As a tech journalist I have a good record with firsts. I’m pretty sure I was the first journalist to see the iPhone. Ditto the Wii. Also the Xbox 360: in the months before it came out I spent a lot of time in Redmond with J Allard and the other guys who were building it.
So I remember well my first look at it. It was different. It was curvy. It was feminine. It was friendly. It was a special custom color that J called “chill.”
So yeah, that’s over. The new Xbox 360 isn’t chill, it’s black. It’s not curvy, it’s angular. It reminds me of nothing so much as the first Xbox.
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In other respects it’s a step forward. The Xbox 360 was a rush job: it was engineered during a brutal campaign to steal a march on Sony. Microsoft was last to act in the last console war, first to act in this one. To do that they spent a lot of money and cut a lot of corners, and it paid off bigtime. But the 360 always smelled a bit klugey, and it’s high time they refreshed it.
So: It’s slightly smaller. It’s a lot quieter. It’s still got a humongous power brick, but it’s not quite as humongous as it was. It’s got five USB ports compared to the older model’s three, and two are in front. And: built-in wifi.
And — cue laugh track — it’s “Kinect Ready!”
(More on Techland: Is Microsoft Holding Back Kinect?)
The only downers are that it doesn’t ship with an HD cable, and that it’s, well, not that slim. It’s a bit slimmer. But it’s not going to make a real practical difference for anybody. Also — #petpeeve — the switch to touch-sensitive buttons from clickable ones offends my old-school haptic sensibility.
Plus that design. I feel like it’s 2001 again. J Allard must be spinning in his grave.
Or wait, no. J Allard is probably rolling around in a pile of cash.
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