Microsoft Cuts Price of HD DVD Player, Offers Free Movies

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Microsoft Corp. is cutting the price of an HD DVD (high definition DVD) player it offers as an add-on to Xbox 360 game consoles and will give away five free HD DVD movies with player purchases, a sign the battle between the HD DVD and the Blu-ray Disc high definition formats is heating up.

The HD DVD player will sell for US$179 in the U.S. starting August 1, down from $199. Between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30 buyers will receive five free HD DVD movies chosen from a selection of 15, Microsoft said. The company indicated the free HD DVD movie offer was the same as that offered by Toshiba Corp., which is offering titles including Apollo 13, Seabiscuit, Constantine, Casablanca, We Were Soldiers, U-571, Blazing Saddles, and more.

Microsoft will also offer the movie "300" on its online service Xbox Live on demand starting Aug. 14.

The price reduction of the Xbox 360 HD DVD player may be aimed at Sony Corp. The Japanese consumer electronics giant, which is championing Blu-ray Disc technology against HD DVD, reduced the price of the PlayStation 3 in North America by US$100 in anticipation of the launch of a newer version of the game console.

The PlayStation 3, which contains a Blu-ray Disc player, now costs US$499 or in North America with a 60G-byte hard-disk drive. A newer version of the PlayStation 3 with an 80G-byte hard-disk will sell for US$599 when it launches in August. The Xbox 360, on the other hand, sells for US$399 with a 20G-byte hard drive, while the 120G-byte Xbox 360 Elite costs US$479. Neither of the Xbox prices includes the HD DVD player.

Sony and other members of the Blu-ray Disc camp have been able to boast a large base of users of its HD technology because of the number of PlayStation 3s sold.

Microsoft put out the HD DVD player for its Xbox 360 game machines as a way to compete with the PlayStation 3. The company is in the HD DVD corner, with Toshiba Corp. and other companies.

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