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Microsoft to Ship New Xbox 360

21 Mar, 2007 By: John Gaudiosi

After months of online speculation, a new Xbox 360 is reportedly coming soon. The new Xbox 360, which was code-named Zephyr internally, will be released in late April, rather than the holidays, as had previously been speculated, according to video game magazine Game Informer.

Microsoft would not comment on the box, but John Taylor, video game analyst for Arcade Research, has confirmed the new box and pricing with his retail contacts.

The new Xbox 360 will feature a 120GB hard drive and HDMI video output support. The console will ship with an HDMI cable (something PlayStation 3 owners have to buy separately). It will sell for $479, up from the $300 and $400 price of the two current models. That puts it just $20 less than the lower-end PS3 with a 20GB hard drive. Unlike the PS3, the new Xbox 360 ships with a standard DVD-9 drive, not an HD disc drive (PS3 has a Blu-ray Disc drive).

The game maker decided not to install the HD DVD drive in the new Xbox 360 because the format was “not proven,” according to a quote in Game Informer from a Microsoft representative. As with current Xbox 360 consoles, gamers can buy an add-on HD DVD Xbox 360 drive for $200.

Taylor said that Microsoft still has the ability to bundle an HD DVD drive with an Xbox 360 in the future when component prices come down. He said Microsoft is working a price advantage versus the over-featured PlayStation 3 for the current consumer.

Microsoft also will sell the 120GB hard drive for under $200 to Xbox 360 owners who already bought the original. The hard drive was built for upgrades, so the old drive slides out to make room for the larger drive.

The reason Microsoft is releasing the larger hard drive is due to the success of Xbox Live Video Marketplace, which has become the No. 1 digital-distribution platform in the market. With TV shows available for purchase in HD and movie rentals available for downloads, gamers need more space to store their purchases. The wealth of titles available digitally through Xbox Live Arcade, which allows gamers to download video games, is another reason for the larger storage device. And Microsoft's upcoming Xbox 360 IPTV service will certainly take advantage of the larger hard drive space.

“The 120 GB hard drive is going to be an important component because memory is going to be the gating factor with big downloads and TiVo-like functions of Microsoft's IPTV for Xbox 360,” Taylor said.

The new Xbox 360 is black, rather than the current white. It will come with a wireless controller that's also black, rather than the current white.

Taylor believes Microsoft will likely discontinue the 20GB Xbox 360 by this fall. He said with memory prices coming down, Microsoft should be able to offer two alternatives at competitive prices.

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