Microsoft Unveils New Xbox 360 Model [Updated With Impressions]

[Update] After unveiling the new slimmer 360 at the close of their press briefing, Microsoft offered me a chance to check one out more closely. My immediate question was just how "whisper quiet" is this thing? The answer is, pretty damn quiet. Much of the noise from the old 360 actually came from the DVD drive spinning. I popped Alan Wake into the new machine and waited to hear what happened. Not much. The new optical drive makes very little noise beyond a few confident clicks as the tray locks into place and it goes about its business.

Likewise, the switch to a larger diameter, slower RPM fan eliminates almost all noise from that either. It also seems to have helped with circulation. Holding my hand above the vented top (with the console stood up) I could easily feel the air being drawn into the case. Internal updates also appear to help the new smaller 360 stay cool. The new model gets 45nm chips and the resulting reduction in power draw has let them drop the new power brick to 135 watts.

Other changes, including the new aesthetic, are refinements aimed at making the 360 more at home in the entertainment center. The glossy piano black finish looks like the bezel material on many modern HDTVs. The new touch sensitive buttons responded quickly and predictably to my finger. There are now plenty of connections on the back including three USB ports and an optical S/PDIF port. And lest it go overlooked, they've finally included built-in Wi-Fi with support for 802.11n. It's a nice enough refresh of the system that more than a few existing owners are going to be tempted to get a new machine. [/Update]

"Sleeker, smaller, whisper-quiet" are the words Microsoft executive Don Mattrick used to describe the compay's redesigned Xbox 360, which ships out to stores today.

Due to be available at retailers later this week, the new Xbox costs the same as the old Elite model but contains a 250GB hard drive and built-in WiFi-n, as had been leaked.

In related news, our very own Chris Faylor and Garnett Lee are among the jammiest dodgers in the world, as all present at the conference will receive one for free.

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