It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since Microsoft’s Xbox 360 first arrived to make HD gaming a reality. Five years in which the PS3 has emerged to vie for position as king of the consoles, while Nintendo’s Wii lurched out of leftfield to sew up the casual gaming market. In ages gone by, a half decade would most likely herald the announcement of an all-new platform but, as Microsoft have been keen to point out, there’s a great deal of life in the 360 yet.
Instead of a new Xbox 720, what we have instead is a complete facelift, providing the rather clunky-looking console with a sleek new look and addressing some of the design flaws that have afflicted the 360 since launch. The Xbox Slim (or Xbox 360 S) hits stores this Friday and if you have yet to lay your hands on Microsoft’s console (or your existing one has seen better days) then this may be the time to shell out for one.
When Sony retired the fat PS3, the console swaped piano black for a matte finish and touch-sensitive buttons for physical, pushy ones. Microsoft has gone in the opposite direction. The Slim is nothing if not pretty, it’s glossy black hide looking far more attractive under your 50” Plasma than the Elite’s off-black shell ever did. It’s more compact, too (as the name would imply) shedding both length and girth for a more subtle, wife-pleasing form factor. Superficialities aside, other points to note are the addition of two extra USB ports, a TOSlink for optical audio out (sans adapter) and a power brick that, while by no means svelte, could no longer be used to beat hippos to death.
It’s ‘Kinect-ready’, negating the need for an additional external power source when Microsoft’s motion-sensing peripheral is launched later this year, and the console finally has an internal wireless adapter, one that is pleasingly compatible with the newer 802.11n standard, allowing faster data transfer for those with a compatible n-series router. There’s also a hefty 250GB HDD to store all your data.
All of which is great but, let’s be honest, it’s not why you’ll buy the Slim. The major win for the 360’s new makeover is the completely overhauled ventilation system. Gone are the two noisy fans on the console’s rear, replaced by a single, larger fan on the side (or top, depending on how you stack it). Excessive noise has been one of the principal bugbears with the 360 and it was with unfettered joy that we put in our MW2 disc to be greeted by little more than a subtle hum from the Slim, rather than the usual accompaniment of ‘Airbus thundering down the runway’.
Of course, the most important aspect of the Slim’s new cooling system is one that will have to be tested in the long term: an end to the dreaded Red Ring of Death that has plagued the 360 since launch and cost Microsoft a pretty penny. With far less chance of overheating we should (in theory) no longer fear that 14-hour stretches playing Domination on Overgrown will result in the emergence of that dreaded crimson circle and the untimely demise of our beloved console.
All in all our experience of the Slim has been wholly positive. Sure, the gloss finish will show up fingerprints (solution: don’t smear your hands all over it) and there’s no HDMI cable or HDD transfer kit included in the box (though both can be bought separately), but this is a welcome makeover for the console and a vast improvement over the now aging original.
billythehick Posted on Thursday July 15, 2010, 02:42
I read about these. Not the consoles, the marketing trick. I'ts called Perceived Obselesence. Their product hasn't become obsolete and there's nothing new to replace it with, so they're giving a coat of paint and calling it "New And Improved". It's designed to make people with Xbox360s feel like they need to but a new one, when in fact they don't. It's not the lowest form of scam, but ask yourself how many hundreds of pounds you'd actually pay, simply to make your game console slightly shinier.
kenny fm23 Posted on Friday July 16, 2010, 11:57
"I LOVE BUMBUM" - SAID THE CHOIRBOY TO THE BISHOP
billythehick Posted on Saturday July 17, 2010, 12:58
A truer word...