NEWS - Thursday, January 5, 2006

CES: Microsoft Offering Add-on HD-DVD Drive

Microsoft Corp. plans to offer later this year an add-on drive for the HD-DVD high-definition optical disc format for its Xbox 360 gaming console, it said Wednesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. No price or launch date was given for the product. It will allow Xbox 360 owners to watch high-definition movies on HDTVs by playing them through the console, said Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division, at a news conference. The Xbox 360 was launched in late 2005 and supports high-definition gaming. Later this year Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. is expected to launch its own high-definition gaming console, the PlayStation 3. The Sony console will be based around Blu-ray Disc, which is a competitor to HD-DVD in the race to become the de facto replacement for DVD for high-definition content. Microsoft declared its support for HD-DVD last year before the Xbox 360 was launched. At the time Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman and chief software architect, said HD-DVD wouldn’t make it into the launch player but might play a part in the future of the console. Earlier Wednesday Toshiba Corp. unveiled its first two commercial HD-DVD players. Both will go on sale in the U.S. in March this year and they will be priced at $500 and $800, Toshiba said.


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