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.