Dolby Vision on Xbox Series consoles makes home entertainment more pleasing

In my previous article, I made a short reference to the availability of Dolby Vision on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. For the newcomers and games still wondering what Dolby Vision’s relevance with the modern Xbox consoles is all about and how it can benefit gamers who have the means, we can take a close look at the details through the September 28, 2021 article published on Xbox.com.

Before examining the said article, let’s start first with a view of Dolby Vision on Xbox Series S and X via this official video released on September 23, 2021.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Xbox.com article written by XGP Senior Program Manager Katie Slattery. Some parts in boldface…

At Xbox, we want to give gamers the best gaming experience at full audio and visual fidelity. That is why we partnered with Dolby to bring immersive spatial audio to our platform with Dolby Atmos in 2017, and ultra-vivid picture quality for movies and streaming with Dolby Vision in 2018. Then in 2020 with Xbox Series X|S, we launched the first consoles ever to support gaming in Dolby Atmos and with the future capability to support Dolby Vision.

Dolby Vision gaming now available on Series XIS

Starting today, gamers with compatible Dolby Vision-enabled TVs will be able to enjoy full-spectrum visuals with the rollout of Dolby Vision gaming on Xbox Series X|S. With Dolby Vision, epic worlds – such as lush rainforests or neon futuristic cities – are brought to life in more vivid color. Dolby Vision deepens your immersion into the experience by enabling you to see an enemy hiding in the shadows or spot hidden clues through expanded contrast and better clarity in both bright and dark scenes.

To ensure a growing library of games are available, Dolby and Xbox are working together closely with developers to provide the tools they need so their titles can take full advantage of Dolby Vision. They can do this through built-in features within the Xbox platform or they can choose to implement the technology directly into a game’s engine.

There are more than 100 next-gen HDR titles optimized for Series X|S that will feature Dolby Vision, and in the future you’ll see more games like Halo Infinite taking full advantage of Dolby Vision.

Get the complete Dolby experience with Dolby Atmos by downloading Dolby Access today. Pair with Xbox headphones for the ultimate spatial sound experience.

Xbox Series XIS will deliver improved visual experience to thousands of classic games

In addition to this curated set of Xbox Series X|S optimized titles, we also wanted to ensure the robust library of games previously released in HDR or Auto HDR would benefit as well. This led us to work with Dolby to bring new visual enhancement capabilities that utilize Dolby Vision technology to deliver an improved visual experience for thousands of existing HDR10 and Auto HDR games. When you are connected to a Dolby Vision enabled TV and Dolby Vision is enabled on Xbox Series X|S, the consoles will automatically enhance your existing games to deliver a rich, immersive experience unrivaled by any other game console.

How Series XIS and Dolby Vision make your gaming experience better

Dolby Vision takes gaming to the next level through incredible brightness, color, contrast, and detail.  Games in Dolby Vision automatically map to any display that supports Dolby Vision, delivering players the benefit of seeing the best possible picture available. Dolby Vision is also compatible with next-generation features available on Xbox Series X|S such as DirectX Raytracing, automatic low-latency mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and up to 120FPS depending on the capabilities of your TV*.

The article also has other notable details such as the confirmation that Microsoft and Dolby are collaborating closely with the companies that manufacture HDTVs/smart TVs and enable them to update the firmware to enable Dolby Vision at 120 Hz. That being said, if you own an Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X connected to that high-tech HDTV or smart TV in your household, you might want to check right now if it is indeed a Dolby Vision-enabled machine. There will be some adjustments to be made with the settings of your HDTV and you can see how at the very end of the Xbox.com article at https://news.xbox.com/en-us/2021/09/28/dolby-vision-gaming-now-available-on-xbox-series-x-s/

More on this technological breakthrough, I love the fact that it has been confirmed that thousands of classic games (games from previous Xbox console generations) will have visual enhancements covered by Dolby Vision. In short, when you play an old game on your Xbox Series console via the backward compatibility feature, there will be visual improvements as well as a better use of your TV’s Dolby Vision capability. With regards to the games of this current console generation, there are over a hundred HDR (high dynamic range) games optimized for the Xbox Series consoles using Dolby Vision benefits. Such enhancements and benefits will be present in future games like Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite, Starfield, Elder Scrolls 6, Fallout 5, the next Forza Motorsport, Avowed, The Outer Worlds 2, Perfect Dark and a whole lot more!

