* Prices may differ from that shown
It may have lost the HD DVD format wars, but to be honest, I really can't see what Blu-Ray ever had over HD-DVD. It's more or less the Betamax of the digital world. No, not THAT digital world. Beta (HD-DVD) vs VHS (Blu-Ray)... and Beta lost, but was never really forgotten... or totally gone.
OK, before I carry on, I've never watched a Blu-Ray movie, so I can't really comment on the picture quality between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, so my opinions are somewhat invalid on the subject. But I can only ASSUME that the quality difference is minimal.
I've only owned the HD-DVD player for about at year, at the time I write this, and I was lucky enough to find this in my local GameStation, for only £20 plus two HD-DVDs. For the price, I HAD to have it. I know HD-DVDs were no longer being produced, but I though "Hey, why not" I've always wanted the HD-DVD player, but it was WAY too much. But since HD-DVDs 'death', it's prices have dropped dramatically.
Also, the HD-DVDs can be found at some second-hand game shops, such as GameStation, but they are getting harder to come by. You'll have better luck on eBay. Over the past week, I have purchased two HD-DVDs - Transformers (2007) and Tremors. Both awesome movies, and even MORE awesome in HD! The best thing though, was the cost. Much like the player, HD-DVD prices are dirt cheap. The Transformers HD-DVD only set me back about £4.00, and the Tremors HD-DVD cost about £4.25... if that isn't a bargain, I don't know what is.
Now, for the player itself. In terms of HD picture quality, the image is crisp and clear and the audio is brilliant. Obviously, the quality of the video and audio will depend on your hardware setup. In order to appreciate HD properly, it's best to have an HD Ready TV, most of which are nowadays, and use an HDMI cable. Now, this cable is a MUST if you want to play games and DVD/HD-DVDs in High Definition. Using HDMI, you will get the best possible video and audio quality your TV and Xbox 360 can produce, up to the maximum of 1080i. So, I do not recommend a SCART or composite cables. Component cables will be suitable, but HDMI is damn near perfect. Even better, is if you have a surround sound system connected to your TV or 360.
A downside, is that many of the original Xbox 360s did not have an HDMI output, so you were stuck the lesser quality SCART, or the awful composite connectors. However, the component cables far surpassed these two cables in terms of picture quality.
Connecting the player to your 360 is very easy. The player has two cables: USB to 360 cable and the power cable. Simply attach the power cable to the player, then one end of the USB cable to the player and the other end to the 360. If you own the new Xbox 360 S, it has built-in HD-DVD software. So it's just plug and play. If you own the older Xbox 360, you will need to insert the CD provided to install the HD-DVD player support software. Once that's done, open the player disc tray, pop the disc in, close it and away you go.
As a small bonus, the HD-DVD came packaged with the Xbox 360 universal remote control, with which you can control the Xbox and the HD-DVD player. The only problem, is that the remote only opens the 360s disc tray, NOT the HD-DVD tray, so you may end up opening the wrong tray when you didn't mean to. Also, for a limited time, the player also came with a free copy of King Kong. Mine didn't, so I've never watched the film... in HD or otherwise. An extra bonus, is that the player upgrades the picture quality of your regular DVDs to. Which is a nice feature.
Region coding... I believe the player itself is Region Free, as are the HD-DVDs, so you can happily watch an HD-DVD from America, Japan or anywhere else. If playing a regular DVD though, region coding remains the same, for where ever you bought the player from. So, if you bought the player in the UK, it will be locked to Region 2 when watching regular DVDs.
Another good feature about HD-DVD, is that they have, well... extra features you don't get with regular DVDs. On the HD-DVDs I own, they include such things as Picture-in-Picture, where you can see behind-the-scenes footage while still playing the main movie, production photos and storyboard images, Heads-Up-Displays that give information about particular scenes as the main movie plays, and many other cool features, unique to each HD-DVD.
Most criticized the Xbox 360 for not having HD-DVD (or even Blu-Ray) capabilities out-of-the-box, but this was done because it would have added extra cost to the 360 console. It also allowed people to upgrade to HD-DVD an their own pace, without forcing a format on the customer that they may not want to use. After all, Blu-Ray DVDs ARE more expensive than DVDs. And as most of us know, the PS3 sold well largely due to the fact that it's the cheapest Blu-Ray player on the market... NOT because of it's games. It was the same deal with the PS2 being the cheapest DVD player at the time.
