Evolution not revolution is the name of the Xbox Elite’s game with an HDMI-out and bigger hard-drive the bait for anyone who managed to resist the original’s charms
It's reached that stage again in the console war. Everyone's made their big opening salvo – now it's down to all sides taking pops at each other from the trenches by releasing add-ons and special editions.
But even knowing all of that the Xbox 360 Elite is a peculiar beast. Sure, it's nice to have a bigger 120GB hard drive and an HDMI 1.2 connection, but is it really enough to justify a stealthy new paint job?
It certainly justifies the extra £60 on the price tag. If you still haven't plumped for one side in the PS3, Xbox and Wii War, you'd be bonkers to go for a non-Elite Xbox.
The hard drive alone is worth it. Hand on heart, the HDMI connection is nice, but it's shades of difference – and with HDMI slots often hard to come by on first or second-gen hi-def sets, it can actually be a bonus to be able to run 1080p content via a component HD cable.
There are also some obvious bits missing – like, why is there no HD-DVD drive built in? More importantly, why didn't they build in Wi-Fi, since the big sell here is about downloadable content?
Overall, the Elite is pretty neat. It still obviously benefits from the strong Xbox games catalogue. And the hard drive and HDMI connection is really Microsoft's way of promising Xboxers more downloadable content with some in hi-def, a process that's already well under way with Enter Shikari videos already popping up in all the game videos on Live and entire TV series promised.
But to then let slip – before Elite comes out in the UK – that the Premium Xbox 360 will soon be packing HDMI too makes this one of the most forgettable console updates since the Pikachu edition Game Boy Colour. You'll also soon be able to buy the 120GB hard drive separately, although it's still nice to have it all in one smart-looking box.
Ring of death?
The big question, though, remains unanswered. We love our Xbox 360, but we hate how often the damn things blow up. Will the Elite, which, like all new Xboxes has been subject to a 'progressive' series of hardware updates, be any less prone to going Red Rings of Death smack bang in the middle of a gaming session?
Ours remains green and sprightly so far – but for how long? More updates soon if the Rings show their glowing red face...
Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite review
If you're buying a new 360, get an Elite – simple as that. If you've already got one, this is pretty much a cosmetic upgrade