Microsoft unveiled their newest gaming products earlier this week at the official annual hardcore nerd symposium a.k.a. the Electric Entertainment Expo (E3 for short) in Los Angeles, CA and left us – yes even us medium-bodied geeks – wanting more. While certainly fresh and refined, Microsoft’s two intended star prize fighters weren’t the sort of game-changers featured in past Expos – such as the initial introductions of the Xbox 360 or the Kinect prototype – but instead showcased mere tweaks and fine-tuning to those already-revealed gadgets. First up: the “Xbox Slim.”
Sporting both a jet-black and slimmed-down casing, the new Xbox 360 (unofficially dubbed the “Slim”) received some needed aesthetic refinements to keep pace with Sony’s PS3 Slim and Nintendo’s Black Wii consoles, but the important updates are in the hardware. The new Xbox boasts a 250GB internal hard drive (dramatically improved over the original 360’s 20 GB drive), built-in Wi-Fi (it was previously sold as an peripheral attachment), and a reconfiguration of the internal processor and chipsets (detailed here for the tech-savvy readers) all for the same price as the original model: $299. The units are shipping and already on sale at the major big-box retailers.
Microsoft also made public their finalized release of a previously-announced motion-sensing gaming device – the Kinect – formerly known as Project Natal (pictured above). The contraption is intended for use with the Xbox 360 console and is billed as an “entire body” gaming controller by Microsoft. That is to say that instead of the standard gaming controller utilized by every gaming console ever created, the Kinect will turn the player himself into the controller allowing for full-range body-controlled motion transference. The idea is, like the new Xbox 360 Slim, designed to keep pace with Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s soon to be released “Move” motion controller. Personally, I’d stick with the already-refined Wii as opposed to becoming an early adopter to yet another experimental pitch made by a lagging console gaming company. Virtual Boy anyone?
While certainly a step up from the past, many gamers were expecting more from Microsoft such as a entirely new system or something at least, well, new. Alas, we’ll have to wait until next year for that as Microsoft seems to be content with re-inventing the wheel as opposed to ground-breaking innovation.
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