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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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RE: Good all the way around
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 10/22/2007 8:11:01 AM , Rating: 5
Microsoft won't release games on HD DVD's. It will be a movie only thing.


RE: Good all the way around
By Polynikes on 10/22/2007 8:25:22 AM , Rating: 2
You think (or know?) they'll just use multiple DVDs instead of putting games on HDDVD? I suppose that would prevent problems with users who don't have the HDDVD player, but I think eventually they're gonna have to switch formats. Maybe not until the XBox 1080.


RE: Good all the way around
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 10/22/2007 8:41:42 AM , Rating: 3
Theres also cost. It's cheaper to use DVD 9's than Blu Ray or HD DVD. Now HD DVD Media is cheaper, you won't notice since they are price fixing (Verbatim and others). Go to the store, and check out a blank HD DVD or Blu Ray, same price, even though the HD DVD is much cheaper to produce.


RE: Good all the way around
By XtremeM3 on 10/23/2007 1:09:35 AM , Rating: 2
Oh I agree, and don't expect to see any HD-DVD games anytime soon. However, you said it yourself. It is cheaper to produce HD-DVD, so they could actually do it sooner. MS can produce the games on HD-DVD much cheaper than you or I could buy blank media. Also, I think it's safe to assume that the price will go down over time(as does any tech) and it will become more feasible over time to use HD-DVD media for games. I'm just saying that it will be an option for MS a couple of years down the road. Also in a few years I'm sure the cost of the add-on will drop as well becoming an even more attainable device, so I think we may see the option of using HD-DVD for games.

Again, I see all this as good. Games will get bigger, it's just a given. With HD content, and more high quality audio used in each game, there is only so much compression one can do. Just like 1 floppy wasn't enough, and led to multiple floppies, then CDs and DVDs.

I would like to see the integrated HD-DVD player in the 360 just for that purpose. That and the add-on, while it does provide decent HD-DVD playback (I have used a couple of Toshiba models as well), can be a bit unsightly in some entertainment centers. Purely asthetic, but still an issue to some.

Jeff


RE: Good all the way around
By UNCjigga on 10/22/2007 10:56:35 AM , Rating: 4
Read between the lines--MS and Toshiba will NOT be positioning this new device as another Xbox 360 SKU--it sounds like they've got broader plans. From the article it sounds like this will be a completely different device, without the iconic look of the Xbox 360 (probably a horizontal device to integrate with other home theater components.)

Rather than selling this as an Xbox, they'll probably position it as a Toshiba entertainment hub with HD-DVD, IPTV, DVR and Media Center Extender (oh and it also plays X360 games.) I wouldn't be surprised if this new device incorporated a larger hard drive for DVR and IPTV (remember the AT&T deal in the works?) and MS will probably launch it with an expanded online media catalog (imagine the MS version of iTunes with WMV HD content.)


RE: Good all the way around
By Locutus465 on 10/22/2007 11:20:36 AM , Rating: 2
You mean video market place?


RE: Good all the way around
By UNCjigga on 10/22/2007 12:35:22 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, but with a *LOT* more content. And I'm not sure they'll keep the Video Marketplace interface if it isn't a true "Xbox" device--they might change the UI and make it more consumer-friendly.


RE: Good all the way around
By Locutus465 on 10/22/2007 1:03:22 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, they could use more content... Really not sure what MS is waiting on since it's a great service otherwise... Season 4 of enterprise would be nice :( And if they go ahold of battlestar in HD... oooo that would be nice...


RE: Good all the way around
By kristof007 on 10/22/2007 1:16:26 PM , Rating: 2
Haha 1080. I think this is going to be a good move and shows planning on Microsofts' part. They excluded from the machine therefore being able to make the 360 cheaper then the PS3. I definitely think that they will use multiple DVDs if they have to.

I just bought the Orange Box for the PC and that has 5 games on 2 DVDs. So yea I think the multiple DVD-9 format is definitely feasible.


RE: Good all the way around
By KiDDGuY on 10/22/07, Rating: -1
RE: Good all the way around
By Egglick on 10/22/2007 8:57:01 AM , Rating: 4
I agree. A game on HD-DVD would be unusable on all older X360 models. They'll never do it.


RE: Good all the way around
By totallycool on 10/22/2007 9:47:31 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, But then they could do an dual format release. Just for the sake of pushing HD-DVD.

