The Xbox 360 Elite will come with one matching black wireless controller and headset. Black controllers, headsets and batteries will also be available in stores.

The new Xbox 360 Elite retail packaging.
Microsoft's new Xbox 360 Elite features a 120GB HDD, HDMI output and a $479.99 price tag

After months of unofficial information, Microsoft today has finally pulled the cover off its upgraded console—the Xbox 360 Elite. Corroborating on all previous information, the Xbox 360 Elite will feature a 120GB hard disk drive, up from 20GB in the ‘Premium’ console, and an HDMI output for connection to high-definition televisions.

The new upgraded Microsoft system will be easily distinguishable from the current Xbox 360 consoles by its color—the Xbox 360 Elite will come in a premium black finish for the console, wireless controller and Xbox Live headset. Additional Xbox 360 Elite accessories, such as the black Xbox 360 Wireless Controller, Xbox 360 Play & Charge kit and the Xbox 360 rechargeable battery, will be available separately.

 “Today’s games and entertainment enthusiast has an insatiable appetite for digital high-definition content,” said Peter Moore, corporate vice president for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “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.”

Xbox 360 Elite will have an estimated retail price of $479.99 and is expected to begin arriving in U.S. stores on April 29. 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.

The road leading up to the Xbox 360 Elite is a long and storied one. 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 Marketplace.

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.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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