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Xbox 360 Elite Worth its High Cost

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I may be late to the party, but I am now the proud owner of a Xbox 360 Elite. Being able to use HDMI is nice, but is far from the reason I made the jump to the (other) black box from Microsoft.

My Xbox 360 refurb wasn't so great. It had a tendency to not want to sign in to my profile – or sign into Xbox Live after it signed into my profile. There was also this glitch of no video signal (and no warning lights) when I powered the unit on. I have no qualms about getting rid of it for the Elite.

The now small 20 GB hard drive of the Premium was the deciding factor, that and the incredibly high price of the 120 GB hard drive ($180). I sold my Premium for $250 cash, and bought the Elite. Seeing as the hard drive alone costs $180, I essentially paid $20 for a brand new system, with the larger capacity hard drive, of course.

I no longer have to worry about file space when downloading demos, trailers, and Xbox Live Arcade titles. It is such a relief. I can have my full games and keep my demos too.

The system comes with HDMI on board (and even has an HDMI cable in the box *cough* PS3 *cough*) as well as a pass-through to allow for Optical Audio as an alternative. This is something I have tried on the PS3. While you can have HDMI and Optical audio plugged in at the same time, the PS3 will only output audio to one or the other at a time.

The Xbox 360 has, since Day 1, been able to pump audio out through two sources. This is a feature I would like to see come to the PS3 some day soon.

Inside the box is also the Component/Composite AV cable that came with the original Xbox 360. It is really nice to see that Microsoft is not shortchanging you on connectivity options.

Special thanks to my friend Cory, as I did not need to send in a blood sample to get a hard drive transfer cable – you are required to fill out a form with both your original and new 360 serial numbers, then wait for them to send it to you, of course. For the price, why not include the transfer cable? If someone is going to purchase the Elite or the 120 GB drive, they will likely need the transfer cable.

Transferring the data was a pretty painless process, taking about an hour. I was displeased when at the end I was informed that some files would not transfer (and was not told what those files were). So far, I have not seen anything missing. My Gamertag data is intact, all other items can always be downloaded again.

The immediate benefit, besides the superficial good looks, is the speed of the Dashboard. I have never seen the Dashboard move this fast. I own over 50 Xbox Live Arcade games, and that list has never loaded that fast.

I have also never been signed into Xbox Live so fast before. This system is speedy. And quiet. No more blast furnaces in my living room. Yet another plus.

There is one drawback, and it's a doozy. If I am not connected to the Internet, all the Xbox Live Arcade games not purchased on this console revert to Trial form. I understand the need for DRM, but this is not the answer, and I am not at all happy about it.

When the Elite was launched, I thought the price was high. But at that time I did not need a bigger hard drive, so I never factored in the (also high) cost of purchasing the drive separately. Oh, how lack of resources changes everything.

Now, if Microsoft would just lower the cost of their hard drives, I would not have to justify the cost of a new 360 on larger storage capacity.

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About Ken Edwards

  • Anaesthetix

    That’s a great piece Ken. Sensible opinions and a healthy dollop of common sense.

  • Dynamo of Eternia

    Why do the games revert to trial form when you are not online? Is there any way to correct that?

  • Qwerty

    “and even has an HDMI cable in the box *cough* PS3 *cough*)”

    Wow! How about built in WiFi, a hi def drive and reliability? Does it come with those as well?

    Its funny how Microsoft make a big deal about giving people a choice with their consoles but Sony get attacked for doing do in a more sensible way. If a customer chooses to use HDMI on the PS3 they can just buy a cable and use it. Any non Elite 360 owner who decides they now want HDMI has to buy a completely new console. I like they way they also gave customers the choice to buy a console without a hard drive without bothering to tell them that they will need one if they want to play future games. Nice.

  • QwertyFanBoy

    Sounds like someone is sad they purchased an overpriced system with very few good games. Hey, did you hear that Alone in the Dark 5 is delayed… well for the PS3 anyway.

  • D.Vader

    You are still missing an HD Drive and WiFi. All you got was HDMI (1.2 at that).

