Xbox 360 - the almost high-def device

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"TOKYO/SEATTLE (Reuters) - Talks between Japan's Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. to unify next-generation DVD formats are leaning toward a disc structure supported by Sony, a source close to the matter said on Tuesday."

This is bad for Microsoft. As a friend pointed out, with the new "Xbox 360" positioned as the "HD" box for your home, there are some problems:

1) HD stands for high-def, of course, but the Xbox 360 won't have a high-def DVD drive! It's going with the same DVD drive as the current Xbox because (1) it's cheaper and (2) such a thing actually exists. But by 2006 the competitive landscape for HD-DVD drives of one kind or another will have changed radically. The Sony PS3 will have Blu-Ray when it comes out in 2006 and that will mean that people who want a high-def DVD player can buy a Playstation 3 and get a high-def DVD player too.
2) HD also stands for hard drive - there isn't one in the system by default.

My friend reminded me of how many people bought a PS2 because it played DVDs. It was only a few years ago that DVD players were expensive and getting one 'for free' with the PS2 was quite the deal and made up for a dearth of software at launch.

So the Xbox 360 "HD" experience isn't very HD. (The current Xbox can output high-def already.)


(Update: I read an interview with J Allard in Game Informer where he said something like, "So what if Hollywood can't make up their mind? This didn't keep the cable companies from broadcasting high-def." Which suggests to me that MS is planning to sell you movies over your broadband connection. Interestingly, WMA high-def format works great with a 3.0 gigahertz processor, which just happens to be what is in the Xbox 360. And given that the hard drive is removable, perhaps you'll be able to buy a much bigger hard drive to store (cache) your movies.

It really takes 25 megabits/second to broadcast or stream HDTV, which is a connection that no one in the US has yet. But if you are willing to dribble movies in overnight and store them on the hard drive than it would be workable. Also, I heard a rumor that the system will ship with a 20 gigabyte (removable) hard drive as part of a package, at least initially.)

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.