Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Xbox 360 S 250GB Console Bundle ... Reviewed!

Just about a month ago, Microsoft made a big splash in the water by releasing the new, redesigned, 'slim' version of the Xbox 360. The new console, dubbed the Xbox 360 S, is sold with WiFi compatibility built in and includes a 250GB hard drive. The Xbox 360 S also takes on a new appearance, sporting a sleeker form factor that includes a slight redesign of the physical appearance system itself, while maintaining the same basic shape of the original Xbox 360.

The New Xbox 360 S

Many current 360 owners will ask themselves, "Is it time for an upgrade?"... "Is it worth it to upgrade?"... "Yes, no, maybe so...".

First off, considering how the new Xbox 360 S sizes up against the original Xbox 360, there is really not much of a true physical difference. While it's definitely no Playstation 2 turned slim transformation, the new Xbox 360 S manages to cut about an inch and a half of height, a sliver of width, and actually increase a third of an inch in depth. Microsoft also decided to cut down the weight from 7.7 pounds on the original to 6.3 pounds on the new redesigned Xbox 360 S. The actual physical resemblance between the two systems is very clear, although the newer 360 S takes on a slimming and more futuristic look.

The Xbox 360 S sports all of the same cable connections as on the original system, while also adding an optical audio jack, a dedicated kinect port, and a redesigned hard drive bay. With memory cards entering the final waning days of their lives on the 360, Microsoft decided to ditch the mem-card ports in place of two extra USB sockets. Interactive buttons on the front of the system, such as the DVD tray eject button have been made capacitive (touch sensitive). Overall, the system does make slight improvements physically speaking, although there is nothing that really goes as far as to stand out.

The most useful addition to the 360 S is the built in 802.11n WiFi connection, which allows for downloading and online gaming on par with a direct Ethernet connection. The hardware, although slightly updated, does not make any noticable improvements on processing speed (loading or installing games). Fortunately, the 360 S redeems itself by acting as a more efficient incarnation of it's older brother. Tests have shown that the redesigned system uses a third less power when playing and installing games or watching DVDs, and close to nothing when sitting idle at the dashboard. The 360 S is also stealthy quiet compared to even the newer Xbox 360 Elite systems, it hardly makes a whisper when playing games that have been installed onto the hard drive. Unfortunately, it still manages to act as a makeshift space heater when left on for long periods of intense gaming.

So is the new Xbox 360 S truly worth getting? For first time Xbox 360 buyers, the answer would be a definite yes. With many new games coming out this fall that are sure to make a splash, as well as the built in Kinect compatibility, it is hard to overlook such a powerful system. For current 360 owners looking to upgrade, the question is a bit more debatable. Most Xbox 360 owners will be satisfied with their 120GB hard drives for now, and a system redesign alone doesn't hold much weight in the eyes of most casual gamers. Sure it may be quieter and use less power, but those perks alone are most likely not enough for the current 360 owner to make the splash, unless you are own a Xbox 360 arcade or 20GB Pro and are looking to make the step up, or just have deep pockets.

Pick me! Pick me!

Fortunately, for those current owners who are interested, there is are ways to get the 360 S for less. A 'old' 20GB system complete with cables and a game or two (something you don't really play anymore) can be sold for $150 on eBay. You can even try asking if any of your friends are interested in the system, possibly through a social networking site, or even post it on craigslist (to avoid eBay's fees). Couple that nice return with an online retailer who is running a free shipping promotion and you pick up the Xbox 360 S for $299 flat. Not too shabby I'd say, but I'll be sticking with my trusty 120GB system for now, but I can't say I don't see a possible upgrade in the near future.

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