There have been a lot of rumours surrounding the Xbox 360 and its HD-DVD drive. We've had stories about an entire second version of the console
including an integrated model. We've had tales that the external drive would never see the light of day in Japan due to low media content there. In fact, about the only thing we haven't heard is anything official from Microsoft on much of it at all. Well, now it's official - the Xbox 360 external HD-DVD drive is being released in Japan, and cheaper than we thought
The drive will debut on November 17th on the island nation, and it will cost a whopping 19,800 yen. That translates to just $170 USD, or around £100 (before VAT, of course). Most people in the industry expected the drive to come out at around the $200 mark, so this is certainly a welcome surprise. In contrast, the European version seems to be marked at £199
, but that at least comes with two movies. Woo.
For anyone who has been hiding under a rock lately and thus missed all the hullibaloo, the 360's drive will be for video playback only and can support up to 1080p resolution. It features two USB ports - one for connection to the unit, and one as a pass-through for other attachments. The drive is made considerably more affordable by its method of playback - it relies on ATI's AVIVO technology, using the rather popular H.264 decoder.
There are, of course, still no statements from Microsoft about an integrated HD-DVD in a second revision of the popular console. However, no release in Japan was part of the reasoning behind that rumour, so it is possible that MS killed two birds with one stone in this announcement.
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