Xbox vs. PS3 Provide Clear Format, Price Choices

With all the rumble and chatter online these days, you'd almost think the release of PlayStation 3 was next week -- not half a year from now. But the carefully calculated release of new product details in recent weeks has launched a war of words between Xbox and PS3 loyalists (with Nintendo also in the fray), which likely will only get louder in the next six months.

The big news continues to be PS3's announced price points of up to $600 in the U.S., -- which may seem steep for a game console, but perhaps more of a bargain when you throw in that Blu-ray drive. (Still, Nintendo joked that its stock went up when PS3 prices were revealed.)

Some industry observers and video game critics question whether Sony is still the innovative frontrunner in the video-games world, and if its legions of followers will sit patiently this time around and await the eventual release of PS3, regardless of price points hovering around $500 (20 GB hard drive) and $600 (60 GB). Conventional wisdom, it seems, dictates that in the end, no one will beat Sony at its own "games."

Or, some ask, is this the Sony that will live to regret launching PS3 a full year after the Xbox 360, in a climate where Bill Gates boldly predicts his console will be in 10 million homes by November. (He's about halfway there now).

Both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 are products of enormous potential importance to the next-gen of high-def DVD; the HD DVD drive will sync with the Xbox soon as an add-on, while rival Sony is betting that PS3 will eventually place several million Blu-ray drives in households and on campuses throughout the planet. While the lesser Sony PS3 will go for around $500, Sony's standalone Blu-ray player is about $1,000. This week, some game publications are saying Microsoft is determined to keep the combined price of its Xbox 360 with a HD DVD drive well under PS3's expected points.

Also, a few online game critics point out that the less costly PS3 model will lack HDMI output for newer HD sets (as does Xbox 360), which conceivably could provide copyright infringement problems, and thus, less than HD quality down the road.