360 HD DVD Impressions

Xbox 360 with HD DVD Drive

If you thought getting hold of an Xbox 360 late last year was difficult, you should try finding one of the HD DVD drives. The shop where I had my original order didn’t get any and, according to my friend who owns it, Gem (the main UK Microsoft distributor for indies) only had a couple of dozen for the whole country. Gameplay told me that they couldn’t supply my preorder until, after much ado, it turned out that they could.

Obviously an external drive isn’t the most elegant way to play HD DVD but what this does is make an excellent stopgap until the standalones come down in price a bit. How many HD movie players are there for £130 again?

It’s admittedly a bit disingenuous to say that this is an HD DVD player for £130 when you need a £200 machine to run it, but a quick calculation tells me that £130 + £200 = £330, which is significantly less than the £400+ for the standalone HD players or the PS3. It comes with the remote (usually £20 on its own) and the King Kong HD DVD (£14.99 on Play), and when you look at the aggressive pre-Christmas bundling going on with 360 consoles I don’t think it’s a bad deal.

Pricing aside, the most important thing is how well this works. The answer is pretty well. Not perfect, although it does represent excellent value for money and the quality is very high. It’s certainly the best way to play HD movies without breaking the bank. Continue reading 360 HD DVD Impressions

HD DVD Hunting

‘Tis a sad day when you have to jump through more hoops to get a new accessory than you did the console itself, but that’s exactly the experience that I’ve had today while hunting for the 360 HD DVD drive, which neither my friend’s shop (there were around 20 in the whole country for independent shops, according to the distributor) nor Gameplay could supply me with for launch day. I doubt I was alone in this experience, so here’s my day.

I’d heard that a good number of PC World stores would be getting a handful of units each for general sale. Got up bright and early at 8am this morning so that I could be at PC World in Poole, the biggest around, for when it opened at 9. I asked in there and they said they were expecting a few but they haven’t turned up, and they might be in their delivery later that day. Went home via the Christchurch branch (the other side of town) but they weren’t getting any, checking every place that might have had them (Tesco, Currys, Comet, etc) on the way. No joy.

Then I had to go to uni so I checked PC World in Southampton while I was there, along with Gamestation, two branches of Game, Virgin, HMV, and CEX. Nothing.

On the way home I detoured over to Poole again to see if their delivery had arrived. Nope. Maybe Monday, they said. By then I was resigned to getting an import on Tuesday, obviously at a premium but not as unreasonable as the current eBay prices, so I went to cancel my unfulfilled Gameplay order which still said “Ordered” since I’d missed out on the initial shipment. Went through their cancellation process and then noticed – after I’d cancelled it, mind – that it had changed to “Being Picked”.

I rang them up to see if that was accurate and, if it was, to see if I could cancel my cancellation. The guy there informed me that they’d managed to get a few more units and mine had been shipped out this morning via courier, so I should get it on Monday.

A happy ending, then. Now I think I need to lie down…