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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 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...

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