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This week in Xbox

Microsoft unveils the Xbox 360 during a pretaped MTV broadcast, edging out rivals to become the first to reveal details of a new game console.

Microsoft has beaten rivals to the starting line with an exhibition of its newest game console.

The software giant unveiled the Xbox 360 during a pretaped MTV broadcast Thursday night, edging out Sony and Nintendo to become the first to reveal details of a new console.

Xbox 360 The most anticipated feature among the Xbox 360's specifications is its high-definition picture display. Pricing for the device hasn't been announced yet, but executives have said the console will be shipped in Asia, Europe and North America by the holiday season.

The Xbox 360 will display games in high definition when used with HDTVs, but it will scale down to the best resolution of the television set, Microsoft said. In addition, the redesigned white console will be able to connect to the Xbox Live marketplace using a built-in Ethernet port and broadband Internet access. At the marketplace, gamers will be able to download content such as new game trailers, new game levels, weapons and vehicles for games, and more.

With high-definition graphics, incredibly fast processors and surround sound, the experience will be leaps and bounds beyond anything console gamers have seen before.

However, there are potential consequences to such high-level entertainment on the Xbox and PlayStation consoles. Game developers are worried that the industry will become ever more like Hollywood, with huge budgets, huge productions and lots of sequels, dominated by the few big companies that can afford to produce a top-shelf title.

The consoles are expected to take center stage at next week's Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, where trends, and in some cases bets, are set. During the holidays, companies watch to see whether their bets paid off. At this year's E3, slated to run from Monday through next Friday in Los Angeles, all bets will be on new gaming consoles from the big three players--Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.

"The major console makers are going to lay...the groundwork for the next generation, and all the developers and publishers are going to get, in some cases, their first looks at the new features," said Schelley Olhava, game analyst with research company IDC.