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Team Xbox’s presentation at the Tokyo Game Show 2021

Recently I saw via GameSpot’s YouTube channel the Tokyo Game Show 2021 livestream presentation of Team Xbox which lasted about an hour. To say the least, it was indeed a big improvement over what Xbox presented during the 2020 edition of the TGS. There were no major announcements comparable with what were revealed during the last E3 but Team Xbox and its partners in Japan showed there were exciting things for gamers to look forward to.

From Team Xbox.

For one thing, Xbox Cloud Gaming launched in Japan as well in several other places around the world bringing together a massive community of gamers through the Xbox platforms (consoles, PC and mobile devices) who in turn will be able to play over a hundred games through the Xbox Game Pass (XGP) paid subscription service. Team Xbox is focused on reaching over a billion people in 26 countries across five continents and Japan itself is indeed essential not only as a market but also the place where several small and independent game creators have listed through the ID@Xbox program which itself has two hundred Japanese indie games. Xbox Game Pass itself has over a hundred Japanese titles and Bandai Namco’s SCARLET NEXUS is the newest addition to the service.

This video by Dealer Gaming has excerpts from the livestream.
A finely made Japanese visual emphasis on Xbox Cloud Gaming and more. Play anywhere!
The newest Japanese addition to XGP!

As expected, Forza Horizon 5 was part of the TGS Xbox livestream and it would be interesting to see how the game, along with the Xbox Series consoles, will perform commercially and critically among the gamers in Japan this December. Don’t forget Japan’s video game legacy of producing many racing games. What surprised me was the inclusion of the upcoming Xbox-exclusive, Arkane-developed game Redfall which is set for a 2022 release. Check out the Xbox Japan YouTube videos below…

More on Japan-made games, the long-running King of Fighter series is back with a new installment coming to Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows 10 on February 2022…The King of Fighters XV (stylized as KOF XV) and below is the trailer. You can also order the game now.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising from Rabbit & Bear Studios also made an appearance during the livestream. Some gameplay footage was shown from the upcoming action RPG which you can see below…

Bethesda’s Todd Howard presented the upcoming Xbox-exclusive sci-fi RPG Starfield which will not only be released globally on November 11, 2022, it will be fully localized for the Japanese. Pay close attention in the next video…

The Xbox-exclusive sci-fi RPG Starfield!

Team Xbox chief Phil Spencer, who delivered his opening remarks and reaffirmed their commitment on Japan, its gamers, game creators and business partners, had a nice on-screen talk with the legendary game creator Shinji Mikami (famous for the Resident Evil game franchise) who is the founder and one of the top officials of Japan-based Tango Gameworks. Watch the video below…

The head of Xbox and the legendary Shinji Mikami.

Overall, the TGS 2021 Xbox livestream was fun, surprising and exciting even though there were no major game announcements. I should say I find it baffling that no firm release date for CrossFireX was revealed even though it was announced before that the game will come out on Xbox this year. Apart from the Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming announcements and the emphasis on a global audience through Xbox platforms, a lot of games were shown and the independently made video games made by Japanese and Korean creators like Craftopia, The Good Life, RPG Time, Mighty Goose, Lapin, Unsouled and Eternal Return had their own moments of showcase during the livestream. To say that Xbox has no games is a blatant lie and the current leadership of Team Xbox is totally different compared to what was during the unfortunate Xbox One era.

Japan is the fastest growing market for Team Xbox in the world. The growth of Japanese gaming market as claimed by Spencer is indeed real even though the PlayStation-biased members of the media consistently ignore it. Apart from realizing the Japanese growth, Team Xbox is committed to help bring those games around the world for gamers to enjoy. For the full recap of the livestream, click here.

Spencer and his team have been working hard with global gaming in mind. Just before they started their TGS 2021 livestream, they announced that Dolby Vision Gaming has been made available on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X.

