Despite being perfectly capable of outputting video in native frame rate, Xbox One is still locked at 60Hz for video playback via apps, resulting in judder, according to a report by IGN. The author has developed an app to shed light on the issue.
Judder in video playback
The Xbox One consoles are great for gaming and the most recent versions even have an UHD Blu-ray drive built-in. While frame rate switching works perfectly well for Blu-ray playback, Xbox One is locked at 60Hz for apps.
Andrea Minini Saldini, Publishing Editor for IGN Italy, decided to get to the bottom of the issue.
- “I decided to get to the bottom of this and started studying Microsoft’s developers documentation,” he wrote. “As such, I contacted an UWP (Universal Windows Platform) developer, Pasquale Pignataro, who kindly offered his collaboration to create a demo app, to illustrate the console capability.”
You can find the app (Test HDMI display modes) on the Microsoft Store but the takeaway here is that Xbox One is perfectly capable of switching frame rate mode to match the content. It already does for Blu-ray playback. However, app developers are refraining from taking advantage of the developer tools, meaning that all video apps are currently locked to 60Hz playback even when the content is stored in 25fps – and even when a user manually activates the “For games & apps allow 50Hz and/or 24Hz” function. This leads to visible judder during playback.
Andrea Saldini presented his findings to Microsoft and Netflix but there are currently no plans to alter the behavior. He also presented his findings to the developer of the myTube! app, an alternative for YouTube, who successfully implemented automatic refresh rate switching that will likely be rolled out in a future version of the app.
- “We can only hope that Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and others take advantage of these capabilities in the near future,“ Saldini concluded.
Video playback at native frame rate continues to be an issue on many TV platforms, mainly because the HDMI interface was not designed to switch frame rate on-the-fly. Google has implemented manual frame rate switching in the Chromecast dongle, and Apple recently addressed it on a system level in tvOS (for Apple TV) by adding an optional menu setting to match frame rate. The HDMI Forum is addressing the issue of short black screens whenever switching frame rate mode with QMS (Quick Media Switching) that is part of HDMI 2.1.