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Someday, these two may become one
Toshiba and Microsoft cooking up new HD DVD-enabled Xbox

For better or worse, some consumers are purchasing a PlayStation 3 not for its gaming abilities, but rather its Blu-ray Disc movie playback functionality. While Sony’s gaming division may prefer that its customers be gamers, the bottom line is that those interested in just Blu-ray Disc movies will give Sony another notch in the sales and installed base column – a phenomenon not unlike with DVD during the launch of the PlayStation 2.

With high-definition format crown still up for grabs, both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc camps are doing whatever they can to gain the advantage. Microsoft and Toshiba, the two main pillars of HD DVD, are reportedly working on a new entertainment set-top box that will integrate the gaming functions of the Xbox 360 and the movie playback functions of a Toshiba HD DVD player, according to Smarthouse.

The new device is supposedly being developed in response to Sony’s myriad of entertainment features on the PlayStation 3, driving the sales of Blu-ray Disc software.

Oddly enough, a recent study says that most gamers are clueless about the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 high-definition features, bringing into question the argument of consoles driving high-definition media sales.

“An Xbox with a built in HD DVD drive is critical,” a senior Toshiba executive in Singapore told the website. “They and we are working onit. It also has to be more than a gaming machine. Microsoft recognises this.”

As a full-featured entertainment hub, such a product would appeal to a broader market than just those in Microsoft’s current Xbox target audience. In fact, a Toshiba machine with similarly wide capabilities may hit the market. “A version of the device may also be sold under the Toshiba brand name,”added the Toshiba executive.

While current Xbox 360 owners may add HD DVD playback capabilities to their consoles with a $179 add-on drive, overall penetration of high-definition movies into Xbox gamers has been less than stellar. With an estimated 155,000 units HD DVD add-on drives sold in the U.S. through mid-year, Microsoft and Toshiba maybe looking into ways of getting the high-definition gaming crowd into movies.The answer may be in Sony’s strategy.

Sony has once dabbled before in releasing a consumer-centric entertainment machine based on its games console. Released only in Japan, the PSX was a set-top box with PVR and PS2 capabilities built-in. The PSX was reserved for the higher-end home entertainment purposes, but never quite found its market.

Xbox 360 gamers afraid that a new machine would make their current systems obsolete have little to worry about, however, as Microsoft has said on multiple occasions that its Xbox 360 games will never require an HD DVD drive.

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Not bad...
By Mithan on 10/22/2007 7:48:09 AM , Rating: 2
I was already thinking of upgrading my 360 to a .65nm version with a 120 gig drive, primarily for the HDMI port, bigger hard drive AND the more reliable system, but now I hear about this rumor? Sigh. Well, if its rumored, we know its true, just like the last 10 "rumors" for the 360 that turned out to be true.

Now some of you will say "just get the HD-DVD addon", well, thats the point. I have a kick ass home theater system and since I own a PS3, I am more in the Blu-Ray camp. However, I wouldn't mind owning a HD-DVD but I don't feel like buying a Toshiba HD-DVD player OR the cheaper HD-DVD addon drive with its lesser quality. However, I wouldn't mind a 360 with a built in HD-DVD, since it saves hardware clutter, cables, etc, etc.

One thing is for sure though, I think the age of static consoles is probably at an end .

I mean, the 360 and PS3 have both undergone significant changes in hardware since they were released, though obviously the core systems have remained the same, but still. Even the Wii is said to be getting a new version that plays DVD's soon and there were even rumors of a Hi-Def Wii at some point, though that would probably be a new Wii overall so you probably can not include it.

Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the next console generation after this one aims to bring Trip Hawkins long dead 3D0 phylosophy back of having "one platform" with different creators. The hardware makers will no doubt be against it, but I can see the Developers pushing for this at some point as the cost of making games seems to sky rocket with each new generation.

Yes, I went off track...

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