While Sony decided to equip the 20GB version of its Playstation 3 game console with a protected digital output (HDMI), Microsoft announced that it will offer reproduction of HD DVD video through unprotected digital outputs for the Xbox 360.
The news come from the Makuhari Messe, where the Tokyo game show 2006 is held (September 22-24).
The Xbox 360 currently offers a maximum video output of 720p through its digital interface. Microsoft said that the HD DVD player of the device will be able to playback HD DVD movies at 1080p and the game console will output the signal through the current unprotected digital interface.
The Xbox's HD DVD player will be available in Japan on November 22 for 20,790 yen ($177). The device is connected to the main Xbox 360 game console through a USB 2.0 interface. Microsoft plans to release a firmware upgrade for the player later this Autumn that will add the 1080p video output capability to the device. Owners of the Xbox 360 will be able to use the device's component HD Cable to connect it to their displays of TV sets in order to enjoy high-definition playback. And this because AACS, the industry organization that is responsible for the main content protection schemes of HD DVD and Blu-Ray, has allowed HD signals to be streamed at 1080p through unprotected interfaces, at least for now.
The AACS is expected to re-consider the restriction of HD signals though analog interfaces in 2011. Microsoft said that the Xbox 360 will be the main game console product for the next five years.
Microsoft also said that it has not scheduled to add any HDMI interface to the Xbox 360, at least for now.