Microsoft announced earlier today on the official Xbox website details
on its long-awaited HD-DVD add-on peripheral
for the Xbox 360, which promises
to bring HD-DVD movie playback capabilities to the next-gen game console.
Though Microsoft still did not set a firm release date nor announced pricing
for the add-on, the extensive statement -- released to coincide with
next week's annual E3 convention -- includes a primer on the benefits of HD-DVD,
as well as comments from Xbox Director of Global
Marketing Albert Penello, who answers long-standing questions about the company's high-def DVD strategy
-- as well as taking plenty of swipes at rival high-def DVD format Blu-Ray.
"Before January's CES trade show and before price announcements starting
to come out, a lot of press and analysts were ready to declare HD-DVD as DOA,"
commented Penello. "But we had really good insights into how these two
matched up and we kept learning about technical problems with Blu-Ray. Now that
both sides are laying their cards on the table, the word is getting out that
HD-DVD is the best value."
According to the website statement, the new HD-DVD accessory will connect to
the Xbox 360 console with a USB cable, enabling it to harness the power of the
Xbox 360 console for the playback of high-def video and audio. Exact technical
specs on the add-on, however, including maximum resolution it can output and
what audio formats its supports, were not yet released.
Penello states that one of the main reasons Microsoft has thrown its support
behind HD-DVD is due to its lower cost, which the company feels will be its
key attraction to consumers turned off by the high player prices of Blu-Ray
and the fact that both formats provide the same performance levels of video
and audio quality.
"There aren't any Blu-ray players available to test, but if you compare
the requirements on paper it's going to be a wash in terms of video quality,"
continued Penello. "At Microsoft, we've known that for some time. But the
major difference is going to be price, and all the leading indicators point
to HD-DVD winning."
Microsoft is also confident that the success of its HD-DVD add-on for the Xbox
360 will help turn the tide of studio favor in support of HD-DVD, who have sided
almost exclusively in the Blu-Ray camp (only three major studios have so far
announced HD-DVD releases, including Universal, Warner and Paramount).
"The momentum is with HD-DVD," said Penello. "Eventually, we
feel all the studios will support HD DVD, perhaps not exclusively. But the studios
are too savvy to leave money on the table."