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Word on the street is that it will retail for around $200

Microsoft has again showed off its standalone HD DVD player for the XBOX 360. Whereas Sony decided to include its Blu-ray drive as standard equipment on the PlayStation 3, Microsoft decided not to force HD DVD on customers and instead provides it as an option. For those that choose to pursue that option, word on the street is that it will come in at around $200.

While some consumers may scoff at a $200 add-on for the XBOX 360, one must consider that set top HD DVD players are retailing for $430 to $500 while Blu-ray players cost anywhere from $840 to $1,000. For those that have an XBOX 360 and want to add high-definition movies to their library, it's a relatively cheap (all things considered) and simple upgrade. "Here's what I can tell you for sure; it's going to be the cheapest HD-DVD player you can buy without a doubt, when it comes out. I think it's going to be a great value... Everybody is very enthusiastic with the direction we're going. There are still a few surprises left. And I don't want to spill the beans yet, but I think people are going to think it's a great value," said Microsoft Larry Hyrb (aka Major Nelson). The low price tag can be attributed to the heavy lifting being performed by the XBOX 360 rather than the HD DVD drive. "All the audio and video processing is done inside the XBOX," said Microsoft senior program manager Kevin Collins.

As for the hardback book-sized drive itself, Microsoft showcased the device running "The Phantom of the Opera." The design of the drive, which has the internal codename of Sapphire, was all done in-house by Microsoft while Toshiba was selected to manufacture the drive. It will feature two USB 2.0 ports on the back to make up for the one USB port that the device itself uses. It also features the same cut-out on the back as the XBOX 360 to hold Microsoft’s XBOX 360 Wireless Networking Adapter if you chose to mount it there. The HD DVD interface, while not yet finished, was also on display. Gamerscore Blog has images posted of how it will look including an animated gif of it in action. The new interface basically replaces the "old" Open Tray button on the dashboard with a hybrid button that can toggle between DVD and HD DVD options with the up/down arrow keys. The drive will also be software updatable via XBOX Live so as new features are introduced, they can be automatically downloaded and applied.

Microsoft has revealed that it has some surprises in store for gamers during the fourth quarter. We know that one of them is the aforementioned HD DVD player and Gears of War. Hopefully, this isn’t all that Microsoft is planning and we’ll have even more to look forward to as the holiday season fast approaches.

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RE: If history repeat itself....
By Lonyo on 8/9/2006 7:46:15 AM , Rating: 2
It doesn't matter much though, because it doesn't change the console really.
It's just an optional extra for those who want a cheap upgrade.
If you have an XBox 360, why spend $500 for an HD-DVD player when you can spend $200 on an add-on for your XBox 360 and get an HD-DVD player...?

RE: If history repeat itself....
By bewster on 8/9/2006 10:47:34 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe you wanna spend $500 on a standalone player if it would allow you to hear what they are saying, since that would be impossible with the current noise level of the xbox 360.

By epsilonparadox on 8/9/2006 6:15:48 PM , Rating: 2
What current noise level??? I have a launch 360 and a surround sound system. If you purchase the addon or even a standalone, w/out a surround sound system, you're wasting your money. I don't hear my 360 above my games even if im going through the tv speakers.

RE: If history repeat itself....
By robber98 on 8/9/2006 11:48:16 AM , Rating: 3
Why spend $500 for a HD-DVD player? The answer is very simple: To eliminate background noise. XBox 360 doesn't has HDMI, which means it has to use DAC to convert signal to analog from digital. With so many electronic components packed within a small box, I doubt there is no picture quality degradation (Same problem happened on 1st gen PS2). Yes, it's not a bad price IF people already own XBox 360, but what's the point if the picture quality can't deliver what it supposes to? Currently, HD-DVD/Blue-ray are selling to enthusiastic and high-end market, which put video quality over the price, I don't think people who fall into these 2 categories will complaining about $500 price tag as long as they deliver the picture quality.

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