I recently bought myself an XBox 360, and intended to hook it up to my HDTV for high-def video, and to my stereo for audio.
But my stereo is old, and doesn’t accept HDMI inputs. And my high-def TV doesn’t have audio output. So I needed two separate cables out of the XBox: one for video (the HDMI cable) and one for audio (analog 2-channel would do).
It never occurred to me that the XBox couldn’t do this, as I knew that it had several outputs on the back. I did know that an HDMI cable didn’t come with the XBox, but I had an extra one already. However, when I opened the XBox box, I found a couple of F-You’s from our pals at Microsoft:
First, the XBox came with a nonstandard “weird cable” adapter that goes from the XBox’s Weirdo Port (some elongated thing that I’m sure Microsoft has a name for but I’ve never seen before) to analog audio (left and right RCA cables, which is exactly what I needed for my stereo) plus crappy analog RCA video, which is useless and won’t allow for high def (or even reasonable video quality).
Secondly, although the XBox had both the Weirdo Port and a standard HDMI video port, these were directly one atop the other on the back of the XBox.
Thirdly, the F-You cable that Microsoft gave me was designed with an unreasonably fat piece of gray plastic at the end which completely covered the HDMI port, preventing me from plugging in both HDMI and Weirdo Port cables at the same time!
Naturally, in a final F-You, Microsoft offered to sell me an upgraded Weirdo Port cable that would split into both HDMI and analog audio. For $50. I should point out that eBay has similar adapters for about $10.
[I should point out that if I had surround sound on this particular system, I would have had to buy one of these adapters, since I'd have needed an optical Toslink connector rather than 2-channel RCA analog cables. But I didn't need that this time.]
But the heck with it: I figured that since I was going to be stuck with a useless Weirdo Port cable anyway, I might as well take the thing apart and see if I could make it fit with the HDMI at the same time.
Guess what? It worked! If you break off the grey plastic cover at the end of the F-You Weirdo Port cable, the actual metal part is nice and thin, and fits just fine with an HDMI cable. Both can be inserted at the same time, and both ports are completely active. Video goes out the HDMI port, and audio goes out the Microsoft-supplied F-You cable.
Tip for breaking off the gray plastic cover from Microsoft’s cable:
The sides of that hard plastic have a groove. I first tried to wrench them apart with a screwdriver, but that’s a losing proposition. Here’s the really simple way: if you have a vise in your workshop (you DO have a garage workshop, don’t you?) just gently use the vise and you can crack the plastic pieces apart like a walnut shell.
If you don’t happen to have a vise, I bet you could do the same thing with a pair of pliers. Or a few gentle taps with a hammer.
Anyway, you’ll be up and running in a few minutes, and save the money and aggravation.