Page 1 of 1: Using the Xbox 360 HD DVD Add-on Drive in Windows

Microsoft's Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on drive is a cheap way to start enjoying HD DVD movies. But the add-on drive has one feature that is most exciting for us PC users, one that Microsoft (for whatever reason) does not like to publicize (although they do provide drivers for it) - the Xbox 360 add-on drive can actually be used as an external HD DVD drive under Windows XP.

This short guide shows you how to get HD DVD playback going on your Windows PC using the Xbox 360 add-on drive and PowerDVD Ultra. Before you start this guide, you might want to read our Is your PC Blu-ray/HD DVD Ready? guide to get to know the requirements for playback (which unfortunately, are quite extensive). Please note that the instructions are for Windows XP - Windows Vista has native support for the Xbox 360 HD DVD drive, and most of the instructions (especially about install UDF 2.5 reader drivers) are unnecessary - you may need to run Windows Update in Vista though.

Software you'll need:

Hardware you'll need:

  • Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on drive


Start Windows (do no install PowerDVD Ultra just yet). Connect your Xbox 360 HD DVD drive to the power supply, and then connect the supplied USB cable to the drive and your computer. The "Found New Hardware" tray icon should show up (if not, make sure the power to the add-on drive is connected and that the USB cable is plugged in properly). The "Found New Hardware Wizard" should show up shortly and you should select one of the "Yes" options to use Windows Update to search for a device driver and press "Next" to continue.

Found New Hardware Wizard: Step 1

On the next screen, select "Install the software automatically" and press "Next" to continue.

Found New Hardware Wizard: Step 2

Windows will locate and install the drivers for you and Windows should now recognise the drive as the "Xbox 360 HD DVD Memory Unit/Device". Click "Finish" to close the "Found New Hardware Wizard".

Found New Hardware Wizard: Step 3

If you insert a HD DVD disc into the drive and try to use Explorer to browse it, you will most likely get an error message about corrupt files or invalid format. If you use PowerDVD Ultra to play the HD DVD movie, it will load, however. To fix this problem, we need to install the UDF 2.5 reader driver. First, download the driver and extract the RAR file to a folder. Go to the folder and right click on the "thdudf.inf" file, and select the "Install" option.

Install Driver

You will then need to restart your computer and if you browse the HD DVD disc again in Explorer, it should now show the content of the disc, as well as the disc title (as opposed to just "CD ROM").

HD DVD Content

With the drive plugged in and working, you can now install PowerDVD Ultra. As mentioned earlier, there are lots of requirements for HD DVD playback, and you need to read our Is your PC Blu-ray/HD DVD Ready? guide for more information. But to sum up, you need a fast CPU or a graphics card with high definition video acceleration. And if your monitor and video card are connected using DVI cables, you need both your video card and monitor to have HDCP support. And last but not least, you need graphics drivers that are supported by PowerDVD Ultra.

Without a HD DVD disc loaded, start PowerDVD Ultra. Press "CTRL-C" or click on the "Configuration" button on the right hand side of the playback controls. Go to the "HD DVD" section. Here, you have several HD DVD options you can configure. The "TwinFormat Preference" option specifies which format you wish to play if the disc has dual formats. The "Display Mode Preference" option asks you how to display the picture - select "HD" for full resolution playback, or one of the other options and selecting "Down convert to SD". The "Use HD DVD hotkeys" options enable some keyboard shortcuts for HD DVD - enabling this will disable some of PowerDVD's own shortcut keys. And finally, "Enable mouse in HD DVD" enables the mouse to be used to navigate HD DVD menus - when it is disabled, you can use your keyboard's arrow keys to navigate instead.

PowerDVD Ultra: HD DVD Settings

Now click on the "Video" tab. You should select the "Enable hardware acceleration" option, as this will help in decoding the video. There are also "Audio" settings you can configureClick "OK" to close the configuration window.

PowerDVD Ultra: Video Settings

You can now insert a HD DVD movie and test playback. Hopefully it should play, especially after you have ensured you've met all the requirements. If you get a black screen, try restarting PowerDVD Ultra. If it still does not play, install a different set of graphics card drivers and keep an eye on this AVS Forum thread for more hints on playback.

Got more questions? Post them in our Xbox 360 and High Definition DVD forums and get them answered by other expert users.