For various scheduling reasons, it was another two weeks before I could get back to the lab. And when I did - relief - the super download was done. Except, again, the movie wouldn't play ("corrupt ..." "expired ... " yada yada yada). This time, the MS support phone guy insisted the movie had indeed expired because I began my download more than 14 days earlier.
And so ... again ...
Superman Returns ... Finally
At last, after three downloads, I returned several days later to find the movie waiting for me. (Well, 94% of it, anyway - enough so Xbox would let me hit Play.) The results were underwhelming. And I'm just talking about my first pass-through, where I compared the download to a mere 1080i Blu-ray signal. As high-def pictures go, the movie - played through the Xbox component-video connection (the console has no HDMI output) looked okay enough. But you sure didn't need X-ray vision to see it paled in comparison with its Blu-ray brother. Right away, there were slight color issues - I saw hints of purple in the Warner Bros. logo clouds and in the opening title sequence that weren't visible on the Blu-ray version. In fact, the color seemed a skooch less saturated in general. Brightness levels, meanwhile, clearly couldn't compete, and contrast levels also seemed below par.
Other observations: The download looked softer than the Blu-ray version (though, considering how grainy the indoor scenes were at the Kent farm on Blu-ray, this could sometimes be an advantage). The download also exhibited macroblocking in some action scenes, such as when Superman rescued the shuttle-launching airplane, while Blu-ray handled them flawlessly. Finally, the download occasionally suffered from banding, such as in the skies when Superman took Lois Lane for a night-fly.
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