In all honesty, I cannot see the reasons as to why HD-DVD lost out to Blu-Ray. In the long run, HD-DVDs were far cheaper to produce than the Blu-Ray discs. The only difference I see is that HD-DVD could hold up to 25Gb of data, where as Blu-Ray can hold 30Gb of data... not that much difference, really. It's just a sad shame that such a new concept died out before it really had a chance to make an impact. If it HAD been given the chance, I'm sure it would have given Blu-Ray a run for it's money, and HD-DVD releases would carry on into the distant future. Alas, it did not happen.
Unsure as to why Toshiba ceased production of HD-DVD, my theory is that Sony either paid them to stop production, so they could win the market with Blu-Ray, or Toshiba realized they just couldn't compete with Sony's Blu-Ray market. Hmm... don't get me wrong, I'm NOT bashing on Sony here... I'm just making a funny.
All-in-all... anyone who comes across the HD-DVD player, sees it for £20 and ignores it is oblivious to it's true potential. I say... pick it up, buy it and ENJOY it. Because you will. Own this and you own a little piece of history, something that never was, something that never came to be... a true heroic failure, as I call it. The player is cheap... the HD-DVDs are cheap... overall, it's a great purchase, even if you have a Blu-Ray player as well, it will never have the subtle charm that HD-DVD has.
Actually... an heroic failure? More like a total winner.
For most people, format wars can be an inconvenient and often very expensive experience for movie fans. The Blu-ray - HD DVD battle was likened early on to the battle fought between Betamax and the ultimately victorious VHS format in the 1980s. I think this overestimated the importance of these HD formats with the step up from video to DVD being a massive improvement introducing skippable scenes additional features and stuff people take for granted like not having to rewind anymore.
The XBOX 360 HD DVD player is - for anyone unsure; an HD DVD player designed to work exclusively with the XBOX 360 games console. It sold on the strength of the value it represented against free standing HD DVD players and the rival Blu-ray disc format. It was predicted that the games consoles attachment to these technologies would prove very influential to the success of either HD DVD or Blu-ray and in the end, it did. With Sony's PlayStation 3 having Blu-ray playback out of the box and Microsoft's accessory always feeling like a clumsy add on which was ultimately not bought by enough people. Toshiba's massive loss in the end proved to be my massive gain...
With the HD formats, the benefit to anyone is basically measured by how much money they are prepared to invest in their set-up. I should point out that i've bought this player twice on two separate occasions, the first time I was drawn in by the price of the player which I could get for just over a hundred pounds at a time when rival players could touch £500 my eagerness to grab a bargain and take further advantage of my XBOX 360 overtook common sense and upon hooking it up to my 26" Toshiba HDTV I was underwhelmed. Luckily that machine proved faulty and I was able to get a full refund and i've learnt that a screen-size of 32 inches (preferably larger) is essential to get the most out of the technology.
After Toshiba withdrew support for their HD DVD format there was a firesale that lasted for a few weeks where retailers were desperate to shift any HD DVD players and discs and at this point I knew it was time to dabble. I felt it would prove a much better match with my new 37" HDTV. At this time Gamestation were selling these Microsoft players for £24.99 with two free films. Without hesitation I snapped up two of these players. The second sits unopened under my bed (just in case) and I was able to gather what must be ninety percent of what was released for the format for a few pounds a shot.
My review for this product is largely positive because I realise I got a great deal even though i'm aware no new films will be released but the machine isn't without its problems. Upon release, the player was criticised for not having an HDMI output which is the standard interface for all HD equipment but newer XBOX 360s all have an HDMI output and has ironically improved the performance of the HD DVD player after becoming obsolete.
Unfortunately, with the addition of an HDMI port, Microsoft also launched their 'Elite' model of the XBOX 360 which was black and looks out of place next to the pale grey player but this is a small price to play. The machine easily connects to your 360 through USB and for anyone with a wireless adaptor Microsoft have cleverly added USB inputs to the back of the player so your not forced to connect the player through the front of your games machine.
The HD DVD player comes packaged with the XBOX 360 multimedia remote which is a nice little bit of kit that lights up when you use it and looks quite similar to the wireless games controller. Unfortunately, in a rather massive oversight, the remote also controls the 360 so if you try to open the drawer of your player it will open your console too which is very frustrating. I now use my games controller and i've returned the remote control to its box.
Against freestanding players, the lack of a visual display coupled with a louder than usual disc drive led the player to get rather average reviews but with my HD DVD collection at around 150 titles bought for under £500 i've been really impressed overall and has also allowed me to relieve strain on my 360s disc drive.
I brought one of these after i got annoyed with my Toshiba HD DVD taking so long to load up films i thought i would try this out insted.
