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Microsoft to launch gruntier Xbox 360

On April 29 in the US Microsoft will release an upgraded version of its Xbox 360 console that packs a higher capacity disk drive and high-definition video interface not present on current models.

The hard-disk drive in the new version can accommodate up to 120GB of data, which is six times that of the drive on current models. The high-definition multimedia interface will also make hooking up the console to a modern flat-panel TV easier.

The console will be the third in the Xbox 360 family after the standard version and "core system" and its launch will raise stands to make the competitive games console market even more so.

Launch dates for other markets were not immediately available.

The higher capacity drive will also be offered as an upgrade unit for gamers using current Xbox 360 models and will also be available on April 29.

The higher capacity drive will be especially useful to consumers downloading TV shows and movies from the Xbox Live online service.

The range of content available via the service in the U.S. is set to grow soon with the addition of programmes from A&E Network, ADV Films, National Geographic and TotalVid.com, Microsoft also says.

Movie-studio Paramount Pictures also plans to begin offering high-definition content through Xbox Live. It will make available "Braveheart," "Team America: World Police," "World Trade Centre" and "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut," and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release direct-to-video movies exclusively in high definition on the service simultaneous with their availability on DVD. Titles will include "Sublime" and "Babylon 5: The Lost Tales."