Holiday Buyer's Guide 2007, Part 3 - Games

Xbox 360 Elite Console

By Rob Wright

Oh HDMI, where art thou? That was the question many gamers asked upon the release of next generation video game consoles. Because the Xbox 360 was first launched in November of 2005, it seems like there have been countless versions of the console released (though in reality, there have been five different SKUs, including the Halo 3 edition). Until the release of the Xbox 360 Elite this year, however, none of these consoles included an HDMI interface. Well, it's about time!

This Xbox may look the same, but it's got more storage and HDMI support.

Not only does the Elite include an HDMI interface, the console also comes with a 120 GB hard drive and an HDMI 1.2 cable (plus a network and a component/composite cable). True, it's the most expensive Xbox 360 version to date at $449.99. And yes, it costs almost as much as the PlayStation 3, which includes a Blu-ray player whereas the Xbox 360 console does not. Still, the Elite is arguably the best version of Microsoft's next generation console; HDMI capability is key, and its hard drive offers 100 GB more capacity than does the Xbox 360 Premium.

The Elite is currently bundled with two Xbox 360 games - Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, and Forza 2. And for all gamers who have suffered from Xbox 360 failures and the dreaded "red ring of death," there's a little good news, too. While there's not much difference between the hardware for previous 360 versions and the Elite - sorry, the console is still loud - there are a few improvements, most notably the introduction of solid-state capacitors. Will this eliminate the console's penchant for overheating? Only time will tell, but it looks as if Microsoft has made an attempt to improve its hardware. And that alone may be worth the money.

Those shopping for an Xbox console for someone special may finally be able to buy with confidence.

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