    Waste of cash next to PS3.

  • GameFan

    “Waste of cash next to PS3″

    That is the funniest crap I have ever heard! The PS3 IS a waste of cash. All the BS3 can do is play Blu-Ray movies. Quite an expensive HD player, since there are no games worth having on the system. And it is “supposed” to be a games console, right?? Where are the games?? Bunch of retarded Sony fanboys.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com/ Ken Edwards

    Yes, it would be nice to have built in Wi-Fi. It would also be nice if Microsoft didn’t sell their 360 Wi-Fi adapter for $100, but they love selling the components at a high price, that much is clear.

    The Premiums are now shipping with HDMI, at first it was only the Elite. I am not going to argue about build quality, the 360 has major design flaws. I even got the RRoD, it sucks.

    The PS3 is a solid piece of hardware, I just want more games for it. Warhawk is a step in the right direction.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com/ Ken Edwards

    Dynamo – the digital rights management for the XBLA games is tied to your Gamertag AND your console hardware. Now that I have different console hardware, the games revert to Trial form unless I am online, where it undoubtably checks a server for authentication.

    I do not like this at all, and will protest it until my final days. What happens in 10 yrs. when the server is no longer online, or I am on my 7th Xbox and 5th hard drive?

    Or, more realistically, what about when I take my 360 home to show my brother all the cool games on the Xbox Live Arcade, but can’t because all the games *I paid money for* are now all trial.

    Not that thats ever happen to me. No. Never.

  • gameaddict

    “That is the funniest crap I have ever heard! The PS3 IS a waste of cash. All the BS3 can do is play Blu-Ray movies. Quite an expensive HD player, since there are no games worth having on the system. And it is “supposed” to be a games console, right?? Where are the games?? Bunch of retarded Sony fanboys.”

    Good job Gamefan, you just proved how much MS has brainwashed gamers. Xbox 360 is probably better than the PS3 right now simply because the PS3 just came out. In the end however, PS3 is still a better deal than the Xbox 360 (“cough too many problems on Xbox cough”) Hope your Xbox 360 doesn’t break down MS sheep

  • GameFan

    “Good job Gamefan, you just proved how much MS has brainwashed gamers. Xbox 360 is probably better than the PS3 right now simply because the PS3 just came out. In the end however, PS3 is still a better deal than the Xbox 360 (“cough too many problems on Xbox cough”) Hope your Xbox 360 doesn’t break down MS sheep”

    Wow, that is just like some idiot Sony Fanboy. If you are any kind of GAMER, you have a 360 right now or are planning on getting one soon. RIGHT NOW the games are on the 360, and they are abundant. When and if the PS3 ever gets something that I have to have, then I will buy a PS3. I imagine by that time that the price will be down somewhat as well. Dont be such an idiot about your precious playstation. The games are on the 360, get over it.

    And since you brought up the reliability issue, please tell me what other electronic appliance in your house has such a good warrenty? A 3 yr warrenty at that? Please tell me which appliance that is in your home. Oh, and it doesnt cost a penny if it does break down, MS will send you a box via UPS to ship the broken unit to them for repair. They ship it back when fixed. And a whole slew of great games?? Give me that one please…

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    “PS3 just came out”

    ?? It’s just a few weeks away from being a year old. That’s not new.

  • Art

    “While you can have HDMI and Optical audio plugged in at the same time, the PS3 will only output audio to one or the other at a time.”

    Thats because pse comes to people ready for regular tv. And since HDMI is Audio and video why would you need to put out Optical. And by the way you can do it through ps3 you just got to select source output. Video HDMI Audio Optical. Yes it really is that easy.

  • Art

    “And since you brought up the reliability issue, please tell me what other electronic appliance in your house has such a good warrenty? A 3 yr warrenty at that?”

