Saturday, December 8, 2007

Microsoft Xbox 360 Gets DivX Playback Capability

Shortly after the PlayStation 3 from Sony got support for DivX movies playback, its more successful rival – Microsoft Xbox 360 – also obtained the same functionality. The move came without any loud public statements; however, it is very likely that both Microsoft and Sony will put DivX support as another serious advantage over Nintendo Wii, which is on-track to outsell PS3 and X360 combined eventually.

“The convenience of full-screen movie previews and enhanced video codec support further expand the options when it comes to the Xbox 360 entertainment experience,” a short statement within a long coverage of improvements of the most recent Xbox 360 Dashboard update reads.

December 2007 Video Playback FAQ from Xbox Team does specify that that with the latest software update Microsoft Xbox 360 game console obtained support for decoding of video streams encoded using MPEG-4 Part 2, Simple & Advanced Simple Profile codec, which means that from now on Xbox 360 can playback DivX and Xvid movies.

The DivX and its brother XviD formats are used to distribute copyright protection-free movies typically by the Internet and usually without content producer approval. Both codecs are based on MPEG 4 ASP and offer balance between video quality and file size. To date, over 100 million DivX Certified products have been shipped into the market, and it is anticipated that Sony PS3 and Microsoft X360 will expand that number by nineteen million of units already sold through.

Microsoft Xbox 360 can playback DVDs, HD DVDs with a special add-on drive that sells for $129 as well as files downloaded from the Internet. Sony’s PlayStation 3, which comes with built-in Blu-ray disc (BDs) drive, can also playback standard DVDs, BDs as well as various other content. However, the main threat for both consoles – Nintendo Wii – does not have support for movie playback in any form currently. As a consequence, Wii cannot be positioned as a fully-featured multimedia hub, which is exactly what Microsoft and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. tell about their latest game machines.

Microsoft Xbox 360 console is based around microprocessor developed by IBM, high-definition visual processing unit designed by ATI Technologies, I/O controller engineered by SiS and some other key components. The gaming machine provides a broad set of multimedia capabilities in addition to games. Currently Microsoft Xbox 360 is available for $279, $349 or $449 depending on the version.

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