Product Type: Microsoft DVD players
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Microsoft Xbox 360 HD-DVD Player.... A Pure Bargain
Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD
Member Name: BlueStreak
Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD
Date: 15/08/11, updated on 19/08/11 (18 review reads)
Advantages: Player very cheap to buy, HD-DVDs very cheap to buy, great quality audio and video
Disadvantages: HD-DVDs no longer being released
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.
Summary: It's very cheap to buy, so I consider it a win-win investment. You'll own a great piece of history
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