Microsoft has yet to unveil a U.S. launch date or pricing for the Xbox 360's upcoming external HD DVD drive, but the company has now announced its plans pertaining to Sony's home turf. Microsoft says it will release its HD DVD drive in Japan on November 22, about a week and a half after Sony introduces the PlayStation 3. The drive will be priced at ¥20,790, or just $177.
Since Microsoft is reportedly planning to launch a cheap Xbox 360 Core System in the land of the rising sun on November 2 for the equivalent of $254 ($46 below its U.S. counterpart), the Japanese HD DVD drive might be discounted; its U.S. sibling could end up closer to the $200 mark. Microsoft's Japanese Xbox 360 sales have so far amounted to only around 3% of its global shipments, so the company could be attempting to bait Japanese gamers with lower prices in order to keep the Xbox 360 competitive after the PS3 and Nintendo Wii make their appearances.
In addition to the pricing and release date info, Microsoft announced that it will add 1080p video output support to the Xbox 360 via a software update. The Xbox 360 can currently output video in 720p (progressive scan) or 1080i (interlaced) modes, so the addition of the higher-quality 1080p mode will put it on equal footing with the PS3. With the software update, the console will be able to upscale both games and DVDs to 1080p, as well.
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