July 13, 2008
Microsoft has cut the price of its 20GB Xbox 360 Pro model from $349 to $299 as of today , according to CNET. Rumors had been flowing around the interwebs over the past few days after snapshot of ads from retailers such as Kmart, Radioshack, and Target showed off the 360 Pro selling for $299 and it turns out for once that a rumor in the home theater industry is actually true. The confirmation was made at the E3 video gaming trade show in Los Angeles and was followed by another announcement by Microsoft that they will soon be releasing a 60GB Xbox 360 in early August for $349. The new model will debut in both the United States and Canada.
Many wondered after the Xbox rumors started if Sony's PS3 would see a similar price drop, but it seems that Microsoft's price decrease was a response to the PS3's increasing popularity lately rather than a proactive decision. In fact, Sony has vehemently denied any plans to reduce the PS3's price, saying the company is focused on profitability rather than units sold.
May 31, 2008
It's been a busy month at TVSnob in May and it only looks to be busier as we head into June. This month will be featuring a series of hands-on reviews if everything goes according to plan, so stay tuned. While you're waiting though, check out a look back at May 2008 after the jump...
Continue reading: "TVSnob Monthly Roundup For May 2008"
May 5, 2008
Picking and choosing all of the right products to optimize your high-def gaming setup can be pretty complicated. The choices that have to be made between different HDTV's, gaming systems, and routers can be not only infinite, but for hardcore gamers, beyond stressful. But gamers of the world can now relax, because the AVSForum has come up with guide to choosing the right HD gaming gear. Their recommendations? When it comes to displays, don't get sucked in by the Game Mode featured on some of the newer models. The gains are so small as not to be worth the money spent. The best sets to buy are average 1080p models with HDMI and component video inputs such as the Samsung PN50A550 and Sony Bravia KDL-46XBR4. If you want to take advantage of digital downloads or online gaming, a network adapter is a must-have. Look for a good 802.11b, or preferably 802.11g, model such as the Linksys WRT54G, Linksys WRT54GS or D-Link's DGL-4300 Wireless 108G Gaming Router. And what about speakers? Full surround sound is the way to go. If you own an Xbox 350, which only supports 5.1-channels, try the Logitech Z-5500 or the Pioneer HTS-GS1. On the other hand, if you own a PS3 which supports 7.1 channels and you want to go all out, try the Onkyo HT-SP908.
May 2, 2008
That nasty Xbox 360 Blu-ray rumor is back again. This time, Taiwanese newspaper Economic Times is reporting that Pegatron Technology, an Asus subsidiary, has received an order from Microsoft to manufacture the Blu-ray box in time for a holiday release. Microsoft has yet to comment on the latest rumor, but we're sure they'll probably quash it today.
Back in January, gaming mag Electronic Gaming Monthly caught wind of an apparent plan by Microsoft to release a Blu-ray Xbox 360, catching lots of attention because at the time HD DVD was in its death throes. However, at that time a Microsoft spokesperson stated that the company still fully backed the HD DVD format, believing it to be the best optical format for buyers. That wasn't the end of it however, as rumors started rolling again after Microsoft dropped the game consoles HD DVD add-on following Toshiba's discontinuation of the format, and company CEO Steve Ballmer stated they would
support Blu-ray in ways that made sense. Just days later Xbox 360 product manager Aaron Greenberg denied his boss intended to imply a future Blu-ray Xbox 360 saying that Microsoft hadn't even discussed the idea with Sony or the Blu-ray Association. So now we have 2 rumors, and 2 denials by Microsoft.
But no, the nasty rumor continued when Digitimes reported that Lite-On was producing BD-ROM drives for the sole purpose of integration into the next Xbox 360 console release. And once again Microsoft killed this rumor too, stating that they wanted to remain focused on providing a huge selection of blockbuster games and on-demand HD content.
Whether or not Microsoft plans on integrating Blu-ray into the Xbox 360 isn't even important anymore. We all just want the company to officially announce their plans so we can stop wasting bandwidth chasing rumors.
April 21, 2008
Wow, Best Buy will actually come to your home and "professionally install" your Xbox games. Of course, just by using the words "professionally install", the big box retailer is making sure you're paying a premium for someone to head to your home, insert an Xbox game into the appropriate console and turn it on. Hopefully the pro installers will clean your house and make you dinner while they're there. Yes we know, probably misplaced labeling, especially with Best Buy's history, but we think its pretty funny.
