External 360 Blu-ray player already done?

Source: English tech news site X-Bit Laboratories. What we heard: What Brett Favre's return to professional football was to the NFL, Blu-ray Disc's compatibility with the Xbox 360 is to the gaming industry. It's been half a year since the last salvo of 360/BD reports, erupting at that time...

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Source: English tech news site X-Bit Laboratories.

What we heard: What Brett Favre's return to professional football was to the NFL, Blu-ray Disc's compatibility with the Xbox 360 is to the gaming industry. It's been half a year since the last salvo of 360/BD reports, erupting at that time thanks to a Sony "senior executive" telling British economic daily The Financial Times that the high-definition video-playback creator was in talks with Microsoft to integrate an internal drive into a new 360 SKU.

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With Sony repeating its stance that it would be open to a BD-equipped 360, a position which was echoed by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, the company's games division was quick to proclaim that no such talks were currently taking place. Aaron Greenberg, group product manager for the Xbox 360, at the time said, "Xbox is not currently in talks with Sony or the Blu-ray Association to integrate Blu-ray into the Xbox experience."

A seemingly unequivocal statement, to be sure, but do Greenberg's words rule out an external add-on for Microsoft's media device? According to X-Bit Laboratories market sources, that answer is a resounding no. X-Bit is reporting today that Toshiba-Samsung has completed development on an external BD add-on for Microsoft's console. Toshiba-Samsung is a joint collaboration between Samsung Electronics and HD DVD pushers Toshiba Corp.

X-Bit's sources claim the external BD drive will fall in the $150-$200 range, and Microsoft may roll it out as early as this holiday to mitigate the PlayStation 3's HD video-playback advantage.

Though Microsoft was a staunch backer of Toshiba's HD DVD up until that format collapsed earlier this year, the publisher has also kept its eye trained on the future of digitally distributed content. Indeed, one of the headlining features of Microsoft's Xbox Live dashboard overhaul due later this fall is integration with Netflix, a service which will let XBL subscribers stream movies and TV shows from the online video rental company's database. It's worth noting, though, that Netflix's massive on-demand library is only available in standard definition.

The official story: Microsoft had not returned requests for comment as of press time.

Bogus or not bogus?: Microsoft has been clear in its position that online distribution will be its video-playback venue of choice, and there's no reason to believe this rumor holds any more water than the many that have come before it. As was seen with persistent rumors of Metal Gear Solid 4 arriving for the 360, repetition does not always equate to reality. Bogus.

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