specifically programmed to allow this feature

3.1.1 What to buy
Here's what you'll need to enable the special video features on your console:

Composite video
- Nothing! All three systems ship with stereo A/V cables standard
S-video
- S-video cables are available from both first and third party vendors (including Monster cable). Microsoft offers an Advanced A/V pack for the Xbox that provides an S-video output for use with any S-Video cable
Component, Progressive scan and High-definition video
- Component cables are available from both first and third party vendors (including Monster cable). Microsoft offers a High Definition A/V pack for the Xbox that provides a component output for use with any component cables

3.1.2 How to setup your widescreen TV for games

Quote:



If a game supports 16:9 widescreen mode, the TV should be placed into "Full" or "16:9" mode (this may be called something else on some models of of TVs) to display the correct aspect ratio. In this more, the game image will fill the screen.

If the game doesn't support 16:9, the TV should be placed in "Normal" or "4:3" mode to display the correct aspect ratio. This mode will place grey or black bars on the side to compensate for the change.




(thanks Graeme Clark!)

3.2 Audio
PS2XBoxGamecubeOptical Audio OutputYesYesNo5.1 audio, cutscenes and cinematicsYesYesNo5.1 audio, realtime (in game)Yes*YesNo
* Some PS2 games by EA have an option for realtime 5.1 DTS sound effects, however the PS2 has no built-in hardware for 5.1 sound encoding. The Xbox's audio processor can encode sound in Dolby Digital 5.1 in hardware in realtime. Although Gamecube has no optical audio output or 5.1 encoding, some games, such as Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, feature Dolby Pro Logic II-encoded sound effects.

3.2.1 What to buy
Here's what you'll need to enable the special audio features on your console:

Optical audio output
- The output jack is built into the Playstation 2, but requires either the Advanced A/V pack or High-Definition A/V pack for the X-Box. A standard optical audio cable (TOSlink) will work with either system. You must have an optical digital input on your A/V receiver as well

5.1 audio
- You need an A/V receiver with Dolby Digital and/or DTS processing.

3.3 Online connectivity
PS2XBoxGamecube56K V.90 modemWith adapterNoWith adapter10/100 EthernetWith adapterBuilt-inWith adapterOnline gamingYes*Yes**Yes***
* Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 is the first PS2 game to feature online play. It requires a USB-to-Ethernet adapter that connects the PS2's USB port to any internet connection. Online support in newer games is delivered via Sony's Online Adapter.
** Microsoft's Live service requires a starter kit from Microsoft. Some older (pre-Live) games (such as Halo) can still be played online using Gamespy's Tunneling software. See Link Removed for details.
*** Gamecube's online gaming selection is limited at best.

3.3.1 What to buy
Xbox requires a $49.95 starter kit that includes Live software and a headset for voice communication. You also get a 12 month subscription to the Live service. It is not yet known how Microsoft plans to price subscription extensions. PS2 requires the purchase of a $39.95 online adapter, which includes both 56K and broadband (ethernet) connections. There is no subscription charge. Gamecube requires the purchase of either the $34.95 modem adapter or the $34.95 broadband adapter. There is no subscription charge. Be aware that some games on each of the systems may charge their own connection fees for online usage (e.g. Sega's Phantasy Star Online for Gamecube).

3.4 DVD playback
PS2XBoxGamecubePlays DVD moviesYesYes*NoProgressive scan for moviesNoNoN/ADolby Digital/DTS outputYesYesN/A
* requires Microsoft's DVD remote

3.4.1 What to buy
Xbox requires the DVD remote to enable DVD movie playback. PS2 can play movies out of the box, however, it is HIGHLY recommended that you purchase the official Sony remote control for PS2. This remote features a CD with updated DVD drivers for the PS2 that are stored on your memory card and fix a number of playback issues (including the lip synch issue).

* NOTE: If you buy a PS2 today, you should have the updated DVD drivers already installed by default. Nevertheless, I still recommend Sony's excellent remote control if you plan on utilizing the DVD playback features.

4. Additional resources
Be sure to check out this thread for the latest list of 16:9 and progressive scan games for all 3 consoles.

Anandtech has two excellent technical articles on both the Xbox and the Gamecube.
 

Chad Ellinger

Second Unit
Joined
Jun 18, 2000
Messages
269
Sorry, accidentally hit submit thread before I finished formatting ... bear with me while I correct the formatting a bit.
 

Chad Ellinger

Second Unit
Joined
Jun 18, 2000
Messages
269
Okay, looking better.

I just tried to cover the basics with this, guys. Additional contributions and formatting suggestions are welcome!
 

Jeff Kleist

Senior HTF Member
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Dec 4, 1999
Messages
11,267
You should * the XBox DVD playback just so people realize to look down tha they need the remote
 

Jay W

Supporting Actor
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Oct 5, 1999
Messages
551
Looking good Chad!, only thing I could think of is something explaining how to use the various screen modes (4:3, FULL, 16:9) and to correspondingly setup one's TV for the various modes and games (depending on 16:9 support).

These seem to be asked a fair bit. Great job though.
 

Chad Ellinger

Second Unit
Joined
Jun 18, 2000
Messages
269
something explaining how to use the various screen modes (4:3, FULL, 16:9) and to correspondingly setup one's TV for the various modes and games (depending on 16:9 support).
Great idea, but I don't know how! Since I don't have a 16:9 TV, I've never had to set up my PS2 or Gamecube for this kind of thing. Any takers on writing this section up?
 

Hugh M

Second Unit
Joined
Dec 31, 2001
Messages
324
very nice of you to do this...The FAQ doesn't even apply to me, but it is one of the best I have seen.
:emoji_thumbsup:
 

Andre F

Screenwriter
Joined
Dec 9, 2000
Messages
1,486
Wow, looks great to me. This should be made to be 'sticky' so it doesn't fall off the recent thread list anytime soon. Very infomative.

-Andre F
 

Kip

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Messages
128
:emoji_thumbsup: Great FAQ Chad. Covers the popular questions and topics well. Thanks for taking the time. Hopefully future posters will read it first!
Kip
 

Morgan Jolley

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2000
Messages
9,460
DPLII is not the same as 5.1, but the sound does not make a game good, it only enhances it. If a game has good 5.1 but sucks horribly, then the 5.1 doesn't matter. Same goes for visual quality.

Interestingly enough, though, is that horrible sound or video in a good game can ruin it.
 

James D. Robbins

Auditioning
Joined
Mar 17, 2001
Messages
5
Location
Iowa
Real Name
Jim Robbins
Hey, you forgot to mention on your Faq the the XBox supports 720P, as well. I know, I know, most people can't do 720P on their TVs, but my Panasonic PT56WXF95 can, so I just thought I would mention it. Also, I have seen several flat panel displays that do 720P and no 1080i. *shrug* Now, I just hope that some XBox games will actually support those HD resolutions sometime in the near future.

Oh, and real quick, maybe add to the DVD section that the XBox doesn't do ProgScan on the DVD output. Bummer!
 

Graeme Clark

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2000
Messages
2,180
Good quick FAQ! There should probably be some mention of the XBox Memory Card for and what their purpose is. This is one question that has been asked a few times here.

For the 16:9 TVs if you want to explain it a bit... If a game supports 16:9 widescreen mode, the TV should be placed into "Full" or "16:9" mode (this may be called something else on some models of of TVs) to display the correct aspect ratio. In this more, the game image will fill the screen.

If the game doesn't support 16:9, the TV should be placed in "Normal" or "4:3" mode to display the correct aspect ratio. This mode will place grey or black bars on the side to compensate for the change.
 

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