It's finally here! The Xbox 360 HD DVD Emulator went live today, enabling content authors to test their HD DVD content in a real-world consumer player before committing it to a shiny disc. This can save a lot of time and a lot of money for those folks building advanced HD DVD titles. It might help you save your hair, too 🙂
"But," you might be saying, "doesn't Microsoft already ship an HD DVD Simulator for free? Why would I want this emulator?"
Good question. Here are just a few reasons why:
- The simulator only plays Windows Media files, and poorly at that. The emulator plays real multiplexed EVOB files (with VC-1 and AVC and TrueHD etc.) that you will ship on the real disc.
- The simulator doesn't support subtitles or multiple audio tracks. The emulator does, enabling you to actually test them.
- The simulator shows you how your code performs on your desktop PC. The emulator shows you how it performs on real shipping hardware.
- The simulator has some primitive logging functionality, but you need to do some work yourself. The emulator has very robust logging for all aspects of HDi playback (including markup timing!).
There are obviously more reasons to use the emulator, but that's a quick rundown of some of the key reasons why you might want to do it. Of course the simulator is still great for doing early title development – where access to real video and multiple audio tracks might not matter – because using the PC enables a great edit-run-debug workflow. But the emulator is absolutely critical for putting everything together, fine-tuning your code, verifying performance and compatibility, and running a through a thorough test pass prior to check-disc replication.