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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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bad idea
By mmichii on 10/22/2007 8:28:59 AM , Rating: 2
i bought the hd-dvd drive for 360 and i still plan on getting the samsung bd-up5000 when it comes out. these might be small details but they're significant when it comes to those of us willing to pay for these high def formats.

they are 1)hdmi 1.3a with a chipset that can output bitstream True-hd and Master audio (not core) 2) internal decoding of aforementioned formats to both linear pcm and analog 7.1 outputs(for those like me not wanting to pay for another receiver) 3)support for 1080p/24. 4)upscaling using a quality chipset like reon hqv (samsung, onkyo)

360 can't even output true-hd in linear pcm and when i play mp3's and cd's it resamples them to 48khz. it won't play anything but wmv video files. so i really don't see the media hub concept here nor do i see myself wanting buy it for its hd-dvd capabilities. Being microsoft i don't think this new console will be any more of a capable player than the present 360. ps3 is a little better but the only way to hear true-hd is to pipe it to a receiver using lpcm and the hdmi chipset is incapable of bitstream encoding. it supposedly will get dts-ma in a future firmware but i wouldn't hold your breath.

don't get me wrong i love it for its intended purpose despite the fact the only way i've kept it alive is by massive modification. all i'm saying is that people who buy it as an entry level player are going to be sorely disappointed by the things it can't do.




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