Once it arrived i plugged it into the xbox via the USB cable provided but it also has to be externally powered with another plug which meant i had to get another 4 way adapter, once i powered it on and i turned on the xbox the film didn't start automatically and with no play button on the HD DVD drive itself i wasn't too sure what to do but after some searching it was on the start of the xbox page saying 'PLAY HD DVD', simple.
Whilst it was loading i did notice it does create a bit of noise, its not loud but you can hear it over the xbox reading the disc, I've noticed this on my Toshiba HD DVD player it must be something to do with the HD discs but after a couple of minutes you don't notice its there anymore.
Loading time was significantly faster than the Toshiba and getting through menus was also quicker, sometimes on the Toshiba player there would be a slight 2-3 second delay on selecting something from the menu but this doesn't happen on the 360 drive, another plus.
The 360 HD player does support full 1080p but unfortunately my TV only supports 1080i so i cant critically compare the two but from previous experience on larger TV's you can notice the difference especially in landscape scenes and close ups on faces.
The 360 official remote is compatible with the HD drive and so is the controller so you are covered on both ends.
The unit itself is very small in comparison to the 360 itself, in pictures its hard to see how big it is but i would say its roughly 1/3 of the size of the 360 the actual dimensions are 9.5 x 7.5 x 5.2 inches and weighs in at 5.3 pounds.
Overall anyone with hd dvds or original dvds will benefit from one of these, bare in mind you will need an xbox 360 for the player to plug into and to watch the movies, they can be picked up cheap nowadays due to hd dvd going out of business.
Back when the xbox console was first released there was a fierce battle emerging between two knew forms of high definition, the HD dvd and the Bluray Disk format.
The console itself is not capable of playing any HD disk but instead requires an external drive, and so began the list of advantages the sony playstation 3 over the xbox began! The playstation has an inbuilt drive which is capable of playing Bluray disks straight from go!
Anyway.....For the sake of the xbox playing HD disks this HD dvd player is required, meaning more bulk, more expense and being restricted to being only able to use HD dvds and not Bluray.
The disk drive is pretty bulky and is probably about a third of the size of the console if not more but when sat on top of the console does look pretty tidy, the drive has been painted the same colour of the standard console and therefore blends in well. It comes with both a mains power adaptor and cable to connect it to the console itself of course, when i purchased mine it came with a remote as well although i don't believe many of the second hand ones now will come with one as they can be used for general use with the console and can be quite handy!
As HD became a big hype many many people (including myself) went out and purchased the add on despite the cons, shortly later the battle between the two formats would end.....
Unfortunately the Blu ray format would win the battle leaving everyone who had purchased the drive in a bit of a pickle, as time went on HD dvds stop becoming manufactured and the craze was one sided! The disks are now very hard to come across and if you do luckily are very cheap! You'll still find them but not on main store shelves unfortunately!
The drives can now be found very very cheap, in a quick search just now i managed to find one on amazon for just £17! Quite a jump from the original price and just shows that the fight is over!
Unless your really worried about watching HD content i wouldn't recommend people buy one now, even though now they are very cheap you'll find it hard to find disks to go with it!
Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD Drive (HD DVD Drive)
I bought a HD DVD Drive around a year ago just after Blu ray won the battle between HD DVD and Blu Ray. I bought it because it came with a free Xbox 360 media remote and the remote was £20.00 and the HD DVD player was £25.00! So I tought it was a good deal. I never thought I would actually use the HD DVD drive as I have a PlayStation 3 and it has a built in Blu Ray drive but when I bought the HD DVD drive I almost use it more than the Blu Ray player as the DVD's are cheap and are almost the same quality as Blu Ray DVD's.
Whats in the Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD Player box...
Inside my HD DVD Player box there was... Xbox 360 HD DVD Player, Setup disc, Power supply,USB cable, Universal Media Remote, Batteries and a User manual. But ive heard that in some countries you get a free HD DVD title e.g King Kong.
Description of the Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD Player...
On the front of the HD DVD player there is the HD DVD tray, a hole for if your HD DVD tray is broken so you can put in a paper clip to open it and a eject button. One of the sides is flat and the other side is curved. The reason why one of the sides are flat is that you can put the HD DVD player on its side as well as flat down. On the back of the Player there is two USB 2.0 ports, One Mini USB port for connection with the Xbox 360 or PC, a power port and a Port for your Wireless adapter. On the top of the HD DVD Player there is a logo "Xbox 360". The player is Grey and white but the HD DVD tray and the eject button is silver and the eject button has a green LED when is turned on!
Information on the Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD Player...
