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The format wars have taken another turn this afternoon as Microsoft announced its Xbox 360 console might feature Blu-ray in the near future. Albert Penello, group marketing manager for Xbox hardware said the console still supports HD DVD, but would gain a Blu-ray add-on if HD DVD fails as a next-generation format. "It should be …

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Sounds good

I already have the HD DVD drive for my 360 since it was stupidly cheap and gave me a chance to view real HD on my new projector. If MS did a Blu-Ray addon drive for the same money I would be all over it. I just can't bring myself to buy a PS3 just to play Blu-Ray when the number of games for the system is so feeble and they don't play PS2 games any more.

If MS doesn't bring one out I'll probably just go for the Samsung UP5500 combi player. To all the HD DVD haters, there are lots of great films on the format and the price is only going to come down as the format is dropped. A real chance for some bargains to be had if you have the means of playing them.

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Happy

Hurrah

Sooner rather than later would be better in my book, let 360 users have the best of both worlds, can't see Sony being too pleased with that.

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Happy

combi player

i'd like them to release a hd-dvd/blu-ray combo drive for the 360 that would be my ultimate dream :D

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Joke

Evil M$

No reason why, but hey, need to do the the traditional anti MS slagging off....

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MS hedged their bets

It certainly reveals why Microsoft left HD or Blu-Ray out of the base-machine. Which ever way this goes MS can easily offer a suitable drive so users won't be stuck with a dying or obselete format.

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xbox/ps3

Blu-Ray winning the format war might actually be better news for Xbox than PS. If the Xbox drive comes out soon with a fair price-tag, it could hurt sales of the PS3 as it woudn't be a console exclusive anymore.

Personally, I don't give a flying one about the format wars - I'm all over downloading and HDDs as the best way of storing data.

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Re:Hurrah

Actually I can see Sony being happy with that, as MS will probably have to pay Sony in order to sell Blu-Ray drives, and Sony will make money from Blu-Ray disc sales as well.

As for the story, it doesn't surprise me, as me and a friend (I have a PS3, he has a 360 and has remained neutral about the HDDVD/Blu-Ray war) were discussing exactly the same prospect a couple of days ago. In fact we discussed months ago that it's probably why MS did not integrate a HDDVD player into the 360 Elite (or offer the option), because they wanted to wait and see who wins the format war.

Perhaps a smart move on MS's part.

To Shane, while it is true that there are currently plenty of titles on HDDVD, the problem is that if everyone drops the format, you will eventually not be able to get any NEW films for it. Of course, it doesn't reduce your current collection, I'm just saying that it's going to limit how far you can expand it in the future. I speak from past experience (mini-disc, laser-disc). Thankfully I was lucky enough to buy my PS3 when they dropped the price, but before the 40GB version came out, so my PS2 games get regular play :)

Definitely looks like another one in the eye for Toshiba though.

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@Shane

The current version of the PS3 does still play PS2 games, however its through software emulation rather than hardware support.

So not much different to the 360 then.

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I'm sure Sony will be gutted...

...if one of their key rivals starts selling one of their technologies. Under license, at a fee.

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BluRay or Combi?

I'll be interested to see if they just do a BluRay drive, or put the price up a bit by making it dual-format. LG's internal dual-format drive for the PC is only around £30 more expensive than a Blu-only one, and it would save me from having TWO external drives balanced on top of my 360.

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Excellent!

This is good news.

I support BluRay because it can have higher capacities than HD-DVD.

And for that reason alone I hope BluRay wins.

In terms of movie playback, I'm not too bothered.

But for medium-term data archiving at our business, a couple of BluRay drives would be great when the prices drop enough!

Shame they dropped the protective cartridges from the spec though.

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Unhappy

Does sony let others make BlueRay now ?

One of the main problems I have with most of sony's tech is that they make great things and then dont let anone else make them.

Take Mini-discs no one but sony could make them and the format died because of it. If Blueray does become "the" format then FFS sony dont keep it to yourselves

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Anonymous Coward

"It should be consumer choice".

"It should be consumer choice, and if that's the way they vote, that's something we'll have to consider," Penello told Reuters in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

----

The problem with that is the format war isn't a consumer led choice, it's a Studio led choice, and the studios want region control and loads of DRM.

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Alert

Old news

Actually Microsoft said the same thing back when they first announced the HD DVD add-on. So this isn't news whatsoever.

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Smut Wars

Correct me if I am wrong - being a youngling and all - but the previous motion picture format war was the Betamax Vs. VHS. That war was won owing to Betamax taking the moral high ground and refusing to produce any porn titles. Thus all smut was available on VHS and the War was won!

Well I suppose it was that and the Storage capacity of a Betamax tape. I believe the Betamax was backed by Sony, looks like they learned their lesson and the consumers want to cram more on to their media!

For recording from TV I'm with Eddie and my Love affair with the sky+ box continues

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@Darren

No, the 40Gb PS3 can't play PS2 games at all. The UK 60Gb model did it in software emulation, and you need a US or Japan 20Gb or 60Gb one if you want the hardware emulation.

That's because the "software emulation" was only using it for one of the two main processors in the PS2. The other one has been yanked off the PS3 board for the 40Gb to (a) save a few pennies and (b) sell more PS3 games to people who might otherwise be playing old PS2 games secondhand.

