Microsoft showed the peripheral Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive for the first time tonight, and confirmed its Christmas 2006 release date.
The device has taken the appearance of a small Xbox 360 — a sleek, white box featuring a black drive opening. The company cast no real light on how the unit will attach to Xbox 360 itself.
The release of an HD-DVD drive for Microsoft's next gen machine adds yet another competitive element when compared to PlayStation 3, which uses Blu-Ray discs as its main storage medium. Sony was keen to impress on its conference crowd last night that Hollywood is generally supporting the Blu-Ray format.
Microsoft's route into high definition movies using the additional drive may be arriving later this year, but the company announced today that the first ever HD movie downloads via Xbox Live Marketplace are being made available immediately. Users can download the start of Gears of War: Road to E3, a "docu-drama", right now. The show concludes next week on MTV.
HD video aside, Microsoft has obviously found a liking for Xbox 360 peripherals. Also announced tonight were a wireless steering wheel, a camera and a headset for the machine, all of which are to be available this year.