PAL video settings and HDTV


Hey folks,


My name is Kevin Meyer (gamertag: doulWeapons) and I’m on the test team for some of the Xbox 360’s system software like the dashboard and the guide. I’m going to talk a little bit about the exciting world of PAL video modes!  Well, maybe it’s not that exciting, but some users have had some confusion on the subject, so we at the Xbox Team blog thought we’d lend a hand in helping you understand what’s going on, and what you can do.


 


The PAL video specification supports two frequencies for output, 50 and 60 hertz.  The Xbox 360 supports both frequencies at standard definition (480i), but only outputs at 60hz for high def resolutions (480p, 720p, and 1080i).  However, just because the system supports 50 Hz doesn’t mean that every game will, and there are a handful of games that won’t work at 50Hz.  These include Feeding Frenzy and The Outfit among others.  If your system is set to PAL 50 output mode, you will see a message telling you that the game doesn’t support the current video mode.  However, if you are in High Def mode, some of these games, like the two I mentioned above, will still show the warning.


 


There was a problem with an early version of the development kit given to game developers that still paid attention to the SD setting for PAL mode, even when your system is set to HD mode.  This has since been fixed so new games that have the 50 Hz limitation for SD won’t hit this problem, but it’s a large amount of work for developers to go back and fix the games that already have the problem.


 


Lucky for you, there is an easy way to get around this problem.  First you need to switch back to using SD mode – flip the switch on your Component HD AV pack to the SD setting, or temporarily swap out your VGA AV pack for a Component (SD) AV pack, S-Video pack, or HD pack set to SD mode.


Next go to the System Blade, pick Console Settings, then Display, and change your output mode to PAL 60. 


Now just switch back to your HD video mode of choice, and you are ready to go.


 


– doulWeapons (kevin.)


Comments (40)

  1. RunRunRa says:

    As someone who’s TV will not run 60hz only games, publishers not supporting PAL50 is really starting to annoy me. I hope this is just an early development thing and doesn’t become the norm.

  2. SilverSlide says:

    I understand that it would be difficult to get publishers to put out patches via Live to fix this but it would be good to have there are games that sit on the shelf because I don’t want to go through that procedure.

    That said, I know it’s unlikely, however there are games in backcompat with the same issue – surely the emulator could be made to get round this – if only for the most popular games (yes I mean Halo: Combat Evolved and some of the Tom Clancy range).

  3. mario says:

    nice man

    thanks

  4. Big Daddy Shark says:

    That doesn’t sound like something users of a video game console should have to do.

  5. Eastbeast314 says:

    Nice to know and nice to see something posted here! 🙂

  6. Matt says:

    Nice to know.

    Can you tell me now how to get Doom 3 to work using the VGA cable? It only supports 50hz, VGA only supports 60. What do you do?

    WHAT DO YOU DO?

  7. DOS4GW says:

    Thank you for the information. I was just asking about this on Xbox-Scene yesterday.

  8. Niki says:

    Will we ever see 1080i at 50hz? Im stuck playing at 480p on my tv as it only supports 1080i at 50hz.

  9. Scott says:

    Dude..this is great info..well done. Here’s a question that will sizzle your gizzle thou..? I use my Xbox 360 on a 20 Inch BenQ Widescreen LCD Moniter..it supports H-Def at 60Hz only so all my 360 games run fine, but I also want to play old xbox games like Black Arrow, Etc and apparently these only run at 50Hz with the 360, so being that my Moniter doesnt suuport 50Hz I cant current play the older games on my screen..is there any way around this issue..?? Cheers 😛

  10. Moviefreak says:

    So what you mean is that you can play NTSC games that way?

  11. Rasher says:

    Thanks for the info regarding PAL.

    Sorry to go off topic, but, when the 360 first came out I was really impressed. The Spring update made things even sweeter, but there are still a couple of things I’d like to see in the next release.

    1. Restructuring of Video section on Media Blade. It should allow you to go to your PC or 360 hard drive, like for music. When you go to PC, you should be able to stream from your PC (I have Media Centre, but better for everyone if this was not required). Then, when you go to the 360 hard drive, there should be a folder/directory layout identical to the categories available in the marketplace for video content (i.e. game trailers, must video etc…).  At the moment, its just one big list of videos. Note – leaving the Game Videos on the Games blade is a good idea.

    2. Ability to log into Xbox Live whilst appearing in a Offline mode by default.

    3. Web browser to compete with the rivals

    Hope that made some sense. Keep up the good work.

  12. NannyOggDK says:

    It would be so much easier if you could just change the output mode even if you are using HD/VGA.

  13. Jason says:

    Interesting!

