Product Type: Microsoft DVD players
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HD DVD - Dead But Not Buried
Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD
Member Name: hamm_sandwich
Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD
Advantages: The cheapest way to view HD movies
Disadvantages: Basic player - HD DVD is no more
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.
Summary: 360 gamers should certainly consider this.
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