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The New Xbox 360

posted on July 19th, 2010 by christian

The release of the newest version of the Xbox 360 came right before I prepared to move to my own apartment, where my roomate’s console would be unavailable for the first time in several years.  Perfect timing I guess, though there are always caveats with console hardware revisions, ones which make all the new features a little less exciting. Rather than research what these might be, I decided to buy the new 360 blind.  Here is what I have found:

– Microsoft continues to rip off their pals at Sony and Nintendo when convenient.   The new hardware has a touch sensor for the power button and disc eject, and it makes beeps when turned on and off.  That makes it work pretty much like a PS3, and when placed next to one, it kind of looks like a cancerous growth with a radioactive green glow to it.

– When stood vertically in all of the promotional shots, the console looks like it has been partially crushed. When laid on its sign, however, it merely looks like a smaller 360, concave faceplate and all.

– The Xbox 360 has had a variety of different pack in accessories over the years.  The launch models got the deluxe treatment, including a dvd remote, headset, and component cables.  It was a nice way to give early adopters a chance to take full advantage of their HD, all-in-one wonderthing.  Since then, the remote was taken out, and now so have the component cables.  Just like Sony, MS decided that the best way to show off a device with HDMI support is to give people the worst possible hookup possible, even though HD sets have become so commonplace that there exist budget models with absolutely no composite inputs.

But hey, you still get the headset!  Nice to know that Xbox Live (which you might potentially pay them for) is higher up on their list of priorities.

– As you’ve probably heard already, you still can’t move the console while running, or else risk having your game discs destroyed.

– The console is advertised as being “Kinect Ready”.  Does that mean that older models aren’t?  And what do they have to do to prepare?

On one hand, the mere existence of the new 360 probably means that the console on a whole isn’t going anywhere any time soon.  And yet its release is still beyond aggravating.  This is what the release of an Apple product revision would be like without the accompanying cult and logistics that ensure that older models leave stores on time.  Older model 360 bundles are on the shelf right next to this one, for the same price, with significantly smaller harddrives and no wireless features.  Hell, I saw the new 360 (with wireless N support) in a flyer right next to the $100 360 Wireless N Adapter.  These are the kinds of decisions that make Sony look like a model student, though hell if they get as much shit for their blunders. Then again, this seems to be MS’ mode of operation; make all sorts of “mistakes” meant to nickel and dime consumers, and rely on sheer popularity and consumer laziness to coast through unscathed.  It seems to be working well enough so far, and really, it says more about us than them.

5 Comments

  1. Tony said on July 19, 2010:

    I don’t usually write griping comments about opinion posts, but this article seems pretty ill-prepared.

    1) Just like Sony (with the PS2/PS3 Slim) and Nintendo (with the umpteen-million DS models) Microsoft released a slimmer, quieter, more power-friendly version of their console. Along with the Kinect-ready port, those are the only reasons for the relaunch and I don’t see a problem with it as they are all welcome improvements. All Sony did was to take away backwards compatibility and shrink their console. And don’t get me started on the DS.

    2) The “Kinect-ready” term refers to the special port on the back of the new console that will allow the Kinect device to pull power from the console itself. Older versions of the console will be able to use Kinect, but they will require the included power adapter for the device. Again, a welcome update.

    3) There have been 2 versions of the HDMI-ready Elite console (one 120GB and one 250GB) both of which dropped in price to $250 when the new unit was launched. All 360s that aren’t the new model have been discontinued and reduced (except for the Arcade system and special game-in bundles). Retailers that didn’t lower the price are just trying to take advantage of stupid consumers, and that’s on them. Besides, were they supposed to destroy all of the 1st-gen systems as soon as they received the new shipment?

    4) Only the initial 120GB version included an HDMI cable, and only for about the first six months after launch until Microsoft learned that people didn’t want to use their included, shitty, 3 foot long cable if they happened to have a TV that could use it. Sadly, most “HD TV’s” sold at mega-stores don’t even have HDMI inputs or internal HD processors which allows them to sell at sub-$700 price points (which is also why Visio became the #1 selling “HD” TV company in the last 3 years). Game companies are still developing most games at 720P or below because of this fact, so I’d rather Microsoft keeps the console price down a few dollars and doesn’t give millions of people HDMI cables they can’t use. I get mine on the web for cheap and so can they.

    So basically, I don’t see how any of the issues you mentioned add up to a problematic launch. Wrong price points and incorrectly laid out flyers are obviously not Microsoft’s fault, and the other complaints aren’t based on the actual facts. Sorry for the rant.

  2. christian said on July 19, 2010:

    You’re right Tony. I wrote this post on a smartphone during a week without internet access. It’s more of a rant than a technical piece, which is why I put it in the blog section. Since no one will ever agree on just what is and isn’t appropriate for anything labeled “blog”, I can’t convince you that this is a justifiable defense, but it’s what I have. The fact that you gripe about my mentioning of HDMI cables, when I only ever mentioned HDMI capability (I talked about component cables) means that either your reading comprehension or my writing are at fault. I think I know which one you’d pick.

    The fact that you make a delicate snipe at those who purchase budget HD televisions is a roundabout and unfortunate way to try and stay on topic. I know you don’t normally post comments, and perhaps there’s a good reason for that. You serve everyone best up in the ivory tower.

  3. Cunzy1 1 said on July 20, 2010:

    Wow Christian it sounds like you had a horrible new console experience which is sad beams.
    Recently, I was given a DSi XL (an upgrade from the original DS, which actually still worked Tony!) and playing around with it for that first day was but sheer joy!
    Let’s hope the future experiences with your console take away this marred first impression.

  4. Michelle said on July 20, 2010:

    I have to disagree with your decision on the HD cables Tony – it’s daft to advertise a console as HD and not allow you to use that functionality out of the box.

    Why not include it with the original composite/component cable bundle? Sure you can buy cable online fairly easily, but it could potentially break your first experience with the console if you have to play it in SD on a HD TV from day one.

  5. Tony said on July 20, 2010:

    Christian, you’re response only strengthens my fourth objection. It’s a system meant to be played with an HDMI cable … not composite, not component, not S-video. They keep those connection types to support legacy TVs but they know that there’s a wide variety of models out there. Are they supposed to include a cable for every conceivable connection type in the box? My point was that no other HD home video components come with HDMI cables packed in . If you think you’re taking advantage of your HD gaming console with component cables then my entire argument has been lost on you.

    Also, I was unaware that calling something a “blog post” means that it’s exempt from being factually accurate. My bad.

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