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Microsoft XBox (Games) Hardware

HD-DVD Confirmed For Xbox 360 260

JorgeDeLaCancha writes "Microsoft has recently confirmed plans to bring an external HD-DVD drive to the Xbox 360. This has been previously speculated numerous times, with Bill Gates himself stating 'future versions of Xbox 360 will incorporate an additional capacity of an HD-DVD player.' Do consumers even want another format war?"
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HD-DVD Confirmed For Xbox 360

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  • by DoorFrame ( 22108 ) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @12:33PM (#14400980) Homepage
    No, of course consumers don't want another format war. However, consumers don't get to directly decide which formats companies choose to put forth. Just because consumers don't want a format war doesn't mean they won't get one.

    Of course, they can always end one very rapidly by not buying one format.
  • That's just odd (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 05, 2006 @12:40PM (#14401064)
    Microsoft's been talking about this HD-DVD addon for a long time, yes.

    But I thought the entire point of saying "it's coming" but not having it launch was that the HD-DVD addon was going to come out two or three years into the 360's lifespan, so it the HD-DVD support could be released when the technology was mature, ready, and affordable.

    You know, instead of the HD-DVD expansion being announced like a month after launch, so it looks like Microsoft is thrashing around wildly and planlessly, like Sega at its low point in the mid-90s only really rich.

    Is this HD-DVD addon even going to really cost any less than an HD-DVD player will in two years? For what reason would anyone buy an XBox 360 HD-DVD drive instead of a standalone?
  • HDMI Output? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by calibanDNS ( 32250 ) <brad_staton AT hotmail DOT com> on Thursday January 05, 2006 @12:43PM (#14401088)
    Will there be an HDMI output cable for the Xbox 360 then? AFAIK, HD DVD requires HDCP which requires HDMI (or a DVI port that supports HDCP). Just curios - anyone have any info on this?
  • I'm confused.The XBox 360 only outputs component for HD. Either this HD-DVD add-on outputs HDMI (or DVI/HDCP) on its own, or Microsoft is planning a DRM war with the media companies. What's going on?
  • by DumbSwede ( 521261 ) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Thursday January 05, 2006 @12:46PM (#14401120) Homepage Journal
    So we have a plan for an external drive, so I guess the plan for an HD version of XBOX 360 with and internal HD-DVD drive sometime in the future have been dropped. Since it is external I guess they actually will make this device just for the PR to suck some wind out of the sales for PS3 and Blu-Ray.

    But if you can slap on an external HD-DVD you could probably slap on an external Blu-Ray. A year from now if Sony and Blu-Ray have won the format war with only Blu-Ray movies readily available, will Bill bite the bullet and also make an external Blu-Ray available? Would Sony let them? Could Sony prevent it legally?

  • I'm not too sure... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MaestroSartori ( 146297 ) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @12:49PM (#14401154) Homepage
    ...this is quite as bad an idea as it might first appear.

    First runs of new format players are pretty expensive. From the earlier article on here, the cheapest HD-DVD player is about 500 dollars. Given that it's just the drive, and doesn't need all the bits the Xbox already has (for converting the signal to different displays, power supply etc) it should be smaller and cheaper than a full player. Yes it's an addon box, but it's probably the cheapest way for someone with a 360 to get HD-DVD as well.

    Of course, PS3 will have a BluRay player built in, but will be more expensive than the 360 is now, never mind any possible price decrease between now and then. Time will tell, I suppose!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 05, 2006 @01:03PM (#14401298)
    Add another life certainty to the list of death and taxes: all Digital Rights Management and encryption schemes will [eventually] be compromised.

    Early in the Xbox 1's deployment, Microsoft claimed that the "Xbox ... has military grade security." Perhaps Microsoft should have consulted the U.S. military and inquired about the number of security protocols which have been either upgraded or entirely abandoned, based on their obsolescence. As everyone knows, the first Xbox's security measures were defeated within its first year on the market.

    http://www.xbox-linux.org/wiki/17_Mistakes_Microso ft_Made_in_the_Xbox_Security_System [xbox-linux.org]

    This is not to say that Microsoft has not made significant improvements with respect to the Xbox 360's security framework, nor that the software programmers who designed the initial measures were at fault - Microsoft software engineers are a subset of the best programmers in the world. But any blueprint designed by fallible humans will have loopholes and areas of weakness to exploit.

    Se, eventually, hackers will defeat the defensive routines built into the Xbox 360, allowing the piracy of copyrighted games and allowing basement-dwelling hackers to create homebrew software.