    Also, what is the framerate of the downloadable videos for PAL countries?

    It seems to me that most videos are not smooth in PAL 50. I currently use PAL 60, however this results in a slightly lesser quality compared to PAL 50 on my Philips TV (SD).

    But I’m going HD soon… 🙂

  14. i guess i’m glad i don’t have to worry about this 🙂

  15. II SLAUGHTER II says:

    do you guys have a podcast. Or ever plan to start one. You guys a major could make a realy adictive podcast

  16. CrystalHawk says:

    Kevin,

    This is all well and good, but unfortunately just because a variant of the PAL standard (called PAL-60, PAL-60/525 or Pseudo PAL) exists doesn’t mean it is supported by vendors of products for a region.

    In Australia, the official Analog broadcast standard is PAL-B, and this is what the manufacturers of televisions have to conform to. There is no law stating they must support anything else (including 30 or 60fps support).

    Due to this, alot of manufacturers brought HD ready televisions to market supporting just the Australian PAL-B and HD standards for display, in essence a frame rate of 25/50 only.

    This shows that Microsoft’s generic statement to support "PAL" is technically incorrect – to support "PAL" you must support all inherent standards of it… including 25 fps support, and the ramifications of this is the sale of Xbox 360’s and games into a territory where the early adopters of HD Ready TV sets will never see a HD signal output from their shiny new console, or for people with non HD sets may only be able to play a small amount of games due to all of the latest releases only supporting "PAL-60".

    TV manufacturers that have done this that I know of are Panasonic and Samsung, and they are unwilling or unable to provide a fix for these TV’s that handle "Australian Standard Broadcast SD/HD", claiming they have done what they need to, and it is in essence Microsoft’s problem.

    Any thoughts?

    Regards,

    CrystalHawk (Shane).

  17. Same thing goes for Halo 2. When you’re trying to play it on a VGA monitor, just switch back to the component cable, knock the resolution back down to PAL-50, then connect the VGA cable back up to download the H2 auto-updates to your 360.

    Voila! Instant halo-2 over PAL VGA!

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  20. Peter says:

    Where is the option on PAL console ? I can’t find it 🙁

  21. SilverSlide says:

    The point is nighthawk that some of us don’t have access (or at least easy access) to a device that can use component, therefore we cannot play a number of titles – due to a defect in the way the 360 works (as if we could change the mode with a vga cable it would work).

    I really hope that a solution is made for this issue it is disapointing that we have to hack around our console by swapping wires etc…

  22. Bob Slydell says:

    What does PAL stand for?

  23. Nellus says:

    Yeah, the Pal 50hz issue and BC games is a pain. Having to swap cables everytime I want to play Halo is a real headache, and its a worry that it might be wearing out the socket

    I really hope MS can fix this problem, especially with the only true 1080p support been with the VGA cable, it sort of leaves European gamers at a disavantage. Ive asked for advice on this from MS employees in different forums, but can’t get an answer.

  24. nick richmond says:

    ok so i bought an xbox on ebay from the uk and i bought a power converter that works so my xbox does turn on but i need a video converter to see the picture i was wondering if there is a way of taking apart my xbox and switching the 50hz to american standard so i could play it

    email me at devilsprsyn@cox.net

  25. sonny115 says:

    " #  re: PAL video settings and HDTV

    Monday, August 14, 2006 11:30 PM by NxJ NightHawk

    Same thing goes for Halo 2. When you’re trying to play it on a VGA monitor, just switch back to the component cable, knock the resolution back down to PAL-50, then connect the VGA cable back up to download the H2 auto-updates to your 360.

    Voila! Instant halo-2 over PAL VGA! "

    The problem with this nighthawk is that myself and others receive an error message regarding the VGA cable not being able to handle 50hz signals when we try and download the update.

  26. wahid says:

    can any one please help ?? my tv is 50hz and gear of war  is only 60hz !!is there any way i can play it on my tv ?? thanks  alot

  27. wahid says:

    can any one please help ?? my tv is 50hz and gear of war  is only 60hz !!is there any way i can play it on my tv ?? thanks  alot

  28. elaine alderson says:

    can you please tell me how to play gear of war on 50hz tv

  29. RobC says:

    My 480p stopped working on my EDTV (480p max) after connecting to a full HDTV running 1080i.  Component works when switch set to TV mode so I thought I would try this PAL setting.  I do not have this setting.  Followed the instructions at http://www.xbox.com/en-AU/support/xbox360/console/pal60.htm but still don’t show this setting.  Maybe because this is a USA local?  This 480p problem is driving me nuts… Thanks, Rob

  30. ROBOSLIDER says:

    We need the VGA cable to be compatible with 50Hz and the console needs to auto switch between PAL-50 and 60 where necessary.