The HD DVD player can connect to your PC or Mac (Only if you are running boot camp on Mac) You need to be running Windows XP, I don't know if Windows 7 and Windows Vista can support the HD DVD drive. But on Windows XP it comes up as a DVD player, I use my HD DVD drive on my PC as I have a 30" Dell 1080p monitor and my TV is only 24". I also have another HD DVD drive in my media centre which now has HD DVD and Blu Ray support. Just connect the HD DVD player to your computer via USB and then go online and goto Google and type in Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD Player Drivers for PC! As HD DVD movies have went out of date the HD DVD's are aroumd £3 to £20 on ebay and some high stree retailers e.g. HMV. I don't know if you can use the HD DVD drive to play Xbox 360 games but I wouldn't try it.
Overall the Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD Player is now out of stock in most places I got mine brand new out of game as a family relative is a manger in one of there branches so he told my that there was two in stock, so I bought the two of them! But I would search on Amazon or Ebay for one and you might pick up a second hand one for cheap! They are a Good DVD player and I would highly recommend anyone who wants Blu Ray quality in DVD's but doesn't want to buy a Blu Ray player or thinks that Blu Ray DVD's are too expensive to try and buy a Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD Player. There are 100's of HD DVD titles but they are all old movies there is no more new movies being sold in HD DVD form as Blu Ray won the battle between HD DVD and Blu Ray!
The Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive does exactly what it says on the tin. And a bit more besides.
I picked this drive up just before the war with Blu-Ray was over, which was a little upsetting, but that's the way the cookie crumbles I suppose! Now, they can be had for next to nothing, and the media itself is even cheaper, so it's a great way to get started with HD movies, especially for the budget conscious. In case your Xbox 360 doesn't have the latest firmware, the drive comes with its own installation disc. You simply plug the drive into the mains, connect the USB lead to your Xbox 360, pop the disc in, and you're away. Simply pop your HD-DVD in and that's it - you're watching an HD movie! The visual quality is simply stunning - being an add-on drive I somehow expected slightly lower quality than I might have expected from a standalone player, but my fears were laid to rest upon viewing - the quality is literally mindblowing.
Although I use this drive less now than I did perhaps a year or two ago, I have found that it serves as an ideal external optical drive for my netbook. No drivers, just plug and play! So to anyone thinking of getting this drive anyway, there is a bit of added value.
I purchased my Xbox 360 High Definition DVD drive from Curry's when the war between HD and Blu-Ray was just starting. Having already purchased a HD DVD, I really needed to get the player, so at £130, I thought, why not.
I don't know if anyone has noticed, but HD isn't really around anymore. Blu-Ray won the war. I never purchased anymore DVD's at the time, as they were so expensive when it came out. So I currently own one HD DVD and player and that is all. I'm sure you can get pre owned DVD's off the interweb, probably still some new ones knocking about as well. I haven't seen any in shops now though for a quite a while.
The quality of HD if pretty good, on level with Blu-Ray. The DVD I got is my favourite film and I already own it in normal DVD, but it has no features, where as the HD version has alot of features on it.
The player itself is roughly half the size of the 360, in the same white and grey plastic of the main console. It runs relatively quietly when on and standing next to my 360, it all looks pretty smart.
It was very easy to set up, consisting of a main power cable and a cable to connect the player to the console. That is it, simple. The player also came with a remote control to use, which works the main console as well, so that comes in handy.
If you own an Xbox, then I would recommend getting a player if you can, they do upgrade the quality of your normal DVD's and it is th only DVD option for the Xbox at the moment. You never know, the next gen Xbox may have Blu-ray fitted if they are allowed.
It's also cheaper then the PS3, so a good buy.
£20 for a HD DVD Player, you're kidding right? Well, I'm not!
The store 'Game' did a special offer for one week only where they sold the HD DVD players for £20. If you missed out, you'll now have to fork out £40 for one of these.
Now don't get me wrong, I KNOW HD lost the battle to Bluray, but there are stocklists of thousands of HDDVD's still floating around stores, available to rent, some stores such as Zavvi selling them for as little as £5 each, that's cheaper than a normal DVD!
The HDDVD player upscales the quality for any standard format dvd also, so for £20, you get one of the best standard DVD players out there on the market
The quality is frankly superb! My standard DVD's now look a little better in quality, but the HD movies are FANTASTIC!
The only issue I have with this, is that it's a little awkward having it separate to the xbox, would have been great if Microsoft encorporated this with the console, but this kept the consoles price down as not everyone wanted a HD DVD player.
You also get a media remote which is worth £20 alone, so you really had ought to purchase this DVD player.