Via The Consumerist
April 12, 2008
You may have already heard about this, but if not we'll tell you now. PS3 firmware update 2.30 will allow your game console to support DTS-HD Master Audio, perfect for those who use their PS3 for Blu-ray playback. Basically, the HD audio format will match Blu-ray's high-def picture quality, meaning a full high-definition experience for film fans. The audio format can also support 7.1 channel surround sound, delivering sound that is "bit-for-bit identical to the studio master" at up to 24 Mbps on Blu-ray. Look for the firmware update on April 15.
Via The Register
April 9, 2008
It seems Nintendo is attempting to make a move into your home theater, with a beta release of "iPlayer in your living room" today, enabling you to download the BBC's iPlayer onto your Nintendo Wii, allowing you to watch your choice of programming on your TV. The first step is to install the Internet Channel on your Wii, costing you 500 Wii points or 3.50 Pounds. Hopefully in the future, using the iPlayer on the Wii will be entirely free. Next to head over to BBC's iPlayer page, find your program and just hit play. It should playback immediately.
Nintendo seems intent on moving the Wii from a video game system to a full-on media center, developing an interactive TV guideearlier this year and allowing compatibility with the Moowee.tv interface last fall. We're excited to see what Nintendo has up their sleeve next.
April 3, 2008
The rumor mill just keeps going and going. We though Microsoft had put the Blu-ray Xbox 360 rumor to rest the last time they denied it, but it started again a couple of days back when Digitimes reported that Lite-On would be manufacturing a next-generation Xbox 360-with Blu-ray of course. Microsoft very quickly jumped all over that one and once again denied that the Xbox 360 would be getting a Blu-ray player. Of course, like most rumors, all of these statements are unofficial and said by nobody in particular.
"No. Lite-On is not manufacturing Blu-ray drives for Xbox 360. As we have stated, games are what are driving consumers to purchase game consoles and we remain focused on providing the largest library of blockbuster games available.
"For our customers who want a premium movie experience we offer the largest library of on-demand HD content available and the ability to play back DVDs in high definition."
Is anyone else getting sick of this back-and-forth yet?
April 1, 2008
Following the death of HD DVD and Microsoft's decision to discontinue offering the HD DVD add-on for the Xbox 360, we first heard from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that we would see some sort of Xbox 360/Blu-ray integration sometime this year. This statement from Microsoft's guy-who-should-know was quickly deemed a misinterpretation by the Xbox product manager, Aaron Greenberg, who said days after the Ballmer statement that Microsoft is "not currently in talks with Sony or the Blu-ray Association to integrate Blu-ray into the Xbox experience". Days after Greenberg quashed the Ballmer rumor, another Microsoft exec, Chris Lewis said that Xbox 360 users prefer digital downloads over any type of physical media storage device and with increasing broadband proliferation we would never see a Blu-ray player comingling with an Xbox 360.
Most of the back-and-forth has come from within the backrooms of Microsoft so far, but independent industry sources have now said that Japanese manufacturer Lite-On is currently producing BD-ROM drives for the next-generation of Xbox 360 consoles. That would mean two things we didn't know before-there'll be a next-gen Xbox 360 and it looks like it'll have an integrated Blu-ray player. Lite-On will begin shipping the BD-ROM's in the second half of 2008 meaning we could see a new Xbox 360 release as early as 2009.
The next-gen Xbox 360 is also rumored to be smaller than the current edition console thanks to a reduction in its power supply from 210W to 170W. The reduction in power should also reduce production costs, which hopefully will filter down to the final buyer (read: us) resulting in lower consumer prices.
March 31, 2008
Microsoft has reached an agreement with Hollywood producer Peter Safran's Safran Company to produce original video content for Xbox Live. The producer behind big names such as Sean Combs and Nia Vardalos says the first round of programming will be all scripted (no reality crap, thank goodness), run under 10 minutes, and focused on genres that appeal to the core 14-34 demographic of Xbox 360 users.
The first shows are expected to be released this fall, exclusive to Xbox Live initially and will be accessible via the paid points system currently used to access content from networks such as Spike TV. Revenues will be further supplemented by advertising.
Scott Nocas, global marketing manager of programming for Xbox Live says Microsoft is looking "at this as the first of many" deals that will see more original video content available on the Xbox 360. And while established filmmakers will be acquired to produce the new series', Safran says we shouldn't expect to see any big-name stars actually acting in them.
Darn, that could be one of the keys to success in digital entertainment.
Via The New York Times