Editors' note: As of September 2009, Microsoft is phasing out the 60GB Xbox 360 Pro model. It will be sold at a reduced price of $250 until stock has been exhausted. The Xbox 360 Elite (which comes with a 120GB hard drive) will be taking its place with a lower price tag of $300.
Check out our Xbox 360 resource page for all your Xbox 360 needs.
Microsoft's Xbox 360 was the first "next-generation" game console to hit the market in November 2005, and consequently has had a year over its competitors to improve upon its faults. With the fall 2008 "New Xbox Experience" update, the 360 further positioned itself not just a game console but also a top-tier media hub for the living room, integrating Netflix's online streaming service into its already myriad available Internet content. The service won't replace the high-definition content offered by the now defunct HD-DVD add-on drive because Netflix's streaming quality depends largely on the speed of your Internet connection and most likely can only display at most near-DVD quality.
That said, the PS3 is currently the only console to offer playable high-definition content in disc form. The 360's physical design has also matured over the years: The noise issues that have long been an annoyance have also been lessened by including a smaller and cooler processor, which reduces fan speeds.
The fall '08 update also added the option for users to install games directly onto the hard drive, further reducing the high-pitched sound of the disc drive and also limiting wear on the drive itself. With the current lineup of games, the offering of more online video content, and Microsoft's continued persistence of improving upon its system, the Xbox 360 has become one of the best consoles available. With the recent price drops, the company has made it even more tantalizing for those still on the fence.
In the past, the console's real Achilles' heel has been its unacceptably poor reliability: A vast number of Xbox 360 consoles have suffered the dreaded "red ring of death" error, a fatal glitch that renders the console unusable. It's been a huge frustration for even the most forgiving 360 owner. That said, Microsoft has made amends by offering a three-year limited warranty, guaranteeing replacement of those faulty consoles. Anecdotal evidence continues to suggest that the problem afflicts mostly older consoles. In other words, those manufactured in 2007 or later--the ones equipped with HDMI ports--should be much more stable than their predecessors. However, even these consoles have seen their fair share of red rings.