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Microsoft stands behind HD DVD for Xbox 360

354w ago - Microsoft's director of global marketing for the Xbox 360, Albert Penello, told BetaNews this morning that the company will continue to push an HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360, but acknowledged the external nature would enable it to ship a Blu-ray drive if Sony's format became the new high-definition standard.

Penello also said that despite the rumors, Microsoft has never planned to ship an Xbox console with an integrated HD DVD drive, but the decision has nothing to do with the uncertainty in the format war. Because neither standard was finalized when the Xbox 360 shipped, Microsoft opted to use DVDs.

Changing that now could lead to confusion among consumers, Penello added, especially if game developers were to make use of the larger space on HD DVD discs. He admitted that Sony's inclusion of Blu-ray in the PlayStation 3 has helped that format, but said Microsoft's add-on HD DVD drive alone has outsold all standalone Blu-ray players combined.
Moreover, Penello noted that any customer who purchased the HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 was doing so solely to watch movies, while only a comparatively small number of PS3 owners have been purchasing Blu-ray films.

While Warner Bros. decision to drop HD DVD and speculation that Paramount would follow suit clearly hindered the format, Penello said...

Sony's challenge for 2008: Take on software companies

354w ago - Sony has shored up the problems in its electronics, and will concentrate in 2008 on bringing more video content to its devices and improving its software, said CEO Sir Howard Stringer.

"We will see if we can enter the battle against the software companies. This is probably the year we need to demonstrate that," Stringer said during a meeting with reporters at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Monday morning.

One of the first examples of this strategy will be an expansion of the PlayStation Network. The network now is mostly used by gamers. Sony wants to turn it into a platform to deliver video, too. Sony will hold a press conference in two months to discuss changes to the PlayStation 3.

The world, of course, will wait and see. Consumers and analysts for the past several years have complained about the functionality of the software in Sony devices. The company, along with nearly everyone in the electronics industry, has also been trying to bridge the gap between the PC and the TV for years. But progress seems to be occurring across the industry. Microsoft says it has put nearly a million intelligent set-top boxes into homes, and Sharp and Samsung announced new TVs that serve up headlines and weather from Web sites.

Overall, Stringer seemed to be in an upbeat mood. A year...

Ace Bayou Rolls Out New Gaming Rocker

354w ago - Ace Bayou, a manufacturer of "innovative lifestyle furniture", announced two new gaming chairs at CES, the X Rocker Pro-Series and X Rocker 4.1.

Said to be twice as powerful as the traditional X Rocker chair, both new models come complete with four built-in speakers plus subwoofer, wireless capabilities, and the ability to daisy-chain multiple chairs together (or connect them with other items in the Xfunctional media furniture series).

The X Rocker 4.1 also has "true" surround sound, which is designed to let gamers hear more audio clues when immersed in game play. Now, you'll be able to hear when someone's sneaking up on you right before you get fragged in Halo 3! The speakers on the X Rocker 4.1 are also removable.

Ace Bayou will also have some of their pre-existing Xfunctional furniture on display at CES, including the X Pedestal Wireless Home Theatre Chair (US$199.50) and the Evolution Wireless with Battery Pack Chair ($US 149.99). The company also says that their furniture is compatible with most entertainment devices: iPod, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, PSP, and DVD players. Good for all those times you thought to yourself, "wouldn't it be great if I could just sit IN my iPod?"

Xbox LIVE Server Problems Cause Achievements To Disappear

354w ago - As if the recent Xbox Live issues hadn't caused enough problems, it now appears that you can actually lose an unlocked achievement as well. I've had a recent run-in with this disturbing occurrence, and as always, 1-800-4my-xbox's Max was there to help me out – and of course by help me out, I mean annoy me while I try to connect to a real person.

It all started with a 400-mile trip home for the holidays. I met up with one of my friends to play some co-op Guitar Hero II, something that requires both people to be in the same room (no online play, which is why we didn't do it before).

We decided we would try to get all of the co-op achievements while I was home because it would be a long time before we would get another chance.

To make a long story short, we got all of the co-op achievements except for 800k pair and millionaire pair (800,000 and 1 million points in a co-op song, respectively).

We had done pretty well on Free Bird so we decided we would try to get the 800k - it seemed doable if we rocked out hard enough. We played quite a few times, getting close but not quite breaking the 800k mark. We decided to rest for the night and try again the next day.

After a nap and some cereal, we were primed and ready to melt faces. After two or three attempts, we...

HD DVD Xbox 360 binned because Warner switched to Blu-ray?

354w ago - The weekend saw devastating news arrive that's all but killed off HD DVD as a next-gen video format - Warner Bros. has dumped HD DVD and will release its films only on Blu-ray from May of 2008.

But insiders over at the AVS Forums - who are proper, actual insiders who work for companies like Microsoft, Universal and representatives of the Blu-ray consortium - reckon the decision could've gone either way.

Warner dumping HD DVD for Blu-ray went down to the wire - and it could've been persuaded, along with 20th Century Fox, to go exclusively with HD DVD instead.

In fact, they both nearly DID - an agreement was apparently in place between Warner, Fox and HD DVD backer Toshiba for the HD DVD WIN SCENARIO, only for Fox to pull out at the last minute and go crying off to Sony instead. Which gave Warner cold feet, so it went Blu-ray as well. It really was that close to being an HD DVD victory.

So if Warner and Fox had gone for HD DVD it'd be Blu-ray that'd look like the failed format today, and perhaps Bill Gates just might've pulled out an HD DVD-packing Xbox 360 from under his podium at CES last night, rather than blather on about a few new downloadable films instead.

In fact, I'd bet money that Microsoft's much-rumoured HD DVD-enabled Xbox 360 was one of the deals on...
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