The Xbox 360 will definitely have some grunt - here's what we know about the brawn behind the white exterior.
Microsoft put a lot of work into getting just the right look for the Xbox 360. The final design was actually the result of a joint effort between Microsoft's in-house design team, a San Francisco design firm, and another firm from Osaka, Japan. Microsoft conducted colour studies and performed market research to find out what a next-generation console should look like. The colour studies predicted that consumer electronics will be moving toward a lot of whites, silvers, and glass, and the market surveys said the console shape should be more "organic" and "wild" than the previous Xbox.
The final Xbox 360 design definitely has an organic feel, with its soft curves and seamless face. The chrome media tray and green "ring of light" power button add some nice highlights to remind you there's a powerful game machine hidden inside.
The front of the console is extremely clean. Aside from the previously mentioned chrome media tray and power button, it's almost easy to miss the small infrared window and two memory card slots. Since the standard Xbox 360 controller is wireless, there's no need for front controller ports, but the system does have two USB 2.0 ports on the front panel hidden behind a plastic cover. The rear of the system has a third USB 2.0 port, an Ethernet port, and a slot for a small Wi-Fi adapter. At this time, the wireless adapter will be sold separately. The system can stand vertically or horizontally, like the PlayStation 2. The new Xbox will also have interchangeable faceplates for extra customisation, just in case you wanted a different color for your system.
As mentioned earlier, the Xbox 360 controllers have been designed to be wireless. The controllers have a similar layout to the Controller S, but the black and white buttons have moved to the shoulder areas. The controller itself is well balanced and has full vibration support. You can get a rechargeable battery pack for the controller that can recharge the batteries "lightning-fast," but you also have the option of plugging the controller into the system via USB to "trickle charge" the controller while you play. The bottom of the controller features an input jack that accepts any standard cell phone headset for voice communication. Best of all, Microsoft has confirmed that you'll be able to turn off your Xbox 360 with the wireless controller.
Microsoft plans to release a video camera device for the 360 that will allow for videoconferencing, as well as add a visual interaction EyeToy-like element to games. Initial offerings could include simple parlour games like video poker chat or video checkers, but the camera might also make it possible for games to let you add your own images to them, like putting your face on a T-shirt or customising a hero character to look just like you.
It seems like a whole cottage industry has been built around discussing Xbox 360 media rumours. You'll hear such wonderings as whether the system will have a hard drive, DVD or HD-DVD, or possibly Media Center funtionality, among other things. The current design features a removable 20GB hard drive for game saves, Xbox Live file downloads, and storing pictures, music, and movies. Microsoft has indicated that it can make larger hard drives in the future if there's a demand. Since the hard drive is removable, 360 owners can use it to transfer save games and media over to a friend's house. Memory cards will be 64MB in size, but, as with the original Xbox, most users will only need a memory card to transfer data to a different system, since most people will already have a hard drive for game saves and downloadable content.
The Xbox 360 has a 12x DVD-ROM drive that can read Xbox 360 DVDs and the usual optical media formats, such as DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, WMA CD, MP3 CD, and JPEG Photo CD. You can get files onto the Xbox 360 through the USB ports, or you can take advantage of its Media Center extender capabilities by streaming media over to the box from any Windows PC on your home network. Microsoft will also offer a DVD Media Center remote control accessory that will give you easy access to the system's media player control options
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