Yesterday, the announcement of an external HD-DVD player was made for the Xbox 360. As Microsoft’s Peter Moore says, “The new drive will offer millions of Xbox 360 owners the ability to easily enjoy HD DVD movies and will provide consumers with even more choices for experiencing high-definition content, in either physical or digital form." To Microsoft’s announcement I say, were you NOT thinking?
I really like the Xbox 360 hardware. I think it’s a very slick device. Microsoft has put a lot of features into the machine that makes it a very nice console to own. I also don’t disagree with Microsoft putting in a regular DVD-ROM drive into the system so that the machine would be out sooner. Waiting on an HD-DVD drive would negate their lead in the fight to be the first next generation console in the homes of consumers.
Now, they knew the PlayStation 3 would include the Blu-Ray drive. There were many rumblings about perhaps another version of the Xbox 360 including an HD-DVD drive to keep up. For a next generation device, incorporating the next generation storage format makes sense. If you weren’t going to be able to do it now to grab market share, you know you had to have the option to incorporate it in the future so that your machine doesn’t seem “old”.
The pieces were in place for a far more elegant solution to Microsoft’s console rather than having an external device be your option. You have a removable face plate on your console. Removing the plate exposes the drive and the front of the console. Wouldn’t it be smart attach the DVD drive to the Xbox 360 via sliding rails and have the locks be exposed when the face plate is removed so that a consumer could easily exchange the current drive with another one? We see it in various PC cases already where you attach the drives to rails. Why not here?
With this solution, I’m not taking up more room in my already crowded entertainment center by sitting an external drive somewhere so that I may watch HD-DVD movies. The console would keep its clean look as well. You could still market an external drive should someone want one but also allow that customization factor that you tout in your marketing blitzes. The ability to change out the DVD drive could also help out those customers who want to fix their drives from scratching their disks when rotating the console.
The announcement at CES from Peter Moore wasn’t too unexpected but the implementation could’ve been a lot better. I’m not going to get into the fact that Peter Moore specifically mentioned movies and not games for the new drive as that’s also another disappointment that I won’t get into here. The fact is Microsoft had the opportunity to make the console use next generation formats without making it sound like an afterthought. Now we don’t know what the drive will look like and how it will attach to the console but I’m sure that many of the owners out there would rather have the drive be integrated into the machine than being an external device. The solution just screams half thought out to me.
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