When Peter Moore lifted up the Halo
Special Edition Xbox 360 console at its reveal at the Microsoft E3 press
conference on Tuesday night, most onlookers were likely disappointed by the
lack of any truly new hardware, such as a built-in HD DVD drive, or price drop.
But easily overlooked is the fact that the Halo-themed console could offer a
glimpse into the future hardware versions of the Xbox 360.
Although central to the announcement of the green and gold
Xbox 360 is its Master Chief motif, a closer look at the specifications of this
special edition box reveal that it is equipped with an HDMI port. This in
itself is not groundbreaking for the console, as the Xbox 360 Elite as
it is currently carries the HDMI port.
What is interesting to note is, that aside from the HDMI
output, the rest of the console inclusions mirror that of the $399 Premium box –
including the 20GB hard disk drive. Microsoft could have easily just given the
Premium package the new paintjob and label it the Halo edition, but instead the
company made an active decision to include HDMI output.
At the time of the announcement, Microsoft’s Peter Moore
didn’t even mention the new console’s HDMI output, which perhaps could be a
sign that the company views the feature as one that should be a part of all its
future Xbox 360 packages. The price of the Halo edition console has not been
announced, though it should not carry much of a premium over the regular
Premium unit. For gamers looking to get HDMI output without the higher price of
the Elite console, this could be the answer.
The Halo edition console likely shares the same internals as
the Xbox 360 Elite, though the pairing of it with the 20GB hard disk drive
points to Microsoft’s desire to make HDMI standard issue. With every the
growing sales of HDTVs, Microsoft would be wise to add the output standard to
all its consoles to compete on a feature-set level with the PlayStation 3.
Currently, Microsoft uses two different scaling chips for
its console. The older one, codenamed ANA, is found in the Premium and Core,
while the new scaling chip HANA is in the Elite. Microsoft could be looking to move
completely to HANA scaling chips, along with the HDMI output for its redesigned
“Falcon” Xbox 360, which is said to feature processors built on the 65nm
Hardware revisions throughout a console’s lifecycle are
commonplace in the industry. Commenting on the discovery
of new heatsinks in the Xbox 360, a Microsoft
representative said, “Regularly updating console components is commonplace
within the industry and is a standard aspect of the business for a variety of
reasons including cost reduction, improved manufacturability and improved
Changes to hardware even occur to mature consoles. Sony
a new PlayStation 2 model which significantly reduces the weight the
console by simplifying the machine’s internals. Sony also removed dedicated
backwards compatibility chips from the PlayStation 3 in an effort to reduce
quote: With the Halo 3 edition, I think Microsoft is using the 20GB HD to use excess inventory and bundling it with Elite internals to promote sales and increase profit margins.