Microsoft will launch the HD DVD add-on for the XBOX 360 in Japan for around $170 USD

Microsoft's HD DVD add-on has been garnering a lot of attention recently as more details have started to pour out. The fervor surround the external HD DVD drive reached a head when it was rumored last month that the drive would indeed retail for right around the $200 mark. Today Microsoft not only announced that the XBOX 360 would receive 1080p support, but that the Japanese price for its most prized XBOX 360 add-on will be 19,800 yen (around $170 USD). Microsoft also stated that the drive would launch in Japan on November 17 and that it will include an XBOX 360 universal remote.

As stated in DailyTech's previous articles, the drive comes with two USB ports on the back of the back to make up for the USB port taken up on the back of the XBOX 360 console. There's also a cut-out on the back to hold your XBOX 360 Wireless Networking Controller (for those of you that forked over $99 for the privilege). The HD DVD drive will also be banking on ATI's H.264 decoder for the playback of high-definition content. The decoder, which uses ATI's Avivo technology, will rely on the XBOX 360's GPU to accelerate video processing. By off-loading much of the heavy lifting to the XBOX 360 itself, it allows Microsoft to make the external HD DVD cheaper to produce, thus passing the savings on to the consumer. For example, current set-top HD DVD players range from $400 to $500.

Microsoft’s approach to next generation DVD technology is completely opposite from Sony. Whereas Microsoft has decided to go for a lower price of entry with its XBOX 360 and give its users the choice of adding an HD DVD player for high definition content only, Sony has decided to build its PlayStation 3 around Blu-ray technology regardless of whether consumers choose the $499 or $599 version of the console. It has already been stated that Sony’s PS3 is more important as a launch vehicle for Blu-ray than for next generation gaming. Blu-ray has backing from 20th Century Fox, Lions Gate Home Entertainment, MGM, Paramount Pictures, The Walt Disney Company and Warner Brothers, while HD DVD has support from Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers.

Microsoft’s XBOX 360 HD DVD announcement comes at a time when Sony is scrambling to get through production problems with its PS3 console. Production has been hampered by problems manufacturing blue laser diodes necessary for Blu-ray drive included on both 20GB and 60GB versions of the PS3.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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