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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Microsoft Xbox 360 slim: Armed to the hilt to take on Sony’s PS3

Xbox 360
There was a time when gamers used to drool over new platform announcements, and understandably so, as such announcements used to take years (generations in gaming lingo) to come by. The Xbox 360 has gone through four iterations with very minor hardware changes since the console’s debut launch in 2005.

Then, there’s the Red Ring of Death (RROD) problem, which has not only been a major annoyance for customers, but has also hampered the company’s image. So has the launch of the Xbox 360 Slim finally managed to put an end to the glooming RROD? In a word, Yes. But would it make sense for consumers who already own an Xbox 360, to buy the Slim version?

Big internal 250 GB hard drive and built-in 802.11n WiFi: If you look at the combined price of a 250 GB HDD and a wireless networking adapter (about Rs 8,000), the Xbox 360 Slim does indeed offer a lot more value for money than all of its predecessors.

Improved ventilation system: Overheating was a serious problem on older Xbox 360s. In the new Xbox 360 Slim, better active ventilation means that the casing is much cooler to touch. This could actually mean that the days of the RROD are indeed behind us.

Quieter: Previous Xbox 360s could get very loud during operation. The main reason behind that was the two small fans that would ramp up the speed as needed. The Slim version on the other hand, has one large effective and efficient fan.

Extra USB ports: The Xbox 360 Slim features a total of five USB ports — two in front and three in the back. The original Xbox 360 has a total of three USB ports. This is great for consumers looking to connect external HDDs and iPods.

Kinect ready: Consumers will have to buy the Kinect units separately when they’re released, but the Xbox 360 Slim will be able to directly power the Kinect unit, without the need of an external power supply. Consumers with older Xbox 360s will have to use an external power supply for Kinect.

Fingerprint/dust magnet: The new glossy exterior casing makes it look slicker than before, but the annoyances of fingerprints and excessive dust will have to be dealt with.

No component/HDMI cable included: The Xbox 360 Slim does not come with a component or an HDMI cable, but only a standard definition AV cable. An HDMI out is present as standard.

Performance: The basic gameplay and interface of the Xbox 360 remains the same as before, as does the controller design. It is fully backward compatible with all older accessories and games.

Verdict: For a consumer who doesn’t own an Xbox 360, the Slim is the way to go. However, for people looking to upgrade from the older iterations, it clearly depends on whether features like built-in WiFi and the bigger capacity HDD hold any kind of appeal. Looking at the overall context, this is the best Xbox 360 so far, ready to take on anything that the Sony’s PS3 dishes out.


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