    Just to let you in on a little secret, one of my customers does marketing for Microsoft, and the reason they extended, it wasnt always 3 years, extended their warranty is because they were jeapoadized between two things, a major lawsuit costing them way more then fixing the machine for just RRD and possibly a total system recall which if that happened no games would be sold. Call Microsoft and tell them your machine gets so hot it burnt the carpet and they will tell you for 180 bucks they will fix it. Thats not a warranty thats coveing their asses cause they almost lost everything.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Ken Edwards

    Yes, as I said in my article, you CAN do video HDMI and audio Optical, but you cannot do video HDMI and audio HDMI and Optical. More specifically, I said “one or the other,” meaning one audio source, or the other. It will not output to both at once.

    Why would I want to do both? I have an Optical headset, yet I would like audio coming out of the speakers too. This is not too much to ask, and seeing as they made it available on the 360, the designers thought it would be a good idea somewhere in the development process.

  • Victor

    I bought my xbox360 just because I wanted to play Halo 1 & 2 on it, and to a lesser extent (because I have not seen it yet) one day to play Halo 3 in full HD. Think about it, factory confortable wireless controllers, cool headset, also you can tell the game runs smother.
    I have had so much fun playing cooperative-legendary with my friends, that I feel like I owed something to the halo universe. Think about it, Halo 1 looked amaising, sounded amaising, story was engaging and AI was second to none, and on top of all of that you had a game where all the buttons did something important, a level of control that once you became at least advanced enought to beat it in heroic, you and your friends had to play it every week or two all over again. In my case it became a great social dimention, adding beers or whatever other head spinners we could find. We just had to visit that world every once in a while.
    I will never forget the feeling of jumping back shooting forward and thowing a perfect granade to a even farther enemy, I have played and bought many other games, GOW being one in my drawer for example, but it feels like something is missing, the funny thing is that I did not feel at all alone on Novermber 9th 2004 midnight when I met with about 100 people on BaySide Miami to pick up Halo 2, it was awsome.
    Take my word for it, grab your friends, sell your PS3 and jump on this game.

  • http://www.ugvx.com skidz

    Then why does my Elite take 30 secs or more to boot up…for the 360 dashboard to come up after the power lights I have to sit and wait at least 30 secs or more for the dashboard to load, and MS say the Elite is doing safety checks 1st!!! yeh yeh…..

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com/ Ken Edwards

    You may wish to do this:

    Go to the system blade and then select memory.

    Press Y on the HD symbol and then press X,X,Left Bumper, Right Bumper, X,X. Once you do this a message will appear saying: Do you want to perform maintenance on your Xbox 360 storage devices?

    Performing this function will also clear any software updates.

    I also take no responsibility if you brick your 360.

    My Elite (or my Premium) did not take 30 seconds to boot to the Dash.

  • http://www.mario-kart-wii.com Mark

    I am getting an Elite today… I can’t wait. Thanks for the review..

  • Dynamo of Eternia

    “Dynamo – the digital rights management for the XBLA games is tied to your Gamertag AND your console hardware. Now that I have different console hardware, the games revert to Trial form unless I am online, where it undoubtably checks a server for authentication.

    I do not like this at all, and will protest it until my final days. What happens in 10 yrs. when the server is no longer online, or I am on my 7th Xbox and 5th hard drive?”

    Okay, a few questions/clarifications/and comments regarding this…

    I have the regular Premiunit. I’ve had mine since December 2005 and (knock on wood) I haven’t had the failure problem with mine that has plagued so many other units (I guess my intercooler is doing it’s job).

    I actually just downloaded some Live arcade games for the first time about a week ago. I don’t unfortunately have high speed internet at my place. I was actually at my mom’s house visiting for a BBQ on Labor Day weekend, and she just got high speed, so I took my 360 there to get some live arcade games. Now, I do intend to get high speed in the near future, however, I really don’t plan on being online unless I have reason to be (meaning, if what I am doing can be achieved by playing offline, than I will be playing offline).

    From what I understand based on the info from the Xbox website, the lisence is tied to the hardware itself, meaning the console, rather than the HD. Meaning that if I decide to buy the 120 GB HD and transfer my data, it should still work offline since I will be using the same Xbox unit. Is my understanding of this accurate?

