Halo 3 AV Calibration Disc Review sans Blue Filter

If you haven’t popped in the bonus disc for Bungie’s Halo 3 for Xbox 360 you are missing out on an entertaining way to calibrate your Home theater…  Not a particularly effective method. But an entertaining way to configure your HDTV screen.

If you plopped down the extra $10 for the Halo Tin, and you didn’t end up with a scratched version of the disc, you can use the bonus disc to optimize your display for Halo 3.  Note: you will be screwing up your display for everything not written by Bungie, but why would you play anything that isn’t Halo?

Creating a good AV calibration tool is difficult. Making one that works for the masses as opposed to the High End AV guys who have a Nit meter and spend hours tuning their setups presents its own challenges. The Halo AV Tool doesn’t give you the tools you need to have a good calibration experience, mainly the $.05 piece of blue plastic required for tuning saturation and tint.

Halo 3 LE with AV Calibration on the Bonus Disc if it is not scratched Without this blue “filter” you are only able to tune the brightness, contrast, and sharpness on your HDTV screen.  And none of these tests are particularly well made.  The brightness patterns suggest that you run the brightness up until a contrasting line starts to bend.  I assume they mean if you have a CRT, because no amount of brightness will cause a line to bend on an Lcos, LCD, DLP, or Plasma TV; attempting to get to that level of brightness will cause your Plasma to have some fun permanent burn in. 

The Contrast pattern suffered from a similar problem in that the first step was to run the contrast to max and then scale down.  This isn’t the way you should actually tune your display because you are supposed to be shooting for 1200:1 contrast ratio. Starting at the MAX on some displays you are going to end up with a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, which will make your display look bright, but will not make movies look the way they were meant to look. You will see every artifact in your DVD’s and will likely find the Square blocks around stars at night annoying, especially if you use the same input on your HDTV (or your Display only has one set of calibrations for all inputs) when watching digital cable.

The Sharpness test would only be helpful if you had set your sharpness far too high and were experiencing over-sharpening artifacts.  It was not fine enough edges packed close enough together to test for under sharpening.  This is likely because it is one test for all resolutions. As opposed to a test for each resolution which is actually required for Sharpness calibration.

The Pixel Aspect Ratio test while valid didn’t tell you how to change from 4:3 to 16:9 in the video settings for your Xbox 360, so if the shields didn’t show up as circles there was no guidance on how to solve the problem.

The calibration disc could have been infinitely more valuable if Microsoft had done a promotion with Best Buy, or Burger King, or well anyone who has a store in most US zip codes, so that you could go pick up a Whopper and get a 5 cent piece of blue plastic.

The Bungie store is going to Sell the Blue filter, but we don’t know for how much and at anything more than the price of a stamp it would be more than it is worth.

The Surround Sound Test was amusing, but it didn’t bother to tell you that you wouldn’t get surround if you were using the Dual RCA connectors (or if you use the built-in speakers on the HDTV). The speaker channel test went by so fast you wouldn’t be able to tell if your speaker placement was correct or not.

There was also no phase testing so if you have your speakers mis-wired you would still be able to “pass” even though you might have some dead frequencies when a sound was present in two or more channels.

All in all I don’t think this test warrants the extra $10, or the hassle of sending in for your replacement scratched disc which is free for the LE discs.