It may not have a new name, but the Xbox 360 certainly has received quite a facelift on this the fifth anniversary of its unveiling. The new Xbox 360 (aka the "Xbox 360 250GB") makes up for its familiar name by offering a starkly refreshed and, in our eyes, significantly sexier design than its predecessor -- which honestly was quite the looker in its day. Despite only just being made official, we've already had time to unbox and play with one, a dizzyingly fast-paced unveil that might have left you with some questions about just what here is new and what here is old.
Obviously a lot of things have changed in the last day since the new Xbox came to town. Let's take a look at the details.
The most striking difference between the two is the new, taught design that looks like an F-117 Nighthawk to the original Xbox 360's rather more Boeing exterior. There are massive vents on nearly every side, a giant (and, presumably, low-RPM) fan hiding on the right side, and that new piano black gloss sheen that Sony ditched for the PS3 Slim. It looks lovely fresh out of the box but should be covered in fingerprints in no time flat. It's also small enough that it fits right inside the old Xbox 360 -- or at least an empty shell made to look like an Xbox 360.
The new buttons, which we'll talk about in a moment, left us wondering sometimes whether or not the unit was on or off. That we were having such a problem says something about how much quieter this new design is. With the old Xbox 360, you always knew exactly when it turned on -- even if you were in another room you could feel the vibrations from that DVD-ROM spinning up. The new 360 model is far, far quieter. The drive still hums a bit and there is certainly some fan noise to be discerned, but overall it's a huge improvement to even the more recent, more muted 360 models.
Biggest news on the connectivity front is 802.11n WiFi built-in. Interestingly the system detects it as if it were connected externally, but it's right in there, meaning no dongles for you (unless if you want 5GHz 802.11n, this one is single band 2.4GHz). Also new is an integrated Natal connector on the back, something we're told will be provided on older Xbox 360's via a Y-cable. USB port count is up to five (from three), the optical audio connector is onboard the console, instead of on the A/V connector, and there are no more memory card ports... so if you've saved all your custom Forza layers externally, you're going to have to dump them to USB thumb drive and then over to the new machine. Not ideal, but better than nothing.