For the newcomers reading this read the excerpt below…

Dolby Vision takes gaming to the next level through incredible brightness, color, contrast, and detail.  Games in Dolby Vision automatically map to any display that supports Dolby Vision, delivering players the benefit of seeing the best possible picture available. Dolby Vision is also compatible with next-generation features available on Xbox Series X|S such as DirectX Raytracing, automatic low-latency mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and up to 120FPS depending on the capabilities of your TV.

On the Xbox platform, an updated version of the Edge browser was released and it is capable of playing Stadia games and even access Discord. The said browser is unsurprisingly available on Xbox One and the two Xbox Series consoles. With regards to the ongoing supply problem, Phil Spencer confirmed that getting a new Xbox console will still be challenging going into 2022. How much components Team Xbox and its console manufacturers can receive from the suppliers right now is a mystery but there certainly is an ongoing chip shortage that not only affect game consoles but all other devices and even cars. Finally, Team Xbox hired Crystal Dynamics as a co-production partner with their own studio The Initiative to make the Perfect Dark reboot.

With the TGS 2021 Xbox livestream over, the excitement for gaming will truly begin within this fourth quarter. November will see the release of Forza Horizon 5 while December will not only have the highly anticipated exclusive Halo Infinite but also The Gunk (another exclusive game) and the flashy space shooter Chorus.

In ending this piece, here are some Xbox-related videos for your enjoyment.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Better than Streaming: Classic film Citizen Kane leads Criterion Collection’s first 4K Blu-ray titles!

Welcome back to this latest edition of the Better than Streaming series! If you are a very avid movie buff or if you are a collector of films released in physical media, notably on 4K Blu-ray, then you should be very delighted to hear the latest news that The Criterion Collection officially announced that it will soon release its first six films in 4K Blu-ray format! The most famous film among them is none than Citizen Kane (starring and directed by the late Orson Welles).

For the newcomers reading this, The Criterion Collection is well-known for publishing important classic and contemporary films from around the world in editions that offer the highest technical quality and award-winning, original supplements.

To put things in perspective about the company’s jump into 4K, posted below is the official announcement of The Criterion Collection and I encourage you 4K Blu-ray collectors to pay close attention. Some parts in boldface…

We’re thrilled to announce Criterion’s first 4K Ultra HD releases, a six-film slate that includes Citizen Kane, Menace II Society, The Piano, Mulholland Dr., The Red Shoes and A Hard Day’s Night. The first of these editions and their special features will be detailed in our November 2021 announcement next week, with others to follow in subsequent months.

The most dazzling debut in cinema history, Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane was Criterion’s first laserdisc release 37 years ago. It now rejoins the library after a long absence, making its first appearance in 4K Ultra HD along with Allen and Albert Hughes’s riveting breakthrough Menace II Society; Jane Campion’s Academy Award–winning The Piano, starring Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin in her breakout role; David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr., a tale of love and jealousy in the city of dreams; Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s singular Technicolor fantasia The Red Shoes; and Richard Lester’s timeless movie musical A Hard Day’s Night, which brought the Beatles’ revolutionary talent and irreverent humor to the big screen.

Each title will be available in a 4K UHD+Blu-ray combo pack including a 4K UHD disc of the feature film as well as the film and its special features on Blu-ray. Select films will be presented in Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos. Stay tuned for more details in our November announcement!

Wow! That’s really exciting news for Criterion collectors and film buffs! I personally have Citizen Kane on Blu-ray and have wondered when will it be released in 4K Blu-ray format. I never saw Menace II Society, Mulholland Dr., The Red Shoes and A Hard Day’s Night. The Piano is familiar to me given the fact that it became controversial here in the Philippines when the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) banned it only to be allowed to be screened as a result of then President Fidel V. Ramos overruling the regulators.

Going back to The Criterion Collection’s 4K Blu-ray lineup, unsurprisingly each title will come in 4K Blu-ray combos (4K Blu-ray disc, Blu-ray disc and additional stuff). The big question is this…will each of those titles’ have native 4K visuals for the 4K Blu-ray discs? As of this writing, the 4K Blu-ray page of Citizen Kane at Blu-ray.com does not indicate if the movie will be in native 4K or upscaled 4K. For me, upscaled 4K is unacceptable!

