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HD DVD player for the Xbox 360

Microsoft has used CES to announce the Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on. The device hasn't been priced, but it will be released this year, possibly ahead of the Blu-ray-enabled PS3

CES has only just kicked off officially, but there's already one story that's dominating the show -- next-gen DVD. We've known about Blu-ray and HD DVD's technical strengths for a while, but the message is clear from CES -- they're both finally coming, and they'll be here within six months.

Even for hardened pundits like Crave, deciding on a potential winner between the two formats is a difficult call. The three biggest AV manufacturers on the planet, Sony, Panasonic and Philips, are all behind Blu-ray. But HD DVD players will launch first, and look like they'll be significantly cheaper.

Last night Microsoft dropped a bombshell that gave the HD DVD camp a further boost -- there will be an external HD DVD drive released for the Xbox 360 before the end of the year. Unfortunately, that's all the info the big M released about the new peripheral -- no exact release date, pricing info or photos of the drive were issued. But given the success of the 360's launch and its potential installed base by the time the drive launches, it's highly likely the console will become the most popular way of watching HD DVD. Blu-ray is having its press conference later today, so to witness this war as it happens, make sure you stick with Crave.

Visit our CES 2006 Special Report for more coverage. -GC