You're probably sick by now of hearing "Next Generation" this and "High Definition" that, but what does it all mean? A far better movie viewing experience is what! The age of High Definition is among us, with High Definition meaning a sharper and more defined picture which therefore shows more detail throughout films. The optimum resolution of a High Definition picture is 1920x1080, whereas a standard definition DVD or TV signal only displays a resolution of 640x480; and therefore High Definition is said to be six times shaper and more detailed than ordinary standard definition signals.
Awesome you might be thinking, but what's the catch? Well, the price... Until now that is! At the beginning of the High Definition era, 2 formats battled it out for HD supremacy, with Blu-ray coming out on top and HD DVD falling short. Fortunately for us consumers, that wasn't such a bad thing due to HD DVD films and players now being sold at a ridiculously low price. Due to the HD DVD loss, production on new HD DVD discs and players has now officially stopped, resulting in only new films being available on the format King Blu-ray. With every disadvantage comes an advantage it seems. The stop in production has now jolted game stores and websites around the world in to selling off their HD DVD products cheaply to avoid making a loss on them, so now is a prime time to snap up some of your favourite films in glorious High Definition for an extremely appealing price.
Certain movie companies signed exclusivity with Toshiba and HD DVD before Blu-ray won the war, and this has resulted in an extensive list of HD DVDs that are currently unavailable on Blu-ray. This list includes such titles as The 40 Year Old Virgin, Assault on Precinct 13, Chronicles of Riddick, The Dukes of Hazzard, Jarhead, King Kong, Happy Gilmore, The Polar Express and Van Helsing, amongst others; a pretty good list I think you'll agree. A large percentage of these titles can now be picked up for £5 or less. £5! That is a ridiculously low price for a HD movie. You would struggle to find a normal DVD version cheaper. From what I've seen HD DVD movies look and sound every bit as good as Blu-rays aswell, so there is no need to fear a lack of picture quality. King Kong in particular looks stunning on HD DVD. The amount of detail you can see on the giant ape is jaw-dropping, with every piece of fur moving individually and battle scars being clearly visible; a cinematic feast you need to experience. Kong's frightening roar will give your 5.1 surround sound system a sturdy workout aswell.
Along with the exclusives HD DVD has to offer, films that appear on both HD DVD and Blu-ray, known as multi-format, will be far cheaper and more accessible to most on the HD DVD format. Why buy a film for £15 on Blu-ray when the near exact same movie can be bought on HD DVD for £5 or under, saving £10? I have bought all of my favourite films such as Blood Diamond and The Last Samurai on HD DVD instead of Blu-ray and therefore saved hundreds of pounds. If you don't mind different case designs in your collection, which you likely won't, then HD DVD's are a great, cheap, and sensible way to buy high definition films which appear on both formats.
The drive itself:
The HD DVD drive plugs in to the back of an Xbox 360 console via a USB cable, with a lead also being plugged in to a spare controller port on the front of the console. This could be a pain for those of you who use wired controllers, but the majority of Xbox 360 controllers these days are wireless so this shouldn't be an issue. The drive can either be rested on top of the Xbox or if room allows, stood up beside the console. The small and compact design of the drive allows the device to sit comfortably on top of the Xbox without any ventilation holes being covered; eliminating the risk of the Xbox overheating and producing the famous yet dreaded 3 red rings. The HD DVD drive only comes in white; this looks fine up against a normal Xbox 360, but looks odd whilst used with an Elite console and this look might put people off using the drive.
My main disadvantage of the HD DVD drive in my eyes is the noise the device produces whilst running. The Xbox 360 console is known for being noisy in the first place, so sticking another drive in the room which makes a ton of noise isn't really a wise idea. You won't have a problem with the surround sound cranked up and a bullet rattling around your room, but it's the silent parts of movies which the HD DVD drive really ruins. Take BBC's terrific documentary series Planet Earth for example. There are many quiet parts throughout the documentary as it shows wildlife in motion or gorgeous scenes; and last thing you want is hearing noise in the background to ruin the mood of the film. This annoyance has actually put me off watching movies in the past and I recently decided to trade in the HD DVD version of Planet Earth and purchase the Blu-ray version so I can now watch the documentary in peace.
Along with the jet-engine like noise, another concern of mine is the amount of heat the HD DVD drive produces. The Xbox 360 console itself creates a large amount of heat, and when you add the HD DVD drive and television in to the mix, you might find your room heating up and becoming an uncomfortable viewing area.
Although the heat and noise issues might put some people off, the stupidly low price of the drive and HD DVD's should warrant a purchase alone. You can buy the drive for as low as £20 these days with HD DVD's costing as little as £3 or £4, so the HD DVD drive from Toshiba is the perfect way to step in to the High Definition era and watch your favourite movies with stunning picture clarity. For those who already own a Blu-ray player, I highly recommend purchasing the HD DVD drive and snatching up the HD DVD exclusives and multi-format films for an appealing low price.
