Japan: Xbox 360 HD DVD Drive for Under $170?

The long-awaited external HD DVD drive for Microsoft's Xbox 360 reportedly may carry a suggested retail price of $168 in Japan upon its ramp up, which is currently scheduled for Nov. 17. While the standalone drive was not expected to be much more than $200-$225, MSRP $168 is somewhat lower than many observers were predicting. (But the Xbox's HD DVD drive is still expected to be more than $200 in Europe and North America.)

The drive will offer video playback only, and reportedly will be able to support 1080p, according to Reuters. It will feature two USB ports. The reduced price on the drive in Japan is widely seen as a competitive maneuver by Microsoft to compete with the ever-popular PlayStation console, with PS3 set for a November release in Japan.

Microsoft also is trying to take full advantage of several recent setbacks for Sony--ranging from manufacturing and shipment delays for the PS3 due to the game console's internal Blu-ray technology, to a recent recall of nearly six million laptop batteries.

As for rampant online rumors this month that Microsoft plans to include an HD DVD drive as internal standard equipment in its next Xbox edition, there is still no official comment from the house that Bill Gates built.