    I use VGA and want to play Doom 3, but the PAL version is 50Hz only and while the NTSC version is 60Hz and region free, I don’t know if NTSC Xbox games are BC on a PAL 360.

    Another VGA problem is the Xbox content downloader because it’s 50Hz only, so while Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is 60Hz compatible and looks great through VGA, if I want to download any maps I can’t.

  31. ROBOSLIDER says:

    We need the VGA cable to be compatible with 50Hz and the console needs

    to auto switch between PAL-50 and 60 where necessary.

    I use VGA and want to play Doom 3, but the PAL version is 50Hz only and

    while the NTSC version is 60Hz and region free, I don’t know if NTSC

    Xbox games are BC on a PAL 360.

    Another VGA problem is the Xbox content downloader because it’s 50Hz

    only, so while Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is 60Hz compatible and looks

    great through VGA, if I want to download any maps I can’t.

  32. Inigo Montoya says:

    PAL – being the phase signal used in UK, Australia, NZ and well many countries outside the USA is rated 50hz, whereas PAL60 is essentially NTSC, although uses the same specification as PAL50.

    What I would like to know is this:

    Is there a technical limitation restricting the xbox360 to output HD 720/1080 at 60hz for games?

    Since HD-DVD playback can be done at 720/1080 @50hz can we expect the same for Xbox360 games as well?

    If this could be done before the PS3 is out in our parts of the world, I would expect to see a few more shoppers go for XBOX360 over PS3.

  33. W0WSER says:

    so can any HD TV play games that are 60hz only?

  34. kyle says:

    if you use a pal game on a us xbox will it be in black and white??

  35. icecube says:

    I have the same problem with wahid.

    My TV is 50hz and ProEvolution6 supports only PAL60. Is there any solution for that?

    I rent an accomodated flat in Egypt and I do not know how long I will stay here, so buying a new TV is not the best option

  36. Jimbo says:

    I use the 360 as a Media Center extender over here in the UK and the lack of support for 50Hz modes in HD leaves a big hole in what is otherwise an excellent system.

    Lets just set a few things straight about PAL. Pal is a group of specs that defines analgue television transmission – it doens’t really have anything to do with the discussions on this page. The Xbox 360 does not really support PAL – if it did I would expect to be able to plug a 50 Ohm co-ax in the back and connect it to the aerial input of my analogue tuner TV (thank goodness is doesn’t work like that!).

    Instead these days the term PAL has become used informally to define the frame rate (or a multiple of the frame rate) of the source material. PAL is generally used for 25 frames per second source material, this can be played back at any multiple of 25Hz (ie. 50Hz, 75Hz, 100Hz etc…), so for 50Hz playback each frame is simply shown twice, 3 times at 75Hz etc…

    It cannot simply be played back at other frequencies – so when the TV is set to 60Hz, ie. showing 30 frames per second (twice per frame), it only has 25 frames per second to show. Hence it gets itself in a mess – it is flicking thorugh the frames to fast and then runs out of frames and you will get a noticable judder, anything scrolling/panning will look awful. It gives some people head/eye ache.

    Hence here in the UK all my source material from the BBC etc.. that makes its way onto my Media Center is 25 fps so I need my Xbox to stick at 50Hz regardless of the resolution selected. Unfortunatly the PAL menu item in setup disappears for HD modes – PLEASE PLEASE MICROSOFT FIX THIS!!!  KEEP THE PAL SETTING REGARDLESS OF HD/SD modes.

    I would go one stage further and say that the Xbox should handle frame rates intelligently – this could also benefit people in 60Hz counties.

    Films (movies for our US cousins!) are shot at about 24fps. When these are converted for playback on a 25fps TV system the film is simply sped up slightly – this works quite well. But to convert a 24fps film/movie to 30fps TV system is messy – they use something called 3:2 pulldown (look it up in a wiki if interested).

    So why not implement the following:

    – In the Xbox setup you tell the Xbox about your TV. Tell it if your TV can handle 50Hz, or 60Hz, or both. (my HD TV here in UK can do both)

    – If it can handle both, then the Xbox should examine the source material it is going to play, and select the appropriate mode automatically.

    Hoping someone in the appropriate software team is listening.

    Kepp up the good work,

    Cheers

    Jimbo.

  37. Letzte Woche gab es bei Amazon ein gutes Angebot: Wenn man eine Xbox 360 kaufte, bekam man das HD-DVD-Laufwerk für die Xbox, 3 Monate Xbox Live Gold und – das war für mich das entscheidende – GTA IV für die Xbox gratis dazu.Bei der Xbox 360 Elite, di