Microsoft threw a little pool-side party today in downtown Hollywood after their press event let out. We were naturally in attendance, and took a chance to fool around a bit with the Xbox 360's new peripherals -- well, the ones they let us touch, anyway. We were a little surprised they held out on us with the 360 HDMI cable we've all been waiting for, but in the same vein of high definition the first thing we wanted to see was their big add-on of choice for 2006: the 360 HD DVD drive. (You'll have to forgive the pictures, we had to sneak these ones since they wanted us to use only their press shots.) Click on for more.

Steel yourself for a shock, but the HD DVD drive was actually looking like it was just going to be a regular 5.25-inch HD DVD drive slapped in a 360-styled external enclosure. Now that you've collected yourself after that bit of hysteria, we can tell you the (non-functional) drive itself had only a power plug (which looked to be of the variety that runs to the wall, no adapter required), a mini USB host port for connecting to the 360, two full USB ports for the device to otherwise act as a USB hub, and a spot for your 360 WiFi adapter to latch on the back since it could possibly be displaced by the use of the rear USB port to get this thing running on the console.

Will you be able to buy their drive at a huge loss? If MS releases with a $200 or less MSRP to make the core pack compete with Sony's lowest-end PlayStation 3, you could. But will you be able to plug it into a computer and have a functioning HD DVD drive (either via USB or by tearing it down)? Will Microsoft introduce an integrated HD DVD drive into future "premium" 360 consoles? There are just way too many questions to be answered with this one people, but what we do know is that in one form or another this thing exists, and we can't wait to get our hands on the real deal.

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Hands on with the Xbox 360 HD DVD drive