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Emulation

Not quite the whole story. The PS2 emulation software exists, so taking it away doesn't really save a great deal.

What it does do is save the license fee to the PS2 section of Sony from the PS3 division. Prime example of how to make the customer suffer due to stupid inter-departmental politics.

You can still (if you want) play PS1 games on the PS3 because that's part of the PS3 division.

Go figure.

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Haha good one

When has "consumer choice" had anything to do with this war? We all know Blu Ray and HD DVD are bribing studios left and right so it's rich to hear MS espouse "choice" when they were doing much of the bribing themselves.

Bill Gates remarks during an interview the other day made it very clear that Microsoft doesn't like physical media at all. In any format. Their support for HD DVD was most likely just to prolong a physical format war as long as possible, sow confusion (so much for choice), stick it to Sony and secretly develop a VOD platform.

It's also clear that despite its "support" for HD DVD, they certainly didn't want to embrace it tightly, for example by adding HD DVD to the XBox 360. The Elite model would have been an ideal choice to do this. It is mighty peculiar that they didn't unless MS never took the format seriously to begin with. Maybe even they knew HD DVD could turn into an albatross if it failed. As indeed it appears to have done.

The desire to keep the 360 at arms length from HD DVD also explains the pre-CES rumours of 360 technology being licenced to other companies. Toshiba could licence the 360, chuck in an HD DVD drive, brand it Toshiba and Microsoft is spared the taint of a failed format.

Oh well, one day we might discover what such a device looked like and what could have been if Warner went the other day.

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@Does sony let others make BlueRay now ?

Sony I dont think has ever had any sole tech other than the memory stick but as far as I know other firms make the sticks.

As for minidisc, I guess my Sharp and my brothers Aiwa MD units must have been illegal copies. They will license the tech to anyone who writes the cheque.

The only mistake Sony made with MD was not to push it bigtime as a PC data format. They had a reliable, pretty cheap, robust, re-writable, 150mb storage system ready to go in 1993, well before CDRW came along as a domestic system. Considering most HDs at that time were around the 200Mb or less size it would have been amazing. But thats for another discussion.

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@jason

Isn't Aiwa owned by Sony, though?

As for not making MD a PC format, I think (just as they so ably demonstrated with the NetMD fiasco) they were far too paranoid about someone breaking the DRM shackles to let us actually use our own data in the way we want to.

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Stop

@ everyone talking about Sony

Sony does not own blu ray, nor do they have the right to stop anyone else making blu ray players!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blu-ray_Disc_Association

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I dont think DRM was even a twinkle in anyones eye....

.....back in 1993 or even till the late 90's. That was a time you could pretty much copy any floppy with a simple DOS command of COPY.

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Same ol' story...

MS has often taken the approach they are now.

I remember reading in 1990 (ish) that a reporter asked whether Microsoft would support platforms other than Windows (specifically, the Amiga). They replied that they would support any platform that was commercially successful. They do (to some extent).

In 1993ish, they were saying they wouldn't support the World Wide Web, saying that everyone would be using MSN. Six months later, they had the 1st version of Internet Explorer out. Which would have meant they had it in development when they said everyone would be using MSN.

In 2006, they released an HDDVD drive for the xbox360, but, oddly, claimed they wouldn't include one with the xbox (no point). Then in 2007, they upgraded the Xbox with HDMI (seeming a pre-requisite for Blu Ray support) .

All along, Microsoft have kept their options open in case their chosen path wasn't profitable. They still are.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Smut Wars

I'll correct you. The idea that the format war between Betamax and VHS was decided by the porn industry is just a popular urban myth. The porn industry was nowhere near as big then as it is now, and most grot was bootlegged and sold under the counter.

The reality is that major film studios supported VHS because it was cheaper to produce than Betamax. If you wanted to rent the latest blockbusters you had no choice but to choose VHS.

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@Mark Broadhurst

"Take Mini-discs no one but sony could make them and the format died because of it."

http://www.minidisc.org/equipment_browser.html

Lots of manufacturers made the players.

I have perhaps 100 recordable minidiscs at home, mostly JVC, Maxell and TDK, all big names in the recordable media market. Yes, a few Sony ones too, as they were usually the cheapest I could get in 80 minute capacity.

I suspect what killed MD was a combination of two things, both of which happened just as MD would have been getting into it's stride as a worthy replacement for cassette tapes:

1. MP3 players got a whole lot better, especially when the first affordable hard-disk based units were released. Why carry a couple of dozen albums on MD when half your CD collection would fit on a unit about the same size as a portable MD player?

2. Recordable CD became affordable and accessible even to non-computer people. Why use a minidisc when you could record to a cheaper blank CD, and play it in most normal CD players too?

MD-Data had to compete against well-established "standards" of the time, like the Iomega Zip disks. I think Memory Stick bombed outside of Sony for much the same reason: it was trying to enter a market with plenty of established competition (CF, SD and it's many siblings, even SmartMedia at the time) and offered no advantage over them whatsoever.

Sorry, all rather off-topic I know. IGMC... :)

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@Iain

Aiwa has only been owned by Sony since the end of 2003, so Jason's Aiwa MD player would have been produced while they were still their own company. Well... Sony had invested in it, but they didn't own the company.

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