Let me ask you readers: Are you very excited or at least interested in the initial batch of 4K Blu-ray titles announced by The Criterion Collection? Are you excited to see Citizen Kane in 4K resolution?

For Citizen Kane trivia, here is a video by Minty Comedic Arts. Be warned of potential spoilers…

In ending this piece, here are some short clips and trailers for your enjoyment.

For more entries of my Better than Streaming series of articles, check out my pieces on The Beastmaster 4K Blu-rayThe Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-rayMortal Kombat 2021 4K Blu-raySpace Jam 4K Blu-rayV: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray (read my retro review), V: The Final Battle Blu-rayHighlander 4K Blu-ray and The Suicide Squad.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

If you wish to join a group of movie enthusiasts and talk about cinema, visit the Movie Fans Worldwide Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/322857711779576

My Observations: Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X

What a roller coaster ride that has been. The leaks were made and the speculating is all over. Microsoft is officially launching its next-generation game consoles Xbox Series S (economic all-digital model) and Xbox Series X (premium model) on November 10, 2020 with prices of $299 and $499 respectively! Pre-ordering of the consoles will begin on September 22, 2020.  

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S together!

In an Xbox.com article, Xbox division chief Phil Spencer stated: On November 10, a new generation of console gaming begins. That’s when our vision becomes reality with the most performant, immersive and compatible next-generation console gaming experiences, and the freedom to play your games with your friends, anytime, anywhere.

For the newcomers reading this, the premium Xbox Series X was officially announced many months ago and it was only very recently that the budget-friendly Xbox Series S was officially announced (after the leakages, take note).

So what are the differences between the two? Posted below for your general reference are the official specs from Xbox.com

The most obvious difference starts with the GPU with the Xbox Series S having 32 lesser compute units (CUs) as well as a lower frequency per CU compared with the premium Xbox. This results the Xbox Series S also having 4 teraflops of GPU power or barely one-third of the more powerful one. The $299 Xbox also lesser GDDR6 RAM and lower bandwidth. In terms of resolution, Xbox Series X can render visuals in native 4K resolution (3840×2160) while the less powerful Xbox can do up to 1440P. Both of them, however are expected to deliver similar results when it comes to frame-rates. On storage, Xbox Series S has 512GB SSD (solid state drive) which is roughly half that of the premium console. If you enjoy watching movies on Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray discs, or if you intend to use physical copies of video games, the Xbox Series X has a 4K Blu-ray disc drive while the cheaper Xbox has no such drive at all (note: it’s all digital).

Considering the huge $200 price difference, the two next-generation Xbox consoles will appeal to different kinds of gamers and eventually other consumers who want to improve their home entertainment (or in the case of individuals living away from their families, the personal entertainment) set-up. I can imagine gamers who enjoy playing video games using their PC monitors (at the desks inside their bedrooms or in the house study), who prefer digital downloads over physical media for their games, and looking for bargains will be attracted to Xbox Series S. Gamers who still use optic media for their games, who want to upgrade their movie viewing experience with their 4K TV at home (and start collecting movies on 4K Blu-ray disc format), who want a lot more SSD storage available, and who want the best of 4K gaming will finds Xbox Series X a preferred machine.

Gamers who started their respective Xbox legacies (with Xbox LIVE accounts) for more than one console generation should be happy to know that their old Xbox-related game collection will NOT go to waste as both Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X have been confirmed to be backward compatible with original Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One titles. The beauty with Xbox backward compatibility is that the old games will not only be played, they will have visual enhancements too.

More on the Xbox Series S, the $299 tag price is indeed very enticing especially during this time of pandemic and economic uncertainty. The cheaper console, which has a surprisingly small size compared with other game consoles, is literally a very powerful beast performance wise and (like the premium Xbox) it also has ray-tracing.

