Microsoft Xbox 360 Slim 250GB

Though the new Xbox 360 certainly addresses most of the concerns we've had with the versions before it, we don't think it warrants a purchase if you already own an Xbox 360 in working order with an HDMI-out port and a hard drive.


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Microsoft kick-started the "next-generation" of gaming on November 22, 2005, when the company released the Xbox 360, beating both Nintendo and Sony to market. Since then, the console has sold roughly 40 million units worldwide and has brought some innovative ideas to the gaming industry in the form of Xbox Live, the online marketplace, and gamer achievements.

The console is not without its shortcomings, though. Most notably, the infamous "red ring of death" controversy has plagued the system since its launch. The defect can be traced to the system's inability to properly dissipate heat, which in turn renders some of the vital innards unusable. Though Microsoft has remained quiet about an exact fail rate percentage, some analysts have that number as high as 40 percent, with recent reports hovering around a one in four odds of failing within the first two years of ownership. Other complaints vary from lack of built-in Wi-Fi to denying users the ability to replace the hard drive like the PlayStation 3 offers.

At E3 2010, Microsoft unveiled an Xbox 360 redesigned from the ground up. Officially referred to as the "S" console — or Slim, as we've come to call it — the latest iteration packs a 250GB hard drive, built-in Wi-Fi, and a new design that's about 17 percent smaller than the previous models.

The new Xbox 360 certainly addresses most of the concerns we've had with the versions before it, but we don't think it warrants a purchase if you already own an Xbox 360 in working order with an HDMI-out port and a hard drive.

In this review we'll look at what's new in the Xbox 360 Slim, so for those who are interested in a look at the complete Xbox 360 experience, we recommend reading our reviews of the consoles prior.

Xbox 360 250GB screenshot

The new Xbox 360 Slim is about 17 percent smaller than its predecessor.

Design

The new Xbox 360 ditches the matte-plastic encasing seen on the white and Elite versions and instead opts for the now-infamous fingerprint magnet glossy black finish that covers so many gadgets of today. The console measures in at 2.9 inches tall by 10.6 inches wide by 10.4 inches deep and weighs a bit over 6 pounds, making it noticeably smaller than its big brother.

There are far fewer buttons on the new Xbox 360; most notably absent are the disc tray and power buttons from the previous consoles. Instead, both are now touch-sensitive; a small notch above the disc tray opens it, and the unit can be turned on simply by touching the circular silver power area. Also, a tone is played from inside the console whenever either of the two touch areas is engaged.

The silver power circle also represents the number of controllers connected and will rotate depending on how the console is oriented (either horizontally or vertically). Past 360 owners will associate this area with the "red ring of death" error message, but Microsoft has removed red LEDs from the console, so now any malfunction will be represented with a series of green lights.

To the right of the power circle is a spring-loaded door hiding two USB ports. Next to it is the controller sync button, which also doubles as the system's infrared (IR) port. Though there seemed to be some discussion as to whether this made it difficult for commands to be given to the Xbox 360, our tests with a Harmony remote show no sign of such issues.

For those hoping to ditch the enormous "power brick" that tethered the console to a power source, you're half in luck. The proprietary connection is definitely smaller, but there is still a power box you must deal with. Though it's about half the size of the original, we're much more comfortable downgrading the "brick" to a "block."

One drawback of the newly designed console is incompatibility with older Xbox 360 faceplates. We can't say that this customizable feature was one of the console's strong points, but nevertheless, no faceplates will work with the new Xbox 360.

Features

As mentioned above, the Xbox 360 Slim aims to correct some of the annoyances and complaints current Xbox 360 owners have voiced. The new console comes packed with a 250GB hard drive, built-in Wi-Fi that supports up to 802.11n, five USB ports, and one additional slot devoted to Microsoft Kinect.

Xbox 360 250GB screenshot

The Xbox 360 Slim offers more USB ports, a dedicated optical digital audio port, and a dedicated Microsoft Kinect slot.

The rear of the new Xbox 360 also looks a bit different compared with the original. Now onboard is a devoted digital optical audio-out port that can be used in conjunction with an HDMI, component, or composite video connection.