    So why not remove at least some of the hacker's incentive to circumvent the hardware's built-in security?

    The "Holy Grail" of the the hacking scene for the first Xbox was the Xbox Media Center (XBMC) application. Although Microsoft marketed limited "Media Center Extenders" to provide some additional [thoroughly limited] multimedia capabilities to the Xbox platform, the rogue hackers who created XBMC envisioned a multimedia powerhouse with support for all major audio/video codecs, allowing those who "modded" their consoles to utilize their Xbox as a first-rate multimedia center. In all honesty, no commercial enterprise has yet created software to match the capabilities of the underground XBMC project.

    And now, four years later, Microsoft is making the same mistakes they made with the first iteration of their console.

    The Xbox 360 is an absolute beast of a machine. With three extremely powerful CPU cores and a state-of-the-art Graphics Processing Unit, the Xbox 360 is the killer application to fuel American's current High-Definition craze. While the console has increased multimedia support [over that of the first Xbox], again, it is deliberately and significantly limited.

    Want to stream video over your home network to your Xbox 360? Sure, but only if you have a PC with Windows XP Media Center Edition, and then only for certain Microsoft-approved codecs. [Note to Microsoft Vice Presidents: ignoring the XviD and DivX codecs will not make them go away.] Artificially limiting the multimedia capabilities of what could truly be the most significant piece of consumer electronics on the market will not reduce the incentive for hackers to add the capabilities which should have been designed into the console since its inception.

    For example: the Sony PlayStation 3 console will have support for Blu-Ray High-Definition DVD movies, and this capability will undoubtedly ignite the next wave of Hollywood's eternal re-release of the same movies in higher-quality gloss. The Xbox 360 has this very capability, today, on standard DVD9 media, but Microsoft has deliberately omitted this feature. The WMV-HD codec can produce gorgeous High-Definition audio/video content, but despite pioneering the effort to have feature films released in WMV-HD format, none of the WMV-HD DVDs on the market work with the console. Despite the fact that the Xbox 360 is placed in the very heart of the home-theater space, connected to all of the consumer electronics required to demonstrate the capabilities of the WMV-HD initiative, you still need a Windows PC to play any of the WMV-HD DVD releases. This is the very definition of a wasted opportunity.

    So, this leads to a
  • by GeorgeMcBay ( 106610 ) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @01:09PM (#14401340)
    This isn't quite the average console add-on. Usually it doesn't make sense to make them, as you state, since very few people buy them. You get a catch-22 where developers don't support it because there is no market, and no market ever appears because developers don't support it. Well, there will be HD-DVD movies regardless of what Microsoft does with the 360 (because lots of stand-alone players will support it), so the standard chicken & egg problem doesn't apply here. This looks like a fine add-on, IMO.

    Also, a lot of posts here (not the parent one specifically) seem to imply that Microsoft are being dicks for going with their own proprietary format (when HD-DVD isn't even a Microsoft-centric technology, though they obviously have reasons to back competition to Sony's Blu-ray). I must assume these people haven't read much about the next DVD format war since, while HD-DVD is a long way from being open, it is not nearly as horribly DRM-infested as Blu-ray is going to be and really is a better choice for the consumer.

  • Dreamcast (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PhotoBoy ( 684898 ) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @01:18PM (#14401439)
    All this talk of add on drives reminds me of the Dreamcast and the persistant rumours of a DVD drive.

    Before the PS2 was released there were so many people saying they would wait for the PS2 because it was also a DVD player that rumours began floating around that either a new Dreamcast with a DVD drive or an external drive would be released.

    The DVD drive was never officially announced though, whether it was just a rumour or something based in fact I don't know. What I do remember was instead of it helping people to commit to buying a Dreamcast it just made people decide to wait for one with a DVD drive. Given that the rumour acted as a spoiler on sales I often wonder if it really came from Sega or actually Sony...

    So with the 360 we have a white console with VGA out and Sega games launched roughly a year before the next Sony console. It would be perfect deja vu except I'm sure Gates' pockets are deep enough to fund the 360 no matter what.

