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Xbox 360 Slim
Chief among the many surprises at this year's E3 was Microsoft's announcement of a new Xbox 360 console. The console itself has been rumored for months now, but the surprise came when it was announced that the new system would be shipping immediately, and available in stores by the end of the week.
While it wasn't on par with something like the Sega Saturn's surprise launch at the first E3, the immediate availability of the new console certainly took some of the wind out of Sony and Nintendo's sails at the conference.
So, what's different? Gamers are always quick to jump on the bandwagon and rush out to purchase something new, but are there enough new features in this new version of the 360 to warrant trading in your old box?
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The Xbox 360 Slim (or Xbox 360 250GB, as Gamestop is calling it) has the fastest built-in wireless capabilities of any gaming console. Fully compatible with wireless-N networks, the new system also features a built-in 250GB hard drive. The new console is completely ready for the upcoming Kinect add on, as well. While older 360s will be compatible with Kinect, only the new system can do so without the use of an additional power cord.
On the outside, the system has been completely redesigned. Touch sensitive buttons have replaced the old eject and power buttons, the memory card slots are gone, and the system has received a new, seemingly Alienware-inspired, case design. The overall dimensions are significantly smaller, as well.
The system also runs much quieter than previous iterations. It used to be that you could hear the tell-tale roar of your Xbox from any room in the house. Now you'll actually have to look to tell it's on, it's that quiet.
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What's the Same?
Other than the cosmetic upgrades and faster wireless capabilities, it's still an Xbox 360. It still plays the same games and they'll look exactly the same way they did on your old box. The UI is the same, your avatar still appears next to a series of menus and your achievements and game library are viewed and accessed in exactly the same ways.
If you're upgrading from a Pro or Arcade model, you'll enjoy the benefits of a large hard drive like installations and the ability to actually keep game demos on the system, but other than that it doesn't offer much in the way of upgrades.
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Should I Upgrade?
It comes down to the individual gamer and the system they already own. If you're rocking a brand new Final Fantasy XIII special edition Xbox 360 that already has a 250GB hard drive, it's hard to think of a reason that trading up would make sense, unless you just absolutely have to have the newer-looking console.
If you're still playing on your launch batch 360 or have one with a small hard drive, and you really want to be able to install games, download movies, and finally put some music on your system, then an upgrade might definitely be worthwhile. If you're going to upgrade eventually, anyway, you might as well get the latest and greatest, right?
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The redesigned Xbox 360 looks awesome, and that will be enough for many gamers to decide they need one. The increased ventilation and integrated fan inside should mean that gamers no longer have to fear the infamous Red Ring Of Death, and that peace of mind will make the decision for many others.
Ultimately, it's still the system you already know and love. If you have a classic 360 in perfect working order, are satisfied with your hard drive space, and aren't overly-concerned with aesthetics, then there is little reason to spend the money to pick up the slim model.
If you're constantly reshuffling things on your hard drive to make room, dislike external wireless adapters (or haven't yet bought one), or are one of those people who just dig new gadgets a lot, then the new system definitely has a place in your entertainment center.
The new Xbox 360 Slim is now the ultimate version of the hardware. While it plays the same as the existing 360s out there, there are enough new features to warrant an upgrade for those with older systems or a bit of extra cash.
- All references from author's experience.
All images from Xbox.com