The original Xbox was an incredibly impressive bit of kit when it launched back in 2001, and at the time it was one of the most powerful gaming machines on the market. We've moved on a lot since then of course, but somewhat surprisingly, OG Xbox games actually hold up quite well in 2023. The biggest issue these days is getting games from the SD era to look good on a widescreen HDTV, and that's why effective & easy-to-use HDMI adapters are always something we're interested in taking a look at.

Enter the XBHD - EON's answer to this little modern gaming conundrum. The team's plug-and-play adapter for the original Xbox launched a few months ago, and we've taken a look at it recently to see how it performs across a variety of titles.

Now, we must start out by saying the XBHD only officially works with NTSC Xbox consoles. Stock PAL systems don't support higher definition video output, and unfortunately the XBHD can't be used as a straight HDMI passthrough in this case - you get no signal at all using this thing with a retail UK / European Xbox. This is a bit of a bummer but it's not really EON's fault - Microsoft simply didn't add as many display options to its OG Xbox consoles that were built for overseas markets.

When using this with a US NTSC console though, it does indeed work in a plug-and-play fashion. The little OG Xbox-themed adapter plugs right into the back of your console - taking up the system's standard video and ethernet slots on the back. The adapter then has two HDMI ports, three ethernet ports and one 3.5mm audio-out slot - making the XBHD a great option for connecting to multiple displays and other Xbox consoles in a LAN setting.

We used it for single-player gaming though, as we'd imagine most will in 2023, and the initial impression is quite strong. You get a good, clear image that works right out of the box - and when compared to what us PAL users are used to (a blurry 480i picture), it's a night-and-day difference. The XBHD does a solid job at unlocking those higher resolutions built into NTSC Xbox consoles, and it looks nice and sleek when plugged in; almost like a mini Xbox console inserted into the back of a proper one!

We didn't notice any real input lag using the XBHD, and the audio sounded solid to our ears too. We aren't massively competitive gamers or audiophiles by any means - but it all felt and sounded good to us in a single-player setting. We played some Halo, Forza Motorsport, Star Wars Battlefront, Need For Speed Underground 2, Project Gotham Racing and more - and they all played just like the do on native original Xbox outputs.

However, there are a few things that need to be mentioned with the XBHD. If you have a launch unit like ourselves, there's been an issue with brightness levels not being quite right on those units. EON says that this has been fixed on newer adapters — and you can even send your old one back to be updated/replaced — but our experience has been solely based on a launch unit we were given for review. There's no way for the user to apply firmware updates after purchase, but credit where credit's due, EON seems on top of things and will sort out any problems with older adapters if you're willing to send it back.

Having said that, we had an old 'Kaico' Xbox HD Adapter lying around that we decided to test right after using the XBHD, and that changed the game considerably. We'd used this thing before on PAL systems as a simple HDMI passthrough - the adapter works with UK consoles, but it still displays a 480i image. However, on plugging this thing into an NTSC console we were quite surprised with the results.

The Kaico adapter, which costs less than $50, works really well with American Xbox consoles. It displays in the same higher resolution as the XBHD does, and to our eyes, performs very similarly overall. Down below are two images - one showing Forza Motorsport running through our XBHD adapter, and then a similar shot using the Kaico adapter:

Of course, the brightness issue is on show here and newer XBHD units will look much more like what the Kaico is displaying, but when it comes to the quality of the HD picture, we're struggling to find much of a difference. And that's the thing - ultimately, the XBHD just isn't worth the cost of entry to us. Maybe if you're someone who wants to use two displays or connect multiple Xbox consoles together in a LAN setting the updated XBHD box provides good value, but for single-player gaming the Kaico version gets the job done. The fact that the Kaico adapter also works as a HDMI passthrough on stock PAL systems while the XBHD provides no signal in that scenario is another bonus for the cheaper adapter!

So, while the original Xbox deserves an HD glow-up these days, we just can't recommend the XBHD as the best option to do so. It's a cool bit of kit, and those with an eye for the most minute of audiovisual detail may notice an improvement over existing adapters on the market, but we couldn't. If you're someone that's keen on the multi-display and multi-ethernet functionality afforded by the XBHD then an updated unit may be worth a look, but for our money, more affordable options are out there that still do a very good job of bringing HDMI support to the OG Xbox.

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Tempted to revisit the past and grab an Xbox HD adapter? Drop your thoughts down below.