Review: Slim Xbox 360

Last week at E3, Microsoft announced the all new sleek, stylish and Kinect-friendly Xbox 360. Offering things like built in WiFi wireless N (the first Xbox to offer built-in WiFi and the first game console to offer support for the latest, fastest and greatest WiFi wireless N), a 250 GB hard drive and that oh so nice new black design it seemed like a great update to usher in the next generation of the Xbox 360.

For new Xbox 360 owners this of course seems like a great deal, but what about for those with the older, original Xbox 360’s from the launch days in 2005– is it worth it to spring for the new update? Read on because we’ve got all those answers and more after the break.

First off, let’s talk about what’s new in this updated “360 Slim,” and how it preforms as an Xbox 360.

Design and Performance

The new 360 design vs the old

The first thing one notices in the new 360 is the all new, pretty much button-less design (the only actual button is the one above the front 2 USB ports for syncing up controllers). In my opinion this new design looks great. The touch sensitive buttons for power and eject respond pretty much instantaneously, and work for me even better than my old 360 (which I got from 2006 and yes, it has been replaced because of that infamous “Red Ring of Death” plague); and when you touch them, they make a slight beep to let you know it’s been pressed.

The new 360 is much smaller too. And I mean much smaller (just look at that pic above of the new 360 design next to the old design). Where as my old 360 with the 20 GB hard drive barely fit into it’s spot next to my TV, this new 360 fits in with tons of room to spare. Oh, and this new 360 is also INSANELY quiet. I’ve honestly never heard a video game system quieter in my life. You barely notice that it’s on, even after you’ve playing hours of multiplayer NBA 2k10 or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. After living with the lawn mower like sounds my old 360 used to make, this is truly welcome.

Ah, nice and roomie

Speaking of multiplayer, the built in WiFi adapter is also great, and so much better than the adapters older Xbox 360’s needed. Whereas my old 360 got one or two bars of my wireless network (it being the older wireless G adapter, not the more recent $100 WiFi N adapter), the new 360 not only gets the wireless N, but also gets 3-4 bars of the same network. Same spot, same network, better coverage and a great improvement. Graphics and all the other 360 features are pretty much on par with their older siblings, though I do notice a slight improvement in responsiveness and graphics (though that could be because I finally got my 360 running on HDMI! Yes, my other 360 was that old).

The only thing I don’t like about the new 360 design is the glossiness. While for the first few days the shininess looks great, after a couple of months I can definitely see it getting covered with all sorts of fingerprints and scratches, and I would have really loved if Microsoft had kept the older plastic of the original 360’s– but then again, this is a small trade-off for a sleeker, nicer design and a much quieter system.

Is it worth it for current Xbox 360 owners?

The new 360’s backside compared to the old– with wireless G WiFi attached to the old model on right. Notice the orange line on the new 360 on the left.

So yeah sure the new 360 looks great, and runs even better– but that’s not all. The new 360’s also come with a special port designed for Kinect. (Just to make clear– All Xbox 360’s are capable of running Kinect, just they will require a USB to be plugged into the 360, and a separate power cord for Kinect. The new 360 eliminates the need for the separate power cord for Kinect, meaning you only need to plug the USB into the special Kinect port on the 360 (its a normal USB port, just slightly disfigured looking– on purpose not an accident– and with an orange line next it as seen above).

If you’re like me and have a 360 that has been acting up (such as with a disc drive that doesn’t always open) and have had your 360 for a few years already, then this is a very solid deal; though if you can wait and don’t need a new 360 right away, we’d suggest waiting closer toward the Kinect launch in November when there should be package deals for getting both together as well as an updated Xbox 360 Arcade that should keep some of the new features of this new 360 design for that same $199 the old Arcade used to cost (however it will probably also drop some of the new features like the built in WiFi and 250 GB hard drive).

And if you want an Xbox 360 but you feel you don’t need the new design and updated features you may wanna hurry to your local Best Buy, Walmart, Target or to a site like Amazon and snag one of the “old design” 360’s like the Arcade or Elite. Right now those systems are all on huge discounts to clear stock for this new design (on Amazon for example, the Arcade is down to $149.99 and the 120 GB Elite is down $249.99. The Elite also comes with games like Halo 3: ODST and Forza Motorsport 3). Sure you don’t get the new design or the bigger hard drive and built in WiFi, but the extra $50 in savings means you can use that extra money to buy an HD cable. While all these 360’s have HDMI ports and support for HD, Microsoft no longer includes HD cables– be it a component or HDMI cable– with them, only SD cables (why Microsoft has stopped including them we don’t know).

Personally, I’d say go for the new bundle particularly if you want a simpler way to use Kinect or have a wireless network you want to use for Xbox Live– as this new 360 makes all of these well worth the additional $50.

There you have it, all that’s new in the very good new “Slim” Xbox 360. So, which 360 would/are you going with?

Posted on June 23, 2010, in First Look/Reviews, Video Games and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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