E3 2010: Unboxing The New Xbox 360 S

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Text by Evan Narcisse. Photos by Peter Ha.

Fresh out of Microsoft’s E3 press conference, Peter and I got to unbox and test out one the newly-redesigned Xbox 360 S.

(More on Techland: E310: Xbox 360 Press Conference Liveblog)

It’s much lighter than the previous iteration. The casing’s a glossy black plastic with chrome accents on top; the controller and otherr accessories will reflect the new design, too, with a mix of glossy and matte finishes.

In the box, you’ll be getting standard-def A/V cable and a wired headset. The power brick is smaller and, for the time we were using the unit, didn’t seem to get as hot as quickly as the old one did. The new power supply connects to a differently shaped port so you won’t be able to use old power supplies.

More on Techland: Surprise! New Smaller, ‘Whisper Quiet’ Xbox 360 Shipping Today)

There’s a new touch-sensitive button to power the unit on and the first thing you notice when the new 360 boots up is how damn quiet the thing is. (We loaded up the first level of Alan Wake and it was still super-silent.) The change comes from using one larger fan instead of two smaller ones. Thankfully you’ll be able to connect to Wi-Fi without needing to kick out an extra $100, too. Same goes for optical cables and HDMI, too. Both ports are now built-in and located at the back of the console. There’s also a powered port for Kinect. With the new model 360, Kinect will draw power from the console unit. Those using it with the older 360s will need to connect to external power.

Memory unit support is being eliminated for the new 360s. You’ll need to move saves onto the hard drive or USB storage in order to use them with the new unit. You’ll be able to use a transfer cable to move data from the old hard drives to new ones. The hard drive port’s moved from the top of the unit to the bottom, hidden behind vented grates. The 250GB drive slides into a bay and one thinks that bigger sizes will be available down the road. The neo-360 uses an intergrated CPU/GPU chipset, but there’s no change in processing speed. This is because Microsoft wanted to maintain backwards compatibility with older titles.

At first blush, Microsoft seems to have addressed a lot of the complaints that affected the last version of the 360. Stuff you were paying extra for–like HDMI, Wi-Fi and optical cable ports–are now built-in. Getting more storage and more USB ports for the same price is great, too. The biggest question will be how this affects those nasty failure rates (which we seem to be hearing less about). Like we said in the liveblog, it’s available this week for $299. (According to Gizmodo, the $199 Xbox 360, which ships with out a hard drive, will be on life support.) We’ll have more on the new Xbox and more Microsoft news throughout the week