A much awaited VGA adapter for the xbox has been released a couple weeks ago. I have had the pleasure to buy one and give it some tests.
My first impressions of taking it out of the box were somewhat mixed. The manual was not in the box because it was not ready by the time the item shipped. That made me wonder what the big rush was in getting the product out the door. I do no not know many people watering at the mouth to get the X2VGA2 but either way they felt they needed to rush the shipment and instead of a manual give you a peice of paper with a link to download the pdf manual.
The X2VGA2 came with a short component video adapter for the xbox (which is really cool), a power adapter, and the vga adapter itself. The component video cable is really neat because it is only about 12 inches long. This makes things great for keeping a neat desk with a xbox, vga adapter, controller, computer, monitor, keyboard, and mouse. The only other thing I would maybe need is on optical audio cable but lets face it, not many people have optical receivers at their desks.
The first thing I noticed about the actual adapter was that it needed a power supply. The first X2VGA adapter and the X2VGA+ adapters did not need any external power. I really enjoyed that aspect on the first adapters, but I realized that this isn’t just a xbox vga adapter. Instead this is a HD component VGA adapter and there would be no way to pull power over component video cables. This adapter will allow me to play a xbox 360, ps2, ps3, gamecube all with the same adapter!
I started getting myself worked up at this point and I realized something on the adapter that I cannot explain. There is no audio passthrough! The X2VGA+ had optical audio out, 1/8″ plug in for your computer, and a 1/8 plug out for headphones or RCA audio (with an adapter). When you were using the xbox the audio would automatically switch from the computer input to the xbox. This was a great feature. The X2VGA2 has no audio plugs what-so-ever. I could have looked at the diagram on their site to figure that out before I purchased the X2VGA2 but it still didn’t make sence why they would leave sound out of the adapter. The lack of optical audio was no problem because the component adapter for the xbox had the optical plug directly on it.
When I turned the device over I saw the familiar buttons of Power and Source and I also noticed a button labeled Screen Shift. A quick glance at the pdf manual told me that the Screen Shift button is for 480i output. That is nice to have but I am still curious why there is a 4th, unlabeled button on the front of the X2VGA2 adapter. The button pushes in but there is no light or action that is accompanied with it. The buttons did not seem as sturdy as previous models and my source button gets stuck almost every time I push it. This was annoying but not a deal breaker.
The top input is in the most awkward place I can imagine. The slide top was very hard to get open and upon my first attempt I thought I was going to break the adapter. Once I had it open I realized that if the adapter was sitting on my desk with the xbox plugged in the back it would be very unbalenced to have cables coming off the top. Moving the lights so they are closer together and a small door on the front would have been much more effective in my opinion.
Finally, how is it to use. When the xbox first starts everything displays fine but once a game starts I have to switch inputs and switch back so it will continue to display on my monitor (I think it has something to do with switching from 480i to 480p). It is annoying but I think I can live with it. The adapter automatically switches inputs when it detects a video source which can be good and bad depending on how many devices you have plugged in. Overall I like being able to play Halo on Xbox Connect every Wednesday night without taking up the TV. The X2VGA2 still has some things missing, but for the price and ability to use any input it is worth it.
Like I stated earlier the hardest thing to understand is the lack of audio. I end up playing Halo with no sound because I do not have female RCA to female 1/8″ audio adapters lying around to even plug in headphones. My only other option is to get 2 female to female rca adapters and then another stereo rca cable to reach my nearby amp. Either way It would have been better to have RCA inputs for audio and a 1/8″ output for sound.
For the discounted $64 this was still a good buy. The rush shipping was also a very nice thing to have (my adpater made it to Southern California in about 3 days). You will never find a component vga video adapter that is still capable of displaying 480p, 720p, and 1080i. Most vga adapters just show the standard 640×480 resolution that is outputted by 480i. One quick trip to radio shack to pick up some female RCA plugs and a couple 1/8″ female adapters and I should have sound inputs and outputs right on the device.
In other words, the X2VGA adapter could have been better, but it is still the best available for under $100.