Microsoft Unveils Xbox 360 HD DVD Drive; Hints at Pricing

Posted Tue Aug 8, 2006 at 12:21 PM PDT by
Xbox 360 & HD-DVD Add-On Drive In the first public demo of the Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on, Microsoft previewed the highly-anticipated peripheral during the Entertainment Media Expo late yesterday, as well trumpeting the device's expected low price.

Microsoft senior program manager Kevin Collins premiered the smallish, rectangular device, which also mirrors its console sibling's gray architectural design, at the show by playing clips from Warner Home Video's 'Phantom of the Opera' HD DVD, as well as illustrating how the console's game controller could access disc menu options and other functions.

Though Microsoft has yet to announce confirmed pricing or a specific street date for the peripheral, Collins indicated that the add-on "will be the cheapest HD DVD player on the market for consumers who already own an Xbox 360 console."

Collins also cited Microsoft internal research that indicated that 64 percent of Xbox 360 users "already have the [high-def] display technology to support HD DVD. This [the add-on] will keep [consumers'] costs down."

Further hints at the company's pricing plans for the peripheral also came by way of the most recent episode of the podcast from Major Nelson (aka Larry Hryb, Microsoft's director of programming for Xbox Live). Nelson had members of the Xbox HD DVD team on his show, including Microsoft's director of global marketing, Albert Penello, who dropped a few hints that the add-on will be the cheapest HD DVD player yet to hit the market.

"Here's what I can tell you for sure -- it's going to be the cheapest HD-DVD player you can buy... without a doubt," said Penello. "Everybody is very enthusiastic with the direction we're going... I think people are going to think it's a great value."

Penello also had time to throw a few digs at the Sony PlayStation 3 and Blu-ray camp, underlining Microsoft strategy towards high-def movie playback on the XBox 360.

"Xbox has always been about choice. It's always been about 'How do you want to game? How do you want to get online? How do you want to communicate with people?'" rallied Penello. "Now we're going to say, 'How do you want to pick your next-generation DVD format?' We're not forcing consumers to buy something that may be obsolete, or forcing them to spend a lot of money on something they don't want. We're not betting our whole console on an unproven media format."
Tags: Hardware, Microsoft, Xbox 360, High-Def Gaming (all tags)