    Anyway, I'm dubious as to how soon we'll see an HD-DVD drive for the 360, this announcement strikes me more as a way to hook those saying they'll get a PS3 because of Blu-ray.
  • by SdnSeraphim ( 679039 ) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @01:28PM (#14401534)
    I don't agree. I realize that optional items that interface with games are not likely to be programmed for. However, an external HD-DVD player doesn't do any game interaction. It is simply a way to play media/games on the machine. A hard drive (which MS was stupid not to include) is different in that a game can use it (write data to it). Unless were talking about an HD-DVD (re)writable drive, only games that want to be on the HD-DVD would even care that it is there.
  • by Hes Nikke ( 237581 ) <slashdotNO@SPAMgotnate.com> on Thursday January 05, 2006 @01:30PM (#14401554) Journal
    no PS2 games use [the PS2 Hard Drive] (or atleast very very few, FFX is the one exception that I know of)

    FFX runs just fine off it's one DVD. (that game is HUGE - i'm working my way through it right now) FFXI otoh requires both an internet connection (i think even broadband) and a hard drive. thus, there is no way to run that game on a slimline PS2 - like mine - without some hardware hacking - something i can't afford to do to my PS2 atm. GTA:SA takes advantage of the HD, but runs just fine (if being able to hear the constant disk access across the room can be considered fine) without an HD. i'm pretty sure there are 4 or 5 other games that do the same... FFXI was the only game to out right require a hard drive though.

    Also don't forget that Sega shipped 2 upgrades for the Genisis/Mega Drive that both totally and absolutly flopped - the SegaCD/MegaCD, and the 32X. Nintendo started to get into the act too with the 64DD before they realized that it would kill them like after market upgrades killed sega. Microsoft isn't learning from previous industry mistakes. thats really really bad.

    i'm giving 2:1 odds* that the next microsoft console has upgradable RAM.

    *sorry, all betting is closed
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 05, 2006 @01:30PM (#14401558)
    Ir probably won't we used for games, but if it is considerably cheaper than a standalone HD-DVD player (or Blu-ray) than most owners may consider it for movie purposes.

  • by Control Group ( 105494 ) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @01:36PM (#14401623) Homepage
    Sure, the drive will provide movie-watching functionality, but I question the size of the market that will a) want HD-DVD capability (soon, that is; new formats generally take a little while to catch on while equipment drops in price), b) own a 360 (while this is probably significant overlap with the previous group as technology-lovers, it's still smaller), and c) prefer a game-console add-on to a stand-alone player.

    Admittedly, this is partially based on the assumption that a stand-alone player will be more functional than the HD-DVD abilities of the 360. Given the history of consoles and movie playback, I think it's a pretty safe assumption, but maybe MS will nail it this time.

    Come to think of it, I wonder how well the DVD playback add-on for the XBox sold? The market for DVD players was already pretty mature when it was released, of course...but at the same time, it only cost $20...
  • Re:No.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by maynard ( 3337 ) <j...maynard...gelinas@@@gmail...com> on Thursday January 05, 2006 @01:51PM (#14401789) Journal
    VGA is analog output with a separate sync signal, while component is basically RGB with sync on green. So it's not surprising that it would be easy to support both component and VGA. Supporting digital DVIw/HDCP is another matter entirely. As I pointed out to drinkypoo in a prior reply, the Wikipedia Xbox entry makes no mention of DVI support. Whether it is accurate is another matter entirely. Seems like an open question well worth answering...
  • by dyarid ( 732794 ) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @01:52PM (#14401797)
    I'm pretty sure the HD-DVD drive is only for watching HD-DVD movies (not games). If the HD-DVD drive add on is quite a bit cheaper than the first wave of HD-DVD players, I expect it to be a success. I don't think MS would release it if it's the same price as a stand alone HD-DVD player so I will probably end up getting one.
  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @02:26PM (#14402149)

    The article you linked to has the REAL reason HD-DVD may win:

    Asked whether Microsoft is now doing just that, Weber said that in the end, "It's about money and the cost to the PC industry." Whereas the overall Blu-ray royalty structure adds up to $30 per PC drive, she said, everything a PC vendor needs to support HD-DVD "comes free, shipped and integrated with Vista -- Microsoft Corp.'s next-generation operating system."

    Am I the only one who remembers why USB 2.0 replaced Firewire [eet.com] in next generation PC standards? It was Apple's demand for a mere measly $1 per port licensing fee (admittedly on $30 is freaking enormous compared to this in the world of razor-thin PC profit-margins.

    On the other hand, the PS3 will come with Bluray. That's its biggest saving grace. Even if Windows doesn't support Bluray, Sony or someone will be sure to write drivers for it, and Windows will thus have to support it in some fashion unless they take really blatantly illegal moves to block it. As is, MS is already treading on thin ice with their current actions.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.