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Game console as a High-End Mediabox

(Topic created on: 18-05-2020 09:32 PM)

Let say, you got a high-end TV and an amazing soundbar and you love gaming, would you be able to use your game console as a Mediabox without having to make significant comprimises? 


That's the question I asked myself considering most consoles advertise that they have media functionality, so it's definitely worth investigating if I say so myself.


A snake under the grass

The fact that your TV and Soundbar supports the latest and greatest technology doesn't always mean that you can always make use of them. In order for everything to work all devices in the chain have to support the same latest and greatest technology. 


For the highest quality you need to at least have the following requirements: 

  • One or more HDR codecs that are supported by all devices
  • One or more high-end audio codecs that are supported by all devices

What happens if one device in device in the chain doesn't support the technology? 

It depends, Let say that if I speak english in my local "dialect"  and people speak common brittish english there is a good chance that we can understand each other. But it will never be as good as two native speakers that use the same language without a few local oddities thrown into the mix :winking-face: 


...And if we add someone talking chinese into the mix things might be slightly disastrous. 


The same principles count for your media setup, the only exception is if one device in the chain "forwards" the signal unmodified. In that case the original quality is spared. 


HDR comes in all kind of flavours.

HDR is of course the high-end technology we all know about, but one HDR codec isn't like the other. Samsung TV's in general support the following HDR-Codecs:

  1. HDR10+ The best of the best. You are sure of an optical HDR Experience. 
  2. HDR10 This is the most common HDR-Codec. The only downside is that it offers less flexibility than HDR10+. It's still great though! 
  3. HLG: The "baseline" HDR. The largest benefit is that TV's that do not support HDR can also "understand" HLG signal. 

Differences between audio codecs

Audio codecs are slightly more complex to grasp, to keep things simple I will only use the most significant terms for a home cinema setup. 


The generations in order are (From bad to perfect): 

  1. Mono Sound
  2. Stereo Sound
  3. Surround Sound (5.1 is the most known one. Every number is a speaker involved). 
  4. Object Based Audio (Dolby Atmos and DTS:X). 


The XBOX one X supports most high end protocols, from HDR10 tot Dolby Atmos. I would say that this makes the XBOX One X a full-fledged high end mediabox worth considering. The only downside is that it doesn't support HDR10+. 



Sound: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X


How to install it:

- Connect the XBOX One X with a Premium HDMI Cable to the One Connect Box/TV
- Configure the sound of your TV as "PCM/Bitstream" 


The application support on the XBOX one X is great, as long as the developer has created an app for the Windows store they can easily publish it for your XBOX. Here a few examples op applications that you might be interested in: 

  1. Netflix
  2. Prime Video
  3. Youtube
  4. Spotify
  5. Plex

Playstation 4 Pro

Unlike with the Xbox it was unfortunately a lot harder to discover what HDR codecs where used on the PS4 Pro. In fact I have reached out to their costummer service and they can not give the details considering they see it as a "Trade secret". They could also not guarantee that HDR functions for the same reasons. Which is odd considering they advertise with it. The secrecy and lack of information gives me the unfortunate impression that Sony confidence in the HDR and Audio qualities of their product. 


Of course that didn't beat me and I could get a few specefications though my tests. Please note that these specifications are not officially supported by Sony and can change due to that at any moment. 


Unofficial Specifications PS4 Pro: 

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1*


How you can connect the PS4 Pro: 

- Connect the XBOX One X with a Premium HDMI Cable to the One Connect Box/TV
- Configure the sound of your TV as "PCM/Bitstream" 


Available Apps: 

The amount of apps where in my experience extremely limited. I was able to find the following mainstream apps: 

  • Netflix
  • Prime Video
  • Youtube 
  • Spotify

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find Plex :winking-face: 


Based on my test I realised that the 5.1 Audio wasn't functioning in the youtube app.


Considering the needless complexity and the secrecy of Sony I unfortunately can only discourage people to use a PS4 Pro as a Multimedia device. It's however still a great game console. Personally I was quite dissapointed about those results considering I have a PS4 Pro myself and ended up buying a different mediabox as a result of my tests. 


Nintendo Switch

I won't go in depth here considering the Nintendo Switch only supports youtube. It doesn't support either 4K and is simply not capable for high-end media usage (I love mine though!). 



As a Multimediabox the XBOX one X is the clear winner and is defintely a worthy high end mediabox, not only they have the confidence that it "just works" but they also specify the standards they support on their website - Which is of course a minimum requirement for a trustable vendor. Sony's secrecy about their product didn't help either and makes it impossible for me to recommend the  PS4 Pro as a Multimedia Device, it's still a great game console though. 



If you have a PlayStation 4 Pro I highly recommend to consider purchasing an NVIDIA Shield TV or a Apple TV (For Apple lovers). They support most high-end functionalities and you are sure to have a great viewing experience. - I actually bought the NVIDIA shield TV myself :smiling-face: 


*: Is a trade secret according to sony and will due to that not be officially confirmed. I have added HDR10 as the HDR codec considering sony mentioned on their site that your TV should be HDR10 compatible. In Audio menu Dolby Digital 5.1 was specified as an "example" (I have a 7.1.2 set). Which makes it easy to assume that the codec is supported by Sony. Sony will in no case garantee that the HDR-Functionality functions. 


I have contacted both Sony (Benelux) as Microsoft to confirm the correctness of the information supplied in this article. Sony has stated that they do not wish to react. 


This article is an adaptation of it's dutch version. I haven't tested the availability of apps in the UK/Ireland, my apologies for that. - Still, I believe that this information is useful on the UK community :smiling-face: