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Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software developer, has announced pricing and availability details of its external HD DVD drive for Xbox 360 game console. The new device will retail for less than $200 and its launch will coincide with the release of the PlayStation 3.

Microsoft Xbox 360 web-site in Japan claims that the device will be available starting from the 22nd of November for ?19800 (approximately $170).

The drive will enable Xbox 360 owners to play high definition movies on HD DVDs, a standard that battles against Blu-ray (which is featured in competing Sony PlayStation 3 game console) for becoming the successor of DVD. The drive will feature H.264 video decoder from ATI Technologies, who developed visual processing unit for the gaming machine. It is projected that the add-on drive will allow Xbox 360 to compete head-to-head with Sony’s PlayStation 3 which offers rival format Blu-ray playback.

Microsoft is expected to launch the add-on HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 game console in the U.S. by Christmas for $200 (which is more than likely to transform into $199 when retailed), according to an earlier news-story.

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