The console hides its 250GB hard drive under a door flap at the base of system. It comes in a black plastic enclosure that allows it to slide snugly into a receiving slot. Unfortunately this means it cannot be replaced with a third-party drive, so those wishing to do so will be stuck having to buy Xbox 360-branded internal storage.

Xbox 360 250GB screenshot

A small removable flap hides the hard drive.

We also noted a Kensington lock slot just below the power port on the rear of the console. Though minor, it's certainly a welcome addition to anyone who wants a little extra security.

We weren't really expecting it, but this new Xbox 360 Slim does not have any sort of Blu-ray capabilities, just the standard DVD playback it has always had.

What's included

In the box you'll find the Xbox 360 console, a black wireless controller, a black wired headset, two AA batteries, a power supply and cord, and a composite AV cable. Unfortunately, Microsoft has eliminated component cables as a standard add-in, so you won't be able to have an HD connection out of the box. Instead, you'll need to use either a separate HDMI cable or older Xbox 360 component wire for HD gaming.

It seems that the included headset has the updated in-line mute and volume toggle design found in some Xbox 360 Messenger Kits. We also noticed some minor updates to the wireless controller. The silver guide button is now mirrored chrome, and the Xbox 360 logo is embossed on the controller next to the sync button. Unfortunately, the wonky D-pad remains unchanged, our only gripe we wish Microsoft would have addressed on the otherwise near-perfect controller.

Xbox 360 250GB screenshot

Included is a slightly modified wireless controller.

We should note that the included composite AV cable has a deliberate plastic protrusion that covers up the HDMI port when plugged in. Clearly Microsoft wants to prevent users from access to the port when using an AV slot connection.

Operation

One of the highlighted bullet points of the Xbox 360 unveiling at E3 2010 was "whisper-quiet" operation. Though "whisper" might be an exaggeration, the difference between the Xbox 360 Slim and older units is like night and day. When idle, the 360 is almost absolutely silent, and when running its disc drive, the console is barely noticeable with minimal volume. Obviously this is a huge improvement over older Xbox 360s and hopefully leads to fewer instances of system failures.

That said, we did notice the console heating up just after 10 minutes of game play. Thankfully, a perforated vent lays right above an exhaust fan, which appears attached to the system's GPU. We felt hot air coming from the vent and right side of the console when it was lying down horizontally.

Xbox 360 250GB screenshot

The perforated vent allows for more heat dissipation.

Other than the noticeably quieter operation, we didn't see any other changes in how the Xbox 360 behaves.

Should I buy one?

As we mentioned at the start of this review, we don't think this new Xbox 360 Slim warrants a purchase if you have a working Xbox 360 with an HDMI-out port and hard drive. Sure, the possibility of an overheating "red ring of death" is always possible, but current Xbox 360 owners should not voluntarily upgrade, especially if their console is still under the three-year warranty specifically covering the red-ring issue.

Also, there are few details to keep in mind that may deter some from needlessly upgrading. First, you'll need to conduct a one-time data transfer, which requires a US$15 cable. If only a small amount of data needs to be transferred, a USB stick might do the trick instead. Also, any downloadable content (DLC) that is stored on a pre-existing hard drive may require a license migration to a new console.

Of course we imagine retailers will offer enticing promotions on trade-ins of existing hardware for the new Slim console, so the choice to do so will ultimately be up to the individual. If you're desperate for Wi-Fi (and don't already have the USB adapter), are low on hard-drive space, or just want a quieter and more reliable Xbox 360 experience, the new Slim console from Microsoft is definitely the way to go.



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Marco posted a comment   

The Good:quiet, no red ring

The Bad:price, no backward compatibility, service, support

1st thing is first: You can play xbox original games on the slim. Look it up under youtube. All you gotta do is remove the HDD from your 360 and place it in the bay; it has the same connectors. I did it and I'm now happy playing my old games.

When I called their support, they told me it couldn't be done; I had to buy their new special shaped HDD. BS. Microsoft just wants to rip you off. It's your money and you can do anything you want with it; but I'm not giving them more of mine.

