Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The all-new Xbox 360!

So, xbox 360 is out, and everyone is crazy. But, is the game system really worth buying?
Well read on to find out!!!

The console features a unique IBM PowerPC-based CPU unit complete with three 3.2 Ghz cores, each sporting two hardware threads. Also included in every device: A custom 500Mhz ATI graphics processor capable of supporting 48 pixel shader pipelines and pushing four times as many polygons as the original Xbox. All systems further feature an impressive 512MB of RAM. In English, rough calculations reveal the Xbox 360 to be anywhere between eight and ten times as powerful as its predecessor.



But the machine's true promise lies in its potential to homogenize the way we all enjoy digital entertainment experiences.



Craving high-definition, cinema-quality content? Look no further: All games are 720p minimum and optimized for 16:9 widescreen viewing. (Note: Options for switching into 1080i are also offered). Even on the low end, you'll still enjoy 480p visuals. Can't stand most current titles' piddling audio output? No sweat – virtually every piece of compatible software's designed to support Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.



Online gaming? Check. Streaming video? Yep. Custom playlist plotting, instant messaging, photo album features, connectivity with USB-compatible devices, and options for purchasing content on-demand? That's a big 10-4. Ready to accept an Ethernet cable, 20GB hard drive, 802.11a/b/g wireless networking adapter or cordless controller with equal ease, models are obviously manufactured with hardcore gamers' and gadget freaks' every need in mind.



Still, the facts, figures and feature lists don't tell the whole story. In the end, any console – even the most functionally versatile – is ultimately defined by the hands-on experience. And, for that matter, the caliber of content users can expect from it.



Which, ironically, is where Xbox 360 differs from all digital diversions that have come before: A scant few hundred dollars essentially buys you not a children's toy or passing amusement, but honest-to-goodness high-end PC.



Fitting the all-white or "chill," as designers call its frosty iPod-esque color, system into any entertainment center is easy enough. Capable of resting on its side or standing vertically on end – although, seriously, why bother – the unit's smaller, albeit just barely than its boxy, black forerunner. Measuring 3.3 (H) by 12.2 (W) by 10.2 (D) inches and weighing in at 7.7 lbs as opposed to Xbox's 8.8 pound girth, it's a slightly more attractive acquisition in terms of pure aesthetics. Then again, face it – cream isn't exactly a hue that fits instinctively with most home theater setups.



Detachable faceplates, available in blue, silver, and woodgrain (each priced at $19.99) are also available for sake of system individualization. A dazzling array of further patterns and designs from Microsoft and its partners will be on offer soon too. We'll take a disaffected stance on the topic; whether the option of popping off your console's front and tricking it out with painted-on flames or looping swirls adds any value is entirely subjective.



Two memory card slots are present on the front of the machine. Ditto for a pair of USB ports hidden behind a hinged flap, through which you can connect to and communicate with MP3 players, PDAs, digital cameras, laptops and other portable gadgets. (Another, primarily intended for use with the wireless networking adapter, which clips right on, can be found around back.)



Oh, and lest we forget, given that this is a next-gen console and all: The front-mounted ports are also used for attaching controllers. Connection buttons and an infrared port also make it easy to synchronize with wireless gamepads and remote controls in seconds flat.

Good news for couch potatoes too. You needn't use the gigantic O-shaped button (a ring of light around which coincidentally designates which of one to four controllers are connected) on the Xbox 360's front to turn the unit on/off either. Powering it up or down can also be accomplished directly from the controller: Simply hold down the big X button in the center of the gamepad for a few seconds.

Custom IBM PowerPC-based CPU Three symmetrical cores running at 3.2 GHz each
Two hardware threads per core; six hardware threads total
VMX-128 vector unit per core; three total
128 VMX-128 registers per hardware thread
1 MB L2 cache

CPU Game Math Performance 9 billion dot product operations per second

Custom ATI Graphics Processor 10 MB of embedded DRAM
48-way parallel floating-point dynamically scheduled shader pipelines
Unified shader architecture

Polygon Performance 500 million triangles per second

Pixel Fill Rate 16 gigasamples per second fill rate using 4x MSAA

Shader Performance 48 billion shader operations per second

Memory 512 MB of 700 MHz GDDR3 RAM
Unified memory architecture

Memory Bandwidth 22.4 GB/s memory interface bus bandwidth
256 GB/s memory bandwidth to EDRAM
21.6 GB/s front-side bus

Overall System Floating-Point Performance 1 teraflop

Storage Detachable and upgradeable 20GB hard drive
12x dual-layer DVD-ROM
Memory Unit support starting at 64 MB

I/O Support for up to four wireless game controllers
Three USB 2.0 ports
Two memory unit slots

Optimized for Online Instant, out-of-the-box access to Xbox Live features with broadband service, including Xbox Live Marketplace for downloadable content, gamer profile for digital identity, and voice chat to talk to friends while playing games, watching movies, or listening to music
Built-in Ethernet port
Wi-Fi ready: 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g
Video camera ready

Digital Media Support Support for DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, WMA CD, MP3 CD, JPEG Photo CD
Ability to stream media from portable music devices, digital cameras and Windows XP-based PCs
Ability to rip music to the Xbox 360 hard drive
Custom playlists in every game
Built-in Media Center Extender for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
Interactive, full-screen 3-D visualizers

High-Definition Game Support All games supported at 16:9, 720p, and 1080i, anti-aliasing
Standard-definition and high-definition video output supported

Audio Multi-channel surround sound output
Supports 48KHz 16-bit audio
320 independent decompression channels
32-bit audio processing
Over 256 audio channels

System Orientation Stands vertically or horizontally

Customizable Face Plates Interchangeable to personalize the console



OVERALL: I think this machine is over an average computer and is worth every penny to buy, why wait for PS3?

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