A few weeks ago, Joystiq ran an article that linked to an in-store flyer with an Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive priced for only $99. The actual price is $200. That’s a steal if I ever saw one. In my warped little mind, I couldn’t afford not to buy it.
So, with a little underhanded deviousness, I lied my way into getting the HD-DVD drive for half the MSRP. Obviously I giggled like a little school girl the moment I walked out of the store. But was it still worth it?
First off, the drive is very easy to setup. You just connect it to the 360 through a USB cable. You then update the 360 with the driver that comes with it. To then access the drive, the 360 will break the DVD Tray option into two different categories, letting you chose the DVD tray or the HD-DVD one. It’s extremely easy, taking only minutes to get up and running.
For your viewing pleasure, Microsoft decided to bundle in the HD-DVD version of Peter Jackson’s King Kong with the system. Far be it for me to say if this was the right movie to bundle the system with, but what I can say is that the visual fidelity you get with HD-DVD is simply amazing. Everything is so clear and crisp that you’ll start to think your TV is actually a window, rather that a complicated mess of wires and pixels. The color also saw a huge jump in terms of vibrancy.
Another cool feature that HD-DVD has is the ability to access the scene selection menu while the movie still runs. You don’t have to stop the movie and access it, like DVD’s. It’s all up front for the user, which is very helpful.
If you’re still working with SD, however, then I wouldn’t even bother with the drive. You’ll probably see no difference if your still in 480i, prehistoric times. I have a TV that supports 1080i, so I’m in the clear.
For $99, the player is awesome. Amazing picture clarity in a neat little package. You even get a 360 Universal Remote to control all the high-res options. But for $200? I’d probably have to say no. It really only helps in terms of picture quality. It’s not like a game system where it opens up a totally new form of digital entertainment.
Also, HD-DVD movies are currently ranging from $25- $35, while most DVD’s are still around the $20 mark. If you don’t have an HDTV, there’s little point to get the player. Add in the fact that the HD-DVD standard may lose out to Blu-Ray at some point in the future, and you have more than enough reason to hold up on the purchase.
Still pretty awesome that I stuck it to “The Man,” though.