Xbox 360 Elite: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Microsoft just released the latest version of their well-known gaming console, the Xbox 360 Elite with the price $479, together with Xbox 360 Core and Xbox 360 Premium, to join in the competition with their rival Sony PlayStation.

This Elite Version will be a permanent addition to the Xbox 360 lineup, not a limited-edition offering as rumors have speculated before.

Microsoft has equipped the new Xbox with a 120GB hard drive and an HDMI port to make the 360 comparable to the PlayStation 3. The Xbox 360 Elite won't be replacing either of the current models, mostly because its advanced feature set is designed to appeal to enthusiasts and early adopters - the two consumer groups willing to spend more than $399 on a game console.

 1)    System Comparison

A table below is to show you the differences between all three Xbox 360 console packages.
Xbox 360 Elite Xbox 360 Premium Xbox 360 Core
Price $479 $399 $299
Finish Black w/ chrome trim White w/ chrome trim White w/ plain trim
Hard drive 120GB 20GB None
Controller Wireless, black Wireless, white Wired, white
Xbox Live Headset Yes Yes No
HDMI port Yes No No
HDMI cable Yes No No
Composite AV cable Yes Yes Yes
Component HD AV cable Yes Yes No
Ethernet cable Yes Yes No

The the most optimal point of the Xbox 360 Elite is the 120GB hard drive and the brand new HDMI port that supports 1080p movie playback. Larger hard drive will let the owners store more games and easily download all the HD videos Xbox Live Marketplace. But please note that the Elite system does not have a built-in HD-DVD player, which is somewhat, a minus point since even the basic $499 PlayStation 3 comes with a Blu-ray drive.

Aside from the hard drive and HDMI differences, the underlying hardware in all three models remains the same. Maybe we're all going to have to wait a little while longer for that smaller, cooler CPU design in the nearest future.

2)    Accessories

The Xbox 360 Elite has a new black and chrome color scheme and the package includes a matching black wireless controller and headset - which is completely different from the 2 older versions. Additional controllers will retail for $49.

As usual, Microsoft will also sell the Xbox 360 Play & Charge kits and Xbox 360 rechargeable accessories separately for $19 and $11, but unfortunately they still don't have any plan to offer the black versions of other popular accessories such as the Xbox Live Vision camera or the Xbox 360 HD-DVD player.

3)    Upgrade Options

A $179 120GB detachable hard drive will be offered for all existing Xbox 360 owners as a stand-alone upgrade, to make it easy for console owners to move data from their old 20GB drive to the new 120GB drive. The price is expected to fall as people put their old drives up for sale.

Transferring hard drive information will be a little more complicated for people planning to move from the Xbox 360 Premium to an Xbox 360 Elite since a lot of Xbox Marketplace content is tied to your Xbox Live profile and the console you're using at the time of purchase. That means console owners will have trouble using a data-transfer cable to copy all the downloaded content from an existing 20GB system to a completely new Elite system.

Once you switch systems, the only way to get at that content will be to log into Xbox Live with the account that you used to make the original purchase. Other accounts on the new system won't be able to access the downloaded content.

Microsoft is working on a solution to the Premium-to-Elite data transfer issue and told GameSpot that it will release more information as we get closer to launch.

The Xbox 360 Elite system, black accessories, and stand-alone 120GB hard drive upgrade will all be available in retail on April 29, 2007. Till then, what do you think about this new upgraded version? Is it worth the $479 or not?