Thursday, March 29, 2007

New Xbox 360 Annonced - An "Elite" Editorial

As you all probably know by now, the Xbox 360 “Elite” has been officially confirmed by Microsoft. After all the rumors that had been swirling over the past few months dating back to early July with this Engadget rumor, it’s about time Microsoft was forthwith, confirming what everyone already expected to be true. Personally, I am not too happy about this. Between this and my Xbox 360 recently crapping out on me, Microsoft has really been screwing me over as of late.

One thing that annoys me in particular about the Xbox 360 Elite is that it comes with a lot of things that should have been included on the “Premium” version at launch. The HDMI port is almost a must nowadays, as so many televisions support HDMI and it’s currently the de facto high definition input/output standard. If you want the clearest possible picture for your high definition television, HDMI is the only way to go.

What’s more is The Elite 360 sports an upgrade Xbox 360 fans have wanted since day one. More hard drive space. Six times more to be exact. No longer stuck with a measly 16 gigabytes of space, gamers no longer have to worry about deleting unwanted files to make room for new things. I personally have this problem since I have an abundance of videos, expansion packs, demos and Final Fantasy XI files (which take up a whopping 6 gigabytes of space by themselves) on my Xbox 360’s hard drive and I constantly have to decide which stuff I want to get rid of to make room for new things.

But the hard drive is going to sell separately from the Elite console so all my worries should be put to rest right? Wrong. The 120 GB hard drive is set to retail for $180. This is outrageous. Nearly half the price of the premium console for a hard drive? I think this is ridiculous, especially considering I can get a 500 GB hard drive for my computer or a 160 GB hard drive that is compatible with the PS3, for significantly less money. Now I understand that Microsoft is using a proprietary design here, which is very different from a standard hard drive, but still, you’d think they could throw us a bone here.

Another thing that bugs me about the “Elite” is that it’s still lacking features that would’ve no doubt made the package as a whole seem more appealing. What are these features? Well, internal Wi-Fi would be nice. Paying an additional $100 just to be able to utilize my wireless connection (which is the only way I can connect to the internet) is ridiculous. More importantly though, the lack of an internal HD DVD drive is the killer. Without that, it doesn’t seem worth it when you consider that for just $20 more; you can get the PS3, with a 20 GB hard drive and an internal Blu Ray Disc player. I know Microsoft doesn’t want to take a chance on HD DVD just yet because “the format isn’t proven” but it would’ve certainly taken an edge from Sony and made the package as a whole so much more appealing.

Now I know I shouldn’t be too upset because I’m an early adopter, and we early adopters have a tendency to be screwed over in the long run. The problems with this are simple. Not only is Microsoft releasing a new model for the Xbox 360 less than 2 years after the original, but they’re charging you more for it. Now I know Nintendo and Sony have done this in the past (Nintendo with their handhelds, and Sony with the first two Playstations) but in those cases, $130 (and below) handhelds are a lot easier on the wallet to replace than a $400 console and Sony waited 4 years before releasing the Slim PS2 and 5 years before releasing the smaller PSone back in 2000. Not to mention these consoles were cheaper than pervious versions, not more expensive.

In the end it all comes down to what people have been saying all along. Microsoft rushed the Xbox 360. They rushed it out of the gate early so they could grab a sizeable lead over the competition. Now it just seems like this is the console they would’ve released from the beginning had they not been rushing everything. I think the Elite is a big mistake that could just hurting them in the long run because, when compared to the PS3, suddenly it doesn’t seem so expensive any more, especially considering what you get in the package. Oh well. I’m not buying the Elite. There aren’t enough reasons to justify spending even more for the console than I did before.

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