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Microsoft Corp., the word’s largest maker of software has announced official pricing of its HD DVD add-on drive for the Xbox 360 game console. Apparently, users in Europe will have to pay for the device a lot more than customers in the U.S. and Japan.

“Arriving at retailers in North America, the UK, France and Germany in mid-November 2006, the Xbox 360 HD DVD player will retail for $199.99 in North America (estimated retail price) and ?199.99/?129.99 (estimated retail price) in the U., France and Germany,” a statement by Microsoft reads. Based on the current exchange rate, gamers in the UK will have to pay $241 for the device, whereas users in other European countries will need to obtain the external drive for $252. Meanwhile, users in Japan will get the unit for about $177, the lowest price in the world.

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.

The Xbox 360 HD DVD player will come with the Universal Pictures’ film Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” on HD DVD for a limited time and the Xbox 360 universal media remote.

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