Nestled snugly inside one of the many banes of my life, clamshell packaging, gold-plated connectors shining in the dull, artificial light of my crowded and messy bedroom, cable coiled up as a snake ready to pounce, lay the grand, the magnificent…Snakebyte Premium Component Cable.
Languishing on my bed considering features to include and methods through which to test my newly acquired bit of hardware (who doesn’t like a bit o’hardware?), I decided that the only way to give a comprehensive view of the product was to get a comprehensive experience of using the product, from opening to output and unbundling to utterances of awe at the quality of image (or indeed, spat mutterings of distaste), all had to be covered and addressed for your reading pleasure, so feel appreciative!
First up was the unpacking, and upon seeing the clamshell arrangement of deadly, brittle plastic and predicted the array of cuts and scratches that would ensue, I prepared myself with the tools of the trade. Scissors, bandages, morphine. It was all there. Meticulously I scored a line down the side and pried off the casing, which saw fit to break into an unfathomable sum of flying pieces of plastic-shrapnel. Upon this, I abandoned my reserved, conservative plan of being gentle and instead went for the rather more Spartan approach of cutting holes and gauging at the plastic until the desired fruit of my labours, the cable, was excavated.
After a short, yet hard-earned, tea break, It was time to plug the cable in. The setup I was using to test the image was my Xbox 360 with a 720p HD projector. To fully utilise the given system, I decided to watch a HD-DVD aswell as playing a range of games. Deliberating over the choice of movie, based entirely on personal preference with no technical consideration made, I finally landed on Batman Begins as that illustrates aptly the advantages of HD video. For the games, I used the gamers’ favourite – Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Halo 3, along with Devil May Cry 4, selected for the beautiful cinematic sequences.
To the testing! Disk in HD-Drive, popcorn in the microwave, I prepared to settle down to TWO sessions of Batman Begins. Starting with the default cable supplied with most Xbox packages, I set a benchmark from which I could compare the two different cables. Starting the second viewing, I could instantly recognize a difference in the picture. Not strictly in quality, but in contrast and other details that make up the profile of a picture setup. The image on the Snakebyte cable was noticeably brighter, without any of the projector settings being altered. The colours were more vibrant, which was a nice change, but they also looked more tired and faded, leaving the Microsoft cable giving the richer image.
Having no 1080p device with which to test the full capabilities of the cable, I cannot give a verdict on its performance in that resolution band, but under 720p settings, the Snakebyte cable’s differences in quality were largely subjective. Personally I prefer more subdued, richer colours to vibrant, faded colours, but as that is a personal preference, some people may find the colours and image of the Snakebyte cable more to their liking.
Other than the aforementioned changes, there was little to noticably differentiate between the two in terms of the HD-DVD movie image, with both performing excellently well in providing a splendidly sharp image and realistic tones and colours.
The next measure of testing was concerning what, for most people, is the most important feature of the Xbox 360 and its main function – games. Playing Call of Duty 4, Halo 3 and Devil May Cry 4 on both cables proved a somewhat refreshing task, much more interesting than watching the same movie twice! Once again the same differences involving the colour/contrast emerged but with the crisp graphics of the three games, the picture seemed more defined on the third party cable. Boasting gold contacts on its connectors, the Snakebyte cable should offer less loss than the Microsoft cable. Other than this, any other differences are negligible to my eye, and most likely the eyes of many a gamer.
In all frank honesty, while there are minor differences between the two cables, they would not warrant the purchase price, £14.99, of the Snakebyte cable, unless the user had no video cable. If a blind test were carried out between the two cables, one would not be able to tell the diference, and I only managed to distinguish because I already knew the two different cables.
In a final summary regarding the value that one might place on the cable, it is important to consider that for the (very) minor improvements alone, it is not worth a buy, but if you are a new Xbox user trying to buy all the bits second hand or seperately, then the Snakebyte Premium Component Cable may just be for you.