For HMV it would appear not, they have a large selection of HD DVD's for less than £3. Which makes this HD DVD Drive add-on for the Xbox 360 a brilliantly good choice for the price. I've recently seen these for £12.99 in Game, and £19.96 in Toys 'R' Us, as HD has lost the 'format war' after BluRay triumped.
As these can be picked up for very cheap it makes them worth while if you'd would like to get some very good quality movies. So for around £26 you could pick up an HD Drive add-on for the 360 and 2 HD films from HMV, which is the cost of a single BluRay disc.
I have both the Xbox 360 and PS3 and can honestly say that i cannot tell the difference between the two on screen.
If you have an Xbox 360, and want to get some cheap great quality movies.
Well, since the HD-DVD lost the High Definition Storage war to the 'Blu-Ray' you may think - is there really a need for this? The answer, is yes!
You can pick this little fella up for around £20 now, sometimes cheaper if you shop around a bit - which for a high definition player is astounding. Fair enough, there aren't anymore HD-DVDs coming out for it anymore - but it's worth the price alone just to see Heroes Season 1 and Transformers in all their high definiton glory! I recently walked into my local 'Gamestation' store and almost all of the HD-DVDs were £5 or less!
Not only does the drive play HD-DVDs, but it upscales your old DVDs which basically, makes them look sharper and better and half way towards HD.
You can also use this drive on your PC as well, which is a bonus. The drive also contains 2 USB Ports on the back as well which, when the drive is plugged in, leaves you with one spare.
The HD-DVD format might be dead, but look at all the classics that are out on it that you can pick up for dirt cheap! Well worth the money.
Right so we all know by now that HD DVD is pretty much gone. blu Ray has won and Sony are loving it. However there is still space on my shelf for this, Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD Drive.
I picked mine up only 3 days ago after finding out that they were being sold in my local Toys R Us for £20. I know some people have managed to get better deals but these are actually getting quite rare due to such low prices. And for that price as a temporary source of HD movies you really cant go wrong.
The DVD drive itself, from the time I have had it is awesome. The minute the universal logo loads up on a HD dvd you know youve made the right choice with your £20. The drive comes bundled with a full remote control as well which is awesome as this on its own can often cost at least £15 if not £20. The remote is great and is backlit. One nice feature is that the remote has channel up and down as well as volume up and down controls that you can use on your tv if you scan or find the right codes for the remote (see microsoft website) You can even use the remote to turn not only your 360 on and off but your tv too. The only annoying thing is that the open tray button will only work with the main xbox and not the HD add on.
The actual drive itself requires its own power and then plugs into a USB port on your xbox, however it does have 2 USB ports on there so once you have plugged it in you actually gain one port.
As far as the actual performance goes with this it is amazing. I have only watched a couple of films using it and I am already impressed. I own a PS3 and have a tried a couple of blu rays and although I am only on a 720p 32 inch samsung screen I can see no difference between the two.
The best part about the HD drive is that it is a great way to get some HD quality films at a really low price. There are quite a few HD dvds that are currently available on the hmv website from only £3. And as a friend pointed out there have been plenty of films that I have paid a fiver to see for them to turn out to be rubbish so I have taken this advice and since brought a few films just to see what they are like.
All in all if you can find one and want a temporary HD solution till blu rays really start coming down in price a bit more then you should look no further.
Oh yeah and one awesome feature of this drive is that while you are watching a film you can bring up the menu while it still plays in the background and it just appears down the side much in the same way the mini dashboard does with usual use of the 360.
Ok so HD-DVD has been dropped by toshiba, this was mainly due to the fact that universal the main backer of the format backed out and switched to blu-ray. This to me is not a problem, becuase of the dropped format the price of these units has dropped drastically, i picked mine up from Gamestation for £24.99 with 2 HD-DVD movies. I must say the quality is Fantastic, the clarity of the images produced on this format is amazing you can literally see everything on the screen.
This is a great inestment for those of you with 360's and HDTV's its a great and cheap way to enjoy high definition video. Also with the format being dropped it has brought the price of HD-DVDs down aswell, i recently purchased 'Planet Earth' on HD-DVD for £15.00 of amazon compared to its blu-ray counterpart at £30 thats almost half the price and the quality is exactly the same. This is a great investment as there are already hundreds of movies out there such as transformers and batman begins which can still be enjoyed.
Over the past year or so there has been a bitter war between HD DVD and blu-ray over who woud be able to produce dvds and players of high definition standard.