Microsoft’s Head of Platform Engineering and Hardware Liz Hamren confirmed the following details: Xbox Series S delivers the same next generation speed and performance that define Xbox Series X. It is similar in CPU and has the identical I/O performance as Xbox Series X, making it easier for developers to deliver the same great performance, while rendering at a lower resolution. Xbox Series S delivers 4x the processing power of an Xbox One console and supports experiences up to 120fps, more immersive and responsive gameplay with support for hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing and Variable Rate Shading. In addition, Xbox Series S includes 512GB of custom SSD storage and is powered by the Xbox Velocity Architecture, delivering more than 40x the I/O bandwidth of an Xbox One resulting in faster loading times, steadier frame rates and Quick Resume for multiple titles.

You’ll also experience the same great audio on Xbox Series S that you will on Xbox Series X with Spatial Sound, including support for Dolby Atmos. What’s more, support for Dolby Vision via streaming media apps like Disney+, Vudu and Netflix will be available across Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X at launch, and Dolby Vision support for gaming will come first to our next-gen Xbox consoles in 2021.

As of this writing, I noticed a number of gamers online expressing concern about the 512GB SSD storage on the Xbox Series S. On face value, 512GB looks insufficient considering the sizes of video games and DLC (downloadable content) today. Like the premium console, the SSD storage of Xbox Series S can be upgraded by means of using the proprietary Xbox Storage Expansion Card which will be a very expensive affair for consumers and the sad thing is that traditional SSDs cannot be used.

When it comes to digital services and subscriptions, Microsoft is really going all-out with brand new offerings via the Xbox All Access program which will start in twelve nations. Take note that the wildly popular Xbox Game Pass is included!

Xbox Prdouct Marketing General Manager Jeff Gattis announced the following details: Whether you’re upgrading to the newest consoles or joining the Xbox family for the first time, with Xbox All Access, you can get everything you need to play — an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S and 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate — from $24.99 a month for 24 months with no upfront cost. We’re also excited to bring Xbox All Access to more fans around the world this holiday, and to offer existing Xbox All Access members more flexibility in their upgrade option.

With Xbox All Access you not only get the latest consoles, but also an instant library of over 100 high-quality games for console, PC, and Android mobile devices (Beta).  Plus, you get all new Xbox Game Studios titles the same day they release, including Halo Infinite. What’s more, starting this holiday Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Xbox Game Pass for PC members get an EA Play membership at no additional cost.

And then there is EA Play!

As if that was not good enough, there is also Dolby Vision for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S! Read the details at Dolby.com

With Xbox Series X at $499 and Xbox Series S at $299 backed with very enticing online offerings and features that promise strong value for customers, it is clear that Microsoft is looking strong with launching the two next-generation consoles even though Halo Infinite has been delayed beyond launch. Times like this, I wish that the Xbox-exclusive The Gunk was launch title.

Without Halo Infinite as the showcase of the next-generation launch, Microsoft will have to rely on 3rd-party video games (both cross-generation and next-generation that will be released along with or shortly after the new consoles’ launch) looking and playing great on the next-generation Xbox consoles to convince gamers to make the technological jump forward early. It’s already confirmed that Ubisoft’s much-awaited Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will not only run at 60FPS on Xbox Series X but also in 4K resolution! Considering the open-world design of the said game, playing it the “4K60” way should be mind-blowing to gamers.

It is also clear is that, with the latest Xbox development, Sony has challenges to overcome when it comes to announcing the prices and offerings related to launching its two PlayStation 5 (PS5) consoles – one with a disc drive and the other without. $299 is a very hard launch price for Sony to match with the drive-less PS5, and it should be noted that PS5’s backward compatibility is limited to PS4 games (in other words, Mark Cerny and his team failed to find ways to make PS1-PS2-PS3 game discs play on their upcoming console). PS5 games look interesting but none of them convinced me to buy Sony’s new console. My choice is Xbox Series X because I know the exclusive games coming out in the next two years will be worth the wait plus I love the Gears of War, Halo and Forza Motorsport franchise of games. I also want the premium Xbox for my Blu-ray movie collection and, eventually, the start of a new collection of movies in 4K Blu-ray discs.

In ending this piece, I recommend you watch the videos from Dealer Gaming, Colteastwood and Digital Foundry.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com