Who will buy the Xbox 360 Elite?

Feature: Can it really stand toe-to-toe with PS3?

Yesterday it was "rumour and speculation" but today Microsoft finally coughed up its plans for the Elite Xbox 360, HDMI, beefy hard drive and all. Except a European release date.

The updated system arrive in North America on April 29 for $479 USD (£244 GBP), with European and Japanese releases following later in the year.

Storage Shock
As previously speculated by the world and its dog, the Elite system will come with a number of improvements over the vanilla premium package, the most notable of which is the addition of a 120GB hard drive.


This will undoubtedly prove more and more useful as Microsoft's ever-growing Xbox Live Marketplace vision expands. In the US HD movie and television downloads are already available (and promised for Europe "in the coming future"). Xbox Live Arcade games games are also going to be hogging more and more of your hard drive space now that the limit's been upped to 150MB.

Does the world need a bigger Xbox 360? We don't right now, especially here in Europe where Video Marketplace is yet to emerge.

We thought the best chaps to ask about filling hard drives would be those bums over on Official Xbox Magazine - who by law have to fill their drives with every last gamer pic and theme on Live.

Apparently they feel the same as us; that unless you're going to go a bit mental on Marketplace you can live comfortably with 20 gigs. For now.

Some people will happily download a truckload of game demos and still rip every last album Phil Collins has ever made. It's clear the demand for a larger drive is there, but considering that current core or premium owners can shell out $179 USD (£91 GB) for the boosted hard drive why should anyone upgrade to the whole Elite console?

Could it be for the built-in HDMI port, which other than a very slight improvement in visual quality offers the convenience of having both audio and visual signals through a single cable.

We've tested both HDMI and Component connections side by side (on a PS3, mind you) and only when you've literally got both pictures together on a picture-in-picture set-up can you notice the slightly sharper picture of the HDMI connection. Definitely then, a purchase decision on the merit of this new connection is going to be made by hardcore TV enthusiasts only.

Inevitable comparisons
The question everyone will be asking is how the Xbox 360 Elite stands up to the slightly pricier PlayStation 3. Of course the most blatant omission to the package is the Xbox 360's HD-DVD support, the equivalent of Sony's built-in Blu-ray.


Seeming as the 360 doesn't - and most likely never will - use HD-DVD for games (and of course it's $130 cheaper) this is a somewhat of moot point, but if you absolutely must match the PS3's movie playback capabilities the extra £130 for an Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive will bring you roughly upto the same spec, and price as Sony's console.

It should also be noted that US gamers are getting considerably more gigabytes for the $79 they're paying over the 20GB premium console, than if they were to pay the extra $100 over the lowest PS3 model for the extra 40GB.

So with the neat price difference consolation for no HD movie play back considered, the Elite stands up quite nicely alongside the PS3. What it's missing is the ability to charge wireless controllers out of the box and all of the PS3's wireless internet capabilities. But then the PS3 can't actually be hooked up to a HD TV out of the box, can it?

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