The war has now been won by bu-ray ( a feature available on the ps3), and HD DVD have been said to have died out and buying a player for these would be pointless.
However, i strongly disagree and believe it would be a worthy investment to buy one of these HD dvd players for your xbox 360 console. As long as you have a good HD television then it would certainly be worth it. The price of these players has dropped drastically after it was announced that these dvds would no longer be produced. The whole player along with a controller can be bought for as little as £30 from somewhere like play.com. This i a great price especially as it comes with a controller and not so long ago this would have cost well in excess of £100!
Okay, so your not going to be able to get any films that come out in the future, but there are still plenty of old and recent HD DVDs you can purchase - and these are of course at bargain prices!
There are loads of great films to choose from such as King Kong or Transformers - which must both look awesome in HD quality!
This is simply a great way of enhancing the power and variety of features on your xbox 360 and you can benefit from great HD quality DVDs (which in some people's opinions are better than blu-ray - maybe you should see for yourself)) at awesome prices!
# Stunning video and immersive surround-sound audio with up to six times higher resolution than standard DVD.
# Innovative interactive content enables PIP commentary, scene selection, and menu access, all while the movie is playing!
Finally, the joys of high definition content can be experienced by all within the UK thanks to Microsofts latest development; the Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive has taken more than twelve months of development time and over four million lines of code to make it to market, but will all that effort be enough to make us want to, buy, buy, buy?
WHATS IN THE BOX?
The contents are neatly housed inside a white cardboard box that echoes that of the 360 itself. Inside youll find the HD-DVD drive, universal remote control (batteries included), instruction manuals, a USB connection cable, power adaptor, installation disc and, for a limited time only, a free copy of Peter Jacksons epic King Kong in glorious high-definition.
Installing the drive is a pain-free affair. Before you can connect the drive to your console however, youll need to use the installation disc; this should take but a few seconds to complete, and will inform you when its time to plug in and power on the drive, roughly mid-way through the proceedings.
Normal plug-and-play common sense will allow you to quickly work out where everything connects to the 360, although theres a handy quick start card included to help those who arent very technologically minded. Those who own the wireless adapter will first have to move it from the rear of the console to the back of the HD player; but this isnt a problem, requiring no modification to the existing settings, plus youre rewarded by getting an extra USB port an all round perfect solution if you ask me!
The drive is mountable in a variety of alignments to suit your needs, and can be moved fair distances away from the console using the included cable; this is a particularly nice bonus for those who have problems finding space under the ever-increasing weight of their home entertainment units.
After the obligatory console restart, youll probably be asked to update your firmware once youre connect to the Xbox Live service or start playing an HD-DVD for the first time; this is an important step, as it provides a number of bug-fixes and added options for your drive, enhancing the overall HD-DVD experience. Its a bit of a hassle, and has lead to a few troublesome consoles getting stuck in a loop, but from a personal standpoint I had no particular problem with the setup procedure.
Horizontally or vertically, the drive seems a little bulky and doesnt really match the console colour-wise, eschewing the all-over white delights of the 360 for an unadventurous gray exterior; that said, there are a number of nice styling details (such as the iconic concave bevel that echoes the console itself) and a pleasant, glowing feather-light ejection button.
The device doesnt seem particularly rugged, and it seems rather obvious that this drive is merely a repackaged OEM unit. Still, none of these factors affect the performance of the HD-DVD. Whilst design-wise theres nothing to make you salivate, its *understandably* drab, especially when you consider that Microsoft is offering this unit at such a low price point theres no doubt it wont win any beauty contests, but its far from a hideous piece of kit.
The marketing information on the box claims that the drive will offer you up to six times the quality youre currently getting from standard definition. This is a matter up for debate, and one Im not going to touch with a fifty foot pole, but needless to say the picture quality is generally very good.
Naturally, your mileage will vary depending on what movie youre currently watching; brand new crisp, clean transfers of recently released movies offer you an amazing visual feast, whilst older material from a dodgy source is going to look positively awful, high definition or not! However, its wrong to blame the drive in these instances and just like DVDs, certain discs are always going to be duds and others are going to shine.
To cut to the chase, put on a one-to-one basis, youre going to get roughly the same quality of image from this add-on as you are other players currently available in the market. Whilst there have been reports to suggest that the picture quality on other, more expensive stand-alone players has been marginally better, the overall impact registered has been minimal.
The only downside, when it comes to the picture quality at least, is the unfortunate lack of an HDMI connector; this means that youll need to buy the HD-VGA lead if you want the full 1080p playback experience, although its doubtful at this early stage that your HDTV will even support this. Standard component output will max-out at 720p/1080i, which is probably what most folk are currently utilizing with their Xbox 360 anyway.
