Microsoft to add HD DVD to Xbox 360

Microsoft will launch an HD DVD drive add-on for its Xbox 360 console in November.

The drive would be available in Japan from November 22 and will cost YEN 19,800 ($US168), general manager of the Xbox division of Microsoft's Japanese subsidiary, Takashi Sensui, said.

The drive will allow Xbox 360 owners to watch high-definition HD DVD video content on a suitable television. The system will allow viewing at up to 1080 lines and progressive scanning (1080p), which is the highest of several picture levels judged to be high-definition.

The drive is due on sale in other markets but Microsoft did not announce pricing or availability. It is expected to appeal to both existing and new Xbox 360 owners.

HD DVD is one of two formats competing to become the de facto replacement for today's DVD standard. The format is backed by Toshiba and a number of other companies including Microsoft and Intel. Its rival, Blu-ray Disc, is backed by Sony, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic) and a number of other big-name electronics companies. A drive for the system will be built into the PlayStation 3.

With the launch of the HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 console, the high-definition video disc battle will have reached the gaming space.

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