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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: Good move by MS
By rrsurfer1 on 8/9/2006 9:31:50 AM , Rating: 2
I agree that the add-on nature of the HDDVD player is a better business model because customers don't have to pay all at once.

I don't see Sony being able to do much with the added space of BluRay for gaming, which is the only advantage to their business model. Its possible they might end up using more than a DVD but it'll either be in-game video footage, or towards the end of the PS3 life cycle.

RE: Good move by MS
By therealnickdanger on 8/9/2006 10:59:43 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see Sony being able to do much with the added space of BluRay for gaming

If I could find the link, I remember Sony specifically stating that the Blu-Ray discs would not be used for games at all. They are "stuck" with DVD just like Microsoft... which obviously isn't stopping Microsoft from making games with stunning visuals and audio. There's plenty of space, plus there's a part of the Xbox360 patent that describes special compression algorithms to compress data at up to 1/1000th the size... what, specifically, that compresses, I don't know.

While I would prefer an all-in-one package like the PS3, I don't want to be forced into paying out the arse for it... like the PS3... When Microsoft stuffs the HD-DVD drive into the Xbox360 and both consoles sell for under $300, then we'll have something to talk about.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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