Sunday saw the release of a new iteration of Microsoft’s
gaming console, the Xbox 360 Elite. The updated version of the Xbox 360 is
dressed all in black, along with matching accessories, plus new features that are
aimed at those with advanced high-definition televisions looking to enjoy
“This console includes a 120GB hard drive, a high-definition
multimedia interface (HDMI) port, a high definition (HD) cable and a premium
black finish, and comes with a wireless controller and Xbox Live headset,” said
Peter Moore, the head of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business. “The
Xbox 360 Elite’s larger hard drive gives the gaming community an opportunity to
enjoy all that the next generation of entertainment has to offer – from video
games to movies and TV shows available through Xbox Live Video Marketplace.”
Priced at $479.99, the Xbox 360 Elite is the third SKU in
Microsoft’s console roster, joining the Pro and Core packages at $399.99 and
$299.99, respectively. Unlike Sony, who recently trimmed its PlayStation 3
lineup with the deletion of the 20GB console, Microsoft intends to maintain all
three product variants in the retail channel.
“Xbox 360 Elite joins the ranks of our Core and Pro offerings
that provide consumers with the flexibility to purchase the version of Xbox
that best fits their unique needs,” said Moore.
The Xbox 360 Elite will stand out from the rest of the line
as being the new top-end model for hardcore gamers and high-definition
enthusiasts. “Xbox 360 Elite’s larger hard drive and premium accessories will
allow our community to enjoy all that the next generation of entertainment has
to offer,” Moore added.
The HDMI port is a feature
that will remain exclusive to the new Elite console, but the 120GB hard drive
is one that can be retrofitted onto a Pro or Core system. For existing Xbox 360
owners who simply want to upgrade their hard drives, the detachable accessory
will be sold separately for an estimated retail price of $179.99. Gamers who
don’t buy into Microsoft’s justification of the $179.99 price point may brave
warranty-voiding tactics to build their own 120GB
hard drive for a $100 savings.
The general consensus regarding the new HDMI output is that
it provides a picture that is slightly superior to that from component cables,
but is not worth the upgrade for existing owners. Aside from the HDMI port, the
Xbox 360 Elite is almost no different in functionality of a current Xbox 360
console with the expanded hard drive. The Elite console still omits any sort of
Wi-Fi feature and utilizes the same types of optical drives that give the Xbox
360 the reputation for a being a loud console. Reliability, however, may be
something Microsoft is attempting to address with the Elite. Found in a recent dissection of
the new console were minor changes presumably aimed at averting the
notorious Red Ring
of Death that many Xbox 360 owners have experienced.
The road leading up to the Xbox 360 Elite is a long and
storied one. The new console version was officially announced a month ago, but
whispers of a bigger hard drive—something that gamers have long
demanded—started last fall when pictures of a 100GB
HDD appeared in presentation materials for Korea. Shortly after, an 80GB HDD appeared in
the flesh at a Microsoft press event pushing the Xbox Live Video
What started off with rumors of a bigger hard drive morphed
into rumblings of a more drastic hardware revision after pictures leaked in
January of a prototype Xbox 360 with HDMI
output and new scaling hardware. Microsoft’s Chris Satchell quickly
responded saying, “At the moment, everything you might have seen is just
looking at our experimentation back in Redmond, not really a product that we're
thinking about announcing.”
After a couple months of silence, the rumor mill spun again
after a gaming magazine leaked key details of an updated
Xbox 360 console dressed in black. Then the very machines in question were
snapped by a camera phone during their infancies
on a Chinese production line. Finally, an XNA Developer made it all but
official after replying
to a question about coding on the new HDMI Xbox 360.
The shift to a smaller, cooler running Xbox 360 chips,
however, is one thing that was unable to make it into the Xbox 360 Elite.
Microsoft revealed plans nearly a year ago to shrink its current 90nm chips to the 65nm
process, something that’s now slated for later this year.
quote: I'm a big fan of popping in the disc and playing
quote: I can also sell my used titles if I want
quote: I don't have to deal with apps like Steam
quote: I haven't spent a dime on my PC in quite some time
quote: since I never needed to purchase $2500 HDTV panel to watch nice 1080p games in all their glory
quote: tell me how well it will play a game launched 4-5 years from now
quote: So PC games are free?
quote: You can also rent console games
quote: I buy used or wait for the price to come down. Seems awfully reasonable, no?
quote: I don't like online gaming, so no need for a gold account
quote: you can buy newly released PC games for $30?
quote: I remember paying $45 for HL2 well after it launched
quote: I know that when I played PC games, I spent more money on it.
quote: You're telling me that I could get a good machine today, and that is true, but consider that I spent my money over a year ago
quote: the games on the 360 looks great already, so how much better does it need to be? It's like going from DVD to HD--sure, it looks better, but is it so much better as to justify the extra cost?
quote: Why would I want a PC that has no OS installed? Or were you counting on pirating that part? In that case, can I have $100 in stolen goods to go with my 360, too?
quote: And if you count blah blah
quote: I can also sell my used titles if I want...True for both PC and consoles
quote: I am pretty sure hdmi came before Sony's ps3, so they weren't 'forcing it', and they added it because a year after the 360 launch hdmi was cheaper and becoming more of a standard on hdtv's
quote: ...and lets not forget that M$ said there was no need for hdmi on there console.
quote: ...and theres no need for 1080p gaming. no one would ever care.
quote: and its not like the hdmi standard they used is the newest one. (its still the 'older' 1.2) and it cannot even process mutli-channel lpcm sound.
quote: And stop lieing, the only spec that wasn't out when m$ came out with thhe 360 is hdmi 1.3.
quote: Really too bad that M$ didn't care to have it come out with the HD technology in the first place!
quote: what are you talking about? the xbox 360 always had HD technology, the component cables included with the system can output 1080p as can the optional VGA connection...
quote: The 360 cannot display a TRUE 1080p signal. 720p is the limit for it's pixel-pushing
quote: Coming this fall: a 65nm Xbox 360 By Jon Stokes | Published: April 30, 2007 - 11:35AM CTA new report in the DigiTimes has the 65nm version of the Xbox 360's "Xenos" GPU coming out sometime in the fall. The new GPU will be made on TSMC's 65nm process, now that the foundry can make the 65nm eDRAM that goes into the product. As for the console's "Xenon" CPU, Chartered Semi will be making the 65nm version that's rumored to be slated for sometime in mid-2007. So I guess it's theoretically possible that we could see a version of the console with a 65nm CPU and a 90nm GPU before the whole thing goes to 65nm by the end of this year, but I doubt this.Microsoft will want to start using the smaller chips as soon as it is feasible, because the smaller, cooler chips will let them redesign the console's insides for lower cost and higher reliability. But they'll only want to do this redesign once for 65nm, in order to get the full benefit of the die shrink. Some of this redesign may involve changes to the board-level layout, in addition to changes in the case's cooling apparatus. These changes will make the Xbox 360 cheaper to manufacture, and those savings will eventually (but not initially) be passed on to gamers in the form of price cuts on the console.The upshot for those who're on the fence about getting an Elite 360, either as an upgrade or as a new console, is that you should wait until the fall if possible. The chances are virtually zero that a 65nm shrink will see a new form factor for the design, but a cooler-running version will be more stable and may last longer.