Microsoft is desperate to stop the PS3 stealing all the gaming headlines, which explains why its releasing a new version of the Xbox with a 120GB hard drive, HDMI output and a black paintjob. And a cool name.
It’s not out in the US until the end of April, and it’ll cost $80 more than the current Xbox Premium package.
So is it worth waiting for? And how does it stand up to the PS3? That’s what I was asking when I visited Microsoft today for a (rather biased) head-to-head comparison between the Elite and the PS3. Here’s what I learned:
1) The Xbox 360 Live online service is better than the PS3’s – it’ll give you more appropriate match-ups, more info on your opponents and a more consistent experience on different games. However, the PS3’s service is free – and its web browser is great. The Xbox’s browser is non-existant.
2) Call of Duty and Virtua Tennis look pretty much identical on the two consoles, although the Xbox seemed to deliver a slightly softer and much greener picture.
3) The Xbox Elite’s HDMI output seemed to look worse than the component out on a standard 360. Which is strange, but may be to do with the way the screens were set up. The HDMI picture seemed over sharp and the greens were fluorescent. A bit off-putting when playing tennis.
4) The Elite doesn’t feature an HD-DVD drive, but you can obviously buy the external one. There was nothing to choose between the HD-DVD playback on the 360 and Blu-Ray on the PS3 – at least with the demo Mission Impossible discs Microsoft were playing. Weirdly, HD-DVD looked slightly better on long shots, but Blu-Ray was better for close-ups.
5) Gears of War is a better game than Resistance. But I knew that anyway.
6) We don’t know when the Elite – or the video download service its 120GB hard drive is built for – will arrive in the UK. Or how much it’ll cost.
7) Black is definitely cooler than beige.