Microsoft came through tonight with a press release announcing its $50 price cut for the Xbox 360 Pro (with a 20 gigabyte hard drive) model, which drops from $349 to $299 in the U.S. and Canada. It is pretty much on par with what everybody predicted, including us. But it’s not as exciting as some had hoped; the price cut is more like a clearance sale, getting rid of the older models so that the company can still sell a model with a bigger hard drive for the same $349 price.

Yes, for those of you who still want to give Microsoft $349, now you can buy a version for that price with a 60-gigabyte hard disk. I’m just waiting for Sony’s release now to complete the picture by saying something along the lines of: “No way, our $399 (40GB) and $499 (80GB) models are still bargains, considering you get a Blu-ray player.”

Seriously, Sony has said they’re not going to cut prices during E3, but there is a rumored new model coming in August.

The upgraded Xbox 360 Pro will come with a 60GB drive starting in early August, while the 20GB version starts selling for $299 effective today. Albert Penello, Xbox director of product management at Microsoft, said in a statement that people need more space to store digital content on the Xbox 360. You can use the machine to download music, movies, and game content. Since a 20GB version can hold about just a couple of HD two-hour movies, it’s not surprising that consumers want more storage.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Arcade, which has no hard drive, will continue to sell for $279. (They might as well discontinue that model.) And the Xbox 360 Elite with a 120GB hard drive will continue to sell for $449.

Don’t expect Nintendo to budge on the $249 price for the Wii console.

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