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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 bldckstark on 8/9/2006 12:35:31 PM , Rating: 2
EXACTLY XtremeM3. I own a 360, I won't pay PC prices for the PS3, I have a HDTV, I need a HD-DVD player and this is the cheapest one. I'm going to buy it, watch my HD movies (which are currently mostly analog filmed movies upsampled so they don't look so great anyway) and save myself $300 over buying the Toshiba. By the way, the noise doesn't bother me. With the 7.1 hooked up, I can hear anything but my movies.

By the way Gamepro (yes it's lame) magazine lists that 10 years ago Nintendo released the Nintendo 64 at $199 USD. They thought about $249, but decided that was too high. It sold more in one day than the Playstation did in three months. This was attributed to price. There were only two games available upon release, Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64. That makes the Wii cheaper than a 64 given inflation. The 360 is about the same as the 64 was 10 years ago, and the PS3 is significantly more. The 64 games were priced at $70. That means that, except for the Sony, gaming is cheaper now than it was 10 years ago.

I want Sony to succeed so there remain three players in the market, but I am concerned about their pricing. The Wii is going to fly off of shelves because of comparative pricing disadvantages to the other two.

I am buying a Wii (that name is horrible) for my kids. Anybody out there have young twin boys? I do, and the thought of them having virtual sword fights instead of real ones with sticks makes me think I will probably save $250 in emergency room bills.

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken

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