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Xbox 360 Slim 250GB Review

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Even though it is technically labelled "Xbox 360 S", you will never hear it being called the 360 Slim, and with good reason. The new 360 weighs in 18% lighter than its predecessor, but only a quarter inch slimmer at the waist, with almost the same width measured at the widest point. As said on Endgadget, "Microsoft's taken its rectangular console and moulded it into a square"

There are a few welcome additions to the new 360, namely a dedicated optical audio jack (embedded A/V cable works fine as well), capacitive touch buttons (which seem a bit out of place after Sony removed them from the PS3 Slim) and a brand new hard drive port. Since the firmware update in April which allowed for use of USB mass storage, one could foreshadow the end of life for Microsoft's Memory Unit (MU), and lo and behold, the new 360 does away with the MU sockets in favour of 2 more USB ports. These are located on the rear of the console, next to the Kinect port.

On the bottom is a removable panel under which you will find the console's 2.5-inch SATA hard drive. The drive is cushioned in a fully padded cage that offers both protection and silencing, but is not user-replaceable. As mentioned earlier, capacitive touch buttons are used. While these may not be to everyone's taste, the uncertainty that is often present with capacitive touch is removed by immediate response from the buttons. Both the power and eject buttons chime when activated, and the disc tray slides out much quicker than Sony's slot-loader. A caveat however, the new drive does not offer scratch protection when the console is flipped.

While the outside has changed somewhat, the new 360 still uses the same silicon as the previous one. The 250GB hard drive performs on par with the 120GB from the 360 Elite, with installation times running neck and neck. There is no ethernet port, but the 802.11n WiFi provides favourable results, with only minor lag (everything except fighters can be played with no problem). An improvement comes with the disc drive: DVDs and levels are consistently loaded two seconds faster when compared with the 360 Elite, but it would be wrong to consider this conclusive, as Microsoft has a history of shipping different drives.

The new 360 is quite power-friendy, perhaps the most energy efficient unit from Microsoft. While it draws ever so slightly more power than the PS3 Slim, gaming and DVD viewing requires less power than the Elite. The system should stay quiet as long as you install games onto the hard drive instead of playing directly throught the DVD. The only drawback is the temperature signature, and even though the console uses less energy, leaving it in a cabinet or stacked with other AV components is definitely not recommended.

Words like smooth, sharp, stylish and more come to mind when you see the new 360 Slim, from the black console to the cords themselves. However, it does not offer enough to make it a conceivable upgrade. If your current system is too noisy, or you are looking for a more eco-aware system, then by all means go ahead, but if you have already invested in the various addons, then the $300 pricetag does not justify the upgrade - unless you have the Red Ring of Death (RRoD). For those who have yet to buy into the Xbox brand, this is definitely worth looking at, especially if you don't mind paying a little extra for an HDMI cable.

[Read the detailed and more comprehensive review on Endgadget]

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