[Update: Dan has posted some more thoughts about the XboxDigital design in a follow up tweet, which has been included at the bottom of this article.]
Dan Kunz, a.k.a. Citrus3000psi, has had a big week; a new batch of GC Loaders sold out, the final run of WiiDual boards are set to be shipped soon, and the PS1Digital is getting a lot of deserved positive press. With all that’s going on at Black Dog Tech, I assumed that we wouldn’t see any new projects until after the PS1Digital started shipping to customers. Imagine my surprise then, when I went to Twitter this morning and saw this post:
HDMI + Wireless 😋 pic.twitter.com/K57dtIz05I
— Dan Kunz (@citrus3000psi) August 9, 2020
Current Xbox HDMI products—like the excellent Chimeric Systems HDMI Video Adapter—derive their video signal from the Xbox’s analog component output. This is a perfectly acceptable way to enjoy the Xbox’s library on modern displays, but it is also less efficient and lower fidelity than what you would get by pulling a direct digital feed from an image processor farther up the chain. This is basically what projects like PS1Digital and DCDigital do on their respective platforms, but there are two things that make an “XboxDigital” a little more interesting…
First, the Xbox is the only sixth-generation console with truly explicit support for resolutions greater than 480p. There was some token support for 1080i on the Playstation 2, but not to the same degree that you’d find on Xbox. Unless I’m mistaken, this would be the first console Black Dog has supported with an input resolution greater than 480p and I am curious about how it will handle 720p and 1080i. Will it have a frame buffer so that 480i/p, 720p, and 1080i can be scaled for 1080p output? Will each resolution have its own output and scaling settings? Can it interact with soft-mods to change internal resolutions? There are a lot of possibilities here.
Second, Dan references wireless in this tweet. Although every sixth-generation console had at least nominal support for online gaming, and the Playstation 2 would eventually include ethernet in its Slim revisions, the Xbox was notable for being the first console to include ethernet on every console SKU since launch. This eventually lead to projects like XLink Kai and, obviously, the first version of Xbox Live. With the original Xbox Live set to be revived by fans, and ad-hoc online game services still going strong, a built in wireless networking solution for the Xbox would be extremely useful. For reference, both the PS1Digital and DCDigital mods already include WiFi hardware, but only the PS1Digital uses it for anything other than firmware updates (it supports a wireless version of the PSX’s Link Cable for games that support multi-console multiplayer).
Dan’s tweet still leaves a few unanswered questions, chief among them what revisions of Xbox consoles would be supported by a mod like this. Microsoft made several significant revisions to the Xbox’s design, and some of them had image quality issues, so who knows if those revisions will require special consideration. Still, there were also reportedly PS2Digital and WiiDigital projects in the works at Black Dog so it could be a long time before we see a mature XboxDigital feature set.
OG XBOX UPDATE:
There will be two options:
HDMI in the existing LAN port and xbox LAN functions will be bridged to wifi.
HDMI in the existing LAN port and a separate LAN jack will be adjacent to the HDMI. This will require cutting of the original shell.
— Dan Kunz (@citrus3000psi) August 10, 2020