The lack of an HDMI connector seems to be the unfortunate downfall in the sound department too. Unlike other players that can output uncompressed tracks on certain discs, the 360 adapter down-converts audio to standard 5.1 Dolby Surround regardless of potentially better sources.
For most people, this will be more than acceptable. Youll still receive that immersive surround sound experience that you always have with the 360 and DVD. However, for the audiophiles out there, its a slight disappointment. Although various improvements may be made in this department at a later date (due to the updateable software backend), its unlikely that DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD will be making themselves known using this particular setup.
However, as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for, and you cant complain when the device is roughly half the recommended retail price of other HD-DVD players (and under a quarter of the price of Blu-ray for that matter!) currently on the market.
Traditionally, Ive been pretty unimpressed by Microsofts idea of what a freebie is. With my current accessories bill for the 360 running into the hundreds, Im not exactly enthralled with their concept of Value for Money. But, by gosh, theyve only gone and made a bargain-bucket HD-DVD player even more appealing by adding in a bundle of goodies with it!
First up is the universal remote control:
Traditionally retailing for twenty pounds, this backlit remote comes in pad-matching white and supports most brands of television as well as featuring 360 controller functionality. The buttons are made of rubber, which doesnt make for the most pleasant of textures, but theyre all clearly and logically laid out on the remote.
All the keys are illuminated by the green backlight apart from the TV toggle switch that varies between green and orange depending on the function. This indicator can get annoying though, as its only when a button is pressed that the current mode is revealed this in turn has lead to a number of frustrating moments where Ive turned off the telly by accident instead of powering up the player/console.
Regrettably, this isnt the only button mishap to affect the remote. Pressing the Open/Close button ejects the main 360 tray rather than that of the add-on; this means that should you accidentally press the button when swapping HD-DVDs, youll be left with an open console tray thatll automatically attempt to boot any disc present upon closing.
In spite of these minor set-backs, the remote is fairly robust and will perform a more satisfactory job at navigating menus than a control pad ever could. Sure, some may feel that every DVD player, high definition or not, should come with its own remote control as standard and therefore shouldnt be considered an extra; however, in this case, Id make an exception. I mean, would your normal free remote allow you to play your Xbox 360 games and control the TV with backlight functionality? Didnt think so
The second inclusion is a free copy of the 2005 remake of King Kong on HD-DVD:
Whilst I wasnt a huge fan of the film (too bloated, textbook remake, slightly too heavy on CGI in places, etc) it really does show off the advantage of HD over standard definition content. The picture quality is very good and the audio track remains strong throughout.
The only real problem I have with this freebie is that its a limited time offer, and by the time you read this review itll be unlikely that youll be able to obtain one of these King Kong packs. Personally, Id have preferred a permanent sampler disc be included with the drive and then a limited time mail-off slip allowing you a custom choice of movie (from a handful of titles) in a similar vein to the launch of DVD products way-back-when but still, its the thought that counts, and you could do a lot worse than a solid-transfer of a three hour epic
Even today, DVDs are still plagued by various archaic region coding schemes; locking content by continent has meant that many people have been unable to playback imported discs that often feature better image quality, bonus footage and exclusive editions. HD-DVD currently has provisions to implement a similar scheme, although no discs have surfaced as of yet.
However, theres a silver lining for those investing in the Xbox 360 HD-DVD add-on; the current drives in production are supplied region free out the box. This means that you are free to play back HD-DVDs from anywhere in the world!
Okay, the drive is still region locked for DVDs, but at least your high definition market has expanded to include the wealth of discs on offer around the globe, increasing HD-DVD choice from a dozen or so titles to well over a hundred (with three times that number currently expected in 2007).
Impressively, the RRP for the drive is a penny shy of a hundred and thirty pounds, and at £129.99 youre paying a far lower premium for high definition than you would be with a stand-alone player. Yes, theres always a risk that the HD-DVD format may fail (however slight that risk may ultimately be) but its certainly less dicey to invest just over a hundred pounds on a detachable player for your 360 than ending up with a large redundant box; at least this way, the worst youre left with is a treasure trove of auction-site booty
Well what can I say? If you want to buy an HD-DVD drive and you own a 360, then its really a no-brainer this is the player for you; its cheap, reliable and will give you the high definition content you crave for a bargain price tag.
Those who like their gadgets high-end may sneer at the lack of HDMI and uncompressed audio, but those with more money than sense are quite welcome to their inflated price-tags and ego.