Following on from the duo’s brilliant GameCube HD and Super64 adapter, the retro console engineers at EON Gaming have once again created one of the best ways of playing a retro console on a modern display: the EON XBHD adapter.
As one of the first consoles to support HD output, the original Xbox is a console trapped in time. Some games, like Enter the Matrix, have the ability to output a remarkably crisp 1080i signal, but their high resolutions are trapped behind aging component cables that are becoming increasingly difficult to find.
That’s where EON comes in. Following the success of its Nintendo-focused adapters, the XBHD aims to output the highest quality video signal from Microsoft’s original behemoth, but it falls short of the standard you’d expect from a device of this price range.
The EON XBHD adapter is remarkably simple-to-use. It’s as plug-and-play as a video adapter could possibly be. Simply slap it into the back of your 20-year-old console’s video-out and Ethernet ports and you get a larger variety of modern outputs so that you can connect it to modern displays
We’re not just talking about a single HDMI-out here either - there’s two. Designed for content creators and streamers, the second HDMI port allows you to connect a capture card to stream content without interrupting the quality of your TV’s passthrough, decreasing input lag.
Additionally, the EON XBHD adapter converts the console’s single Ethernet port into four, making this the de facto all-in-one device for LAN parties or convention setups. Brilliantly, everything is plug and play, sliding into the retro behemoth with a satisfying clunk and perfectly fitting with the machine’s design language. (For more on how the XBHD was made, check out this EON Gaming interview here).
For the most part, the video coming out of the XBHD is fantastic. For those with NTSC Xbox consoles (or softmodded PAL ones), high resolution Xbox games sing through the adapter’s TV signal. Games like Freedom Fighters and Evil Dead Regeneration are drop dead gorgeous in their native 720p output, and Enter the Matrix’s 1080i playback is phenomenal.
Even lower resolution games, such as the notoriously soft Halo 2 or Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay are great here. With 1:1 pixel output, the same as you’d expect from a Framemeister, you’re getting almost flawless playback on your display of choice.
However, “almost flawless” is the sticking point here. Unfortunately, EON Gaming’s XBHD adapter does have one major issue not found in the company’s prior adapters. In my experience, playback on a modern TV is flawless with great quality output, vivid colours and near-perfect black levels. But, when connected to a capture card for video and screenshot purposes, the colour science and brightness levels are weirdly different.
Other creators have also verified this. Retro gaming expert MVG noted in his coverage of the device that brightness levels overall are greatly lower than they should be. While we did experience the same sort of issue in our testing, our results in games such as Halo 2 are far less dark than that of other content creators. Nevertheless, the issue is there, and for a device designed for recording and streaming content, it’s a huge fault.
It’s not the end of the world for most devices, but with the already gasp-worthy price tag of $190 USD, the EON Gaming XBHD adapter can’t afford to fail. While the adapter is the best all-rounder accessory for Microsoft’s juggernaut, it also fails in ways that cheaper adapters — such as Electron Shepherd's Xbox2HDMI dongle do not.
There are also some minor issues that aren’t at the fault of EON. For example, a small handful of titles such as Fable, Jet Set Radio Future and more cannot output at 480p via certain console revisions. Obviously, there’s nothing EON can do hardware-wise to circumvent a 20-year-old console issue, but it’s worth mentioning.
Nevertheless, EON’s adapter is a great piece of kit, especially if the team can fix this bizarre brightness issue in future models. The team has shown willingness to fix products in the past — the GCHD Mark II offered myriad improvements over the original — but at the time of writing it is sadly difficult to recommend.
The best part of the EON XBHD adapter is how it unlocks your Xbox in the easiest way possible. There’s no mess of wires, no finicky dongles, or other annoying additions. It’s as plug and play as you’d expect from EON’s history of adapters, even if it does have a glaring brightness issue that seems to vary by adapter.
EON Gaming’s XBHD adapter was always hard to recommend at its price, but it’s even harder to recommend with the current issues it has. Nevertheless, it’s still a great piece of kit that I do prefer to its alternatives. Even with its minor video issues, it’s still one of the most premium Xbox accessories on the modern market.
If you want the best possible HDMI signal out of your original Xbox, you’ll likely want to invest in a HDMI-modded system. If you want the same without a hard mod, you’ll want to get a simple HDMI2Xbox dongle. On the other hand, if you want the best possible all-round addition to your Microsoft Xbox without cutting into the hardware, EON Gaming once again has the best solution on the market.
Sadly, EON Gaming hasn’t done it again, as there are better options for individual Xbox purposes. However, the group’s XBHD adapter is still a fantastic piece of kit that will make a fine addition to any Xbox fanboy’s collection. If you’re looking for pixel-perfect, flawlessly accurate video, you’d won’t find it here — a surprise given EON’s past — but if you want to take your Xbox to the next level, this is for you.