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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 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


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