    If so, then this is the route I will go. While it would be nice to have an HDMI connection, and while I do think the black system looks cooler, I only have a 720P TV anyway, and the picture I get through the Component cables looks nice enough. But I know that once I start downloading things in full force, I will need the extra HD space. So, I want to make sure my understanding of how this works is accurate.

    Also, is there anyway to get the lisence associated with a new machine? I mean, what are they doing for all of those people who’s systems have failed and have received replacement units? Are they just screwed and forced to go online to use their live arcade games? Do you have to purchase more points to redownload them to associate this with new hardware? And if so, if you are legimiately transfering it (whether because you are upgrading to the new machine or because you are receiving a replacement for a defective system), shouldn’t Microsoft be obligated to give you the points or some method by which to associate the lisence (which you already paid for) with your current hardware? There really should be some way around this. There’s no reason why they can’t come up with one.

    Microsoft really needs to get their act together. All of these failing systems and a really strict download method is not a good combination.

    From what I’ve heard, PS3 does have more reliable hardware (and I’ve heard this from some people who are usually pretty critical of Sony’s products), but content wise there’s nothing making me want to get the system right now.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Ken Edwards

    Yea, the PS3 hardware has been solid.

    I just called Xbox tech. support to find out some info. The first lady I talked to was clueless, and sent me on to an Xbox Live tech support guy.

    This is what I found out, some of which is disturbing. If you get a referb from Microsoft, you can redownload the game to your referb, and they will license the new console serial number.

    So yes, it is the console and NOT the hard drive that matters.

    So I asked what happens if I get an Elite, will I be able to do the same thing? No, if I get an Elite, from what I was just told on the phone, they will NOT license your Elite’s serial number for your XBLM downloads.

    I really don’t like that answer, so I am going to follow up with my Microsoft reps.

  • Dynamo of Eternia

    I’d be interesting in hearing about your findings, whatever they end up being. Please post them here if you get anywhere on this issue.

    I can understand them not wanting to make it possible to just copy these games onto any system, because then one person would download the game and copy it for all of their friends.

    However, when you get a new system (esspecially when you are upgrading to the elite, thus putting more money back into their hardware) they should make it possible to transfer the lisence. Even if it means they have to remove the lisence from the old unit, fine. But give people an option. There should be some process by which this can occur.

    What about people who’s systems have failed, and rather than ship their system off and put up with Microsoft’s B.S., they sucked it up and bought a new unit? I guess they are screwed in that regard.

    They really need more of a solid system for managing these downloaded games. I really wish they would just go back to releasing classic games on compilation discs. You got more games per dollars spent, and it will work in any unit of that system line.

  • Carlo

    Well I just want to tell all the MS fans that or you are just blind or you are just dumb, because I changed 3 360’s in less than 8 monhts, yes all of them were not reliable at all, so many issues, heatin up, nosie, scratchin disk and slow as hell. THen yesterday I got my ELITE yes it was under insurance and i just paid the difference, well surprise this crap didnt even turn on, the power supply was broken someho or the system, then the piece of $#@#!@ worket until like an hour later.
    I placed in my hi def 60″ 1080 p Plasma Phillips TV, with the really HI def cables and this crap doesnt have the graphics they feel so proud of!

    BS!!! BIG TIME!!! MS is crappy, so crappy hardward, while ps2 i think is the best, therefore i am going to the store now and changed for a ps3 anyway i just like to play sports, winning ELEVEN pro evolution, and the best part PS3 you can play eurpeans and Japanese games, YES THEY ARE not codified, as the crappy 360, so there are plenty of games!!

    Costumer service the worst for ms, i couldnt access my gamertag and they couldnt even help me after even telling them when was the last time i took a $#it!! come one, dont wate your money on it.

  • Reason

    Who cares what system you have or favor? If I like the Xbox more than the ps3, I’ll buy an xbox. They are both great systems and any owner of any system should just be happy with what they got. If you’re not happy, buy another system. Don’t complain on the comments page of a website. Don’t complain about how another system is so much more incapable of playing games just because it doesn’t have built in wifi or an HDMI slot. It’s pointless, childish, and just plain anoying.