You can play DVDs on the Xbox 360, just like you could on the original Xbox. There have been quite a few improvements to the experience on the 360, though.
The Xbox 360 plays DVD movies right out of the box—you don't have to purchase any additional accessory to watch them, unlike with the original Xbox which required an Xbox DVD Movie Playback Kit. Simply put a DVD into the drive, or start the Xbox 360 with a DVD in the drive, and it will start playing automatically. It will also bookmark your place when watching a DVD, so if you stop watching or even eject the DVD, the next time you play the movie it will resume from the point you left off during your last viewing.
Another improvement over the original Xbox is the Xbox 360's ability to upscale the DVD image so it will look better, also called progressive scan. It will upscale to 480p when using component cables to connect to your TV, and upscales to 720p, 1080i, or 1080p over HDMI or VGA cables (depending on your TV's available inputs, of course).
The Xbox 360 is also much quieter than the original Xbox when playing DVDs. When the Xbox 360 is playing a movie, it will switch to a quiet mode, lowering the speed of its cooling fan and the noise it produces.
Using the Xbox 360 Controller for DVD Playback
Your control playback with the Xbox 360 controller, using the direction pad to navigate and the A button to select, or an optional remote, such as the Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote.
DVD playback commands with the controller:
- Play or pause: START button.
- Back one chapter: LB (left button) or A, then select Skip Back.
- Forward one chapter: RB (right button) or A, then select Skip Forward.
- Fast forward: RT (right trigger).
- Rewind: LT (left trigger).
- List page up: RT.
- List page down: LT.
- Advanced playback controls: X, Y
Xbox 360 Vs. DVD Player
If the Xbox 360 can play DVDs, should you skip getting a DVD player? You can, but if you appreciate better image and sound quality, the Xbox 360 shouldn't really be used as a primary DVD player. A dedicated DVD player offers more features, better image, and sound quality, and you can get a good stand-alone upscaling DVD player for very little money.
You also don't really want to use the Xbox 360 (or any game system, really) as your primary movie player because it will cause your system to wear out faster. Also, while the Xbox 360 is quieter when playing DVDs than its predecessor, it still isn't silent. Using the Xbox 360 as a DVD player is fine if that's all you have, but it is better to have a separate DVD player if you plan on watching a lot of movies.