What i am saying is microsoft has many options with hddvd, without breaking the old 360s


RE: Good all the way around
By softwiz on 10/22/2007 10:20:17 AM , Rating: 2
Why would it be unusable?

Couldn't you just purchase the add-on to solve that problem?

If there was a dashboard update necessary, then you'd just download and apply it. For those unable to download it, you'd likely use a disc.

If people decide that they shouldn't have to or don't want to purchase the add-on separately then those are separate issues.


RE: Good all the way around
By daftrok on 10/22/2007 11:20:13 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah lets make the consumer cough up 179 bucks added to their console just to play games in the future. Even MS isn't that retarded.


RE: Good all the way around
By Locutus465 on 10/22/2007 11:23:21 AM , Rating: 2
There's already a decent number of HD-DVD add ons in the market place, so it wouldn't be as bad as say... the PS2 hard drive... Providing the option would be nothing but good... This could only be bad if MS started mandating all games be released on HD-DVD... But allowing for an HD-DVD Halo 3 Ultimite Limited Edition wouldn't be bad (and would scew HD-DVD media charts)...


RE: Good all the way around
By timmiser on 10/22/2007 5:34:30 PM , Rating: 2
All the HD-DVD drive for the Xbox 360 is is a pass through HD player. Games don't work on it and there is no reason to think that an HD-DVD would work on this drive as far as I can tell. I believe they would need to redesign the Xbox 360HD with an integrated HD-DVD drive to get HD-DVD games to work on it.


RE: Good all the way around
By Locutus465 on 10/22/2007 11:39:16 PM , Rating: 2
This drive operates as an optical drive like any other? Perhaps your confusing the fact that it can't operate as a stand alone player? The way HD-Playback works with the drive is the 360 uses it to read off HD-DVD information, then processes the video/audio using the buit in 3 core IBM processor... No reason in the world why it can't read game data off the drive..


RE: Good all the way around
By timmiser on 10/23/2007 2:35:02 PM , Rating: 2
I was a bit unclear, my point is that if they make an integrated HD-DVD drive in the X360 and then start making games on HD-DVD discs, those of us with the HD-DVD add on drive still won't be able to play the HD-DVD game.


RE: Good all the way around
By softwiz on 10/22/2007 1:43:06 PM , Rating: 2
I can't see it being any worse than Sega selling the 32X Genesis add-on. If you wanted to play the CD based games, you had to pony up. Before any one suggests that why it failed, I disagree. Sega had bigger problems than this.

It sounds like you feel you should be entitled to make use of anything either MS or a third party put on the market in the future. Unfortunately reality doesn't work that way.

When you buy a product, you're paying for what the manufacturer claims the product can do at that time. Any additional functionality added for free is a bonus but you shouldn't feel entitled to it since it likely was never promised at the time of purchase. To think otherwise seems rather spoiled IMO. However, if they simply stopped making DVD based games altogether then that I'd agree that would be bad but until that happens complaining about it is fairly unnecessary.


RE: Good all the way around
By Locutus465 on 10/22/2007 10:56:05 AM , Rating: 2
It would be silly of MS not to allow games to be released on HD-DVD... This would take care of the UT3 issue, at least the storage issue... Epic is still trying to claim that PS3 is some how more open than X-Box, but frankely I'm a little dubious of that claim considering anyone in the world can develop and distribute x-box games for a very low yearly fee... Considering MS went that far I have a very hard time beleiving they're giving epic a hard time with user editable game maps (Halo 3 anyone?)

Over all this is going to be a good move for MS, if they can integrate HD-DVD and keep prices constant it will really put the PS3 down another notch which is nothing but good for Microsoft Game Studios. I'm not sure whether or not this stradegy will help out Toshiba or not though... Perhaps a bit in that people buying the x-box for might then decided "what the heck, I'll get movies"... But the reason why PS3 is helping BlueRay so much is because it's still the cheapest Blueray player... On the HD side you can already get the A2 for less than the cost of a Core system ($250).


RE: Good all the way around
By Locutus465 on 10/22/2007 10:58:26 AM , Rating: 2
Ah... Though I did just have one thought... When they're tallying up Blueray v. HD-DVD sales do they include games released in that media? If so there's a huge reason to start releasing games on HD-DVD right there.


"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes














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