I also have a ps3 and I love it. It lets me watch netflix free. The slim... fat chance. I have to pay up for their live service, which I don't use-- more $ out. Can you say cachhhinnngg?!

More and more, I'm thinking the ps3 is the better console.

Pow man
8
Rating
 

Pow man posted a review   

The Good:EVERYTHING but some cons

The Bad:Backward hardware, large power box, HDD upgrade is hard or expensive

Goody good

Dominion FiVe Reach
9
Rating
 

Dominion FiVe Reach posted a review   

The Good:xbox live, good exclusives, looks awesome, has built in wifi, shiny black,quiet and cooler, 5 usb ports

The Bad:too much kinect games, xbox live is costly, really big power block, does not work with old hard drive

AWESOME BUT lacks of new exclusive this year although most 3rd party games work better =)...

NathanTri
8
Rating
 

NathanTri posted a review   

The Good:Built in wifi,Looks better,Xbox Live,large selection of games,quiet,touch controls,

The Bad:Only console with a disc tray,XL cost is getting higher,DVD is quiet old,transfer requires cable,BIG power box

Great console but still doesn't have blu-ray... DVD drives are getting old especially the disc tray other console have tray-less drive even the nintendo wii. Xbox live is improving rapidly but does it worth it? the cost of it it is also getting higher. Built in wifi is one of the best things in this new xbox ...five usb port is great too. Overall is a great console but would pay more for new features.

 

GEFORCE XTREME 2.0 posted a reply   

My wish list
-needs blu-ray
-smaller power box or no box at all
-cheaper xbox live subscription
-support external HDD attachment from old xbox
-Slot loading
-Needs no face plate
-memory card slot
-includes HDMI cable
I would pay more...

 

HenryC3 posted a reply   

No need to copy ps3.

HenryC3 Facebook
4
Rating
 

"Yes"

HenryC3 posted a review   

The Good:PlayStation Tree!!

The Bad:Xbox 360, xbox live that means not free.

Yea i hate microsoft techs and you know it!

AlexK12 Facebook
10
Rating
 

AlexK12 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Everything?

The Bad:Slot-loading would have been nice.

Almost everything improved. Best console you can buy.

Mike
9
Rating
 

Mike posted a review   

The Good:Touch controls, Quiet, Hard Drive

The Bad:Big Power Box

Why dont they change the big black standard control ? But i must say the console is very black, Shinny, Loveable :)

 

Nintendo Lord posted a comment   

Don't buy a XBOX 360 slim buy a wii..with real games ..full of innvation

 

GEFORCE XTREME 2.0 posted a reply   

nobody likes him.. i guest his only friend is a nintendo wii

 

Spartan Jack 17 posted a reply   
Australia

Has anyone noticed that he posts exactly the same thing on all posts?
"Don't buy a PlayStation Move buy a wii..with real games ..full of innovation"
"Don't buy a XBOX 360 Kinect buy a wii..with real games ..full of innovation
Stop posting ads Nintendo employee. Also you spelt innovation "innvation"

 

Turnunts posted a comment   

The Xbox 360 Slimline 250GB is the newest model of Microsoft's Xbox 360 line, replacing the Xbox 360 Elite.
The launch version of the Xbox 360 and other models have enjoyed outstanding international popularity, but have also been sometimes criticized for poor reliability and the omission of features a consumer would expect from a ~$400 gaming console.
The Slimline was recently released by Microsoft in an effort to address these issues, and as a recent purchaser of an Xbox 360 Slimline, I can confirm that these issues are worries of the past. Improved cooling under the bonnet greatly reduces the risk of overheating, so it's very unlikely you'll see the infamous Red Ring of Death.
In terms of usability, the Xbox 360 is bounds ahead of even the Elite. There's no whining noise, no loud humming, the unit is basically whisper quiet when the DVD-Drive is not in operation. While playing a particularly intensive game, the Slimline's fans will wind up, and the DVD-Drive will hum away during gameplay. Regardless, this is the quietest home console I've reviewed, and with the volume tuned to a normal level, these sounds pretty much disappear. The graphics and audio output remain at a consistently high level, with no graphical or audio glitches noticeable, even after many hours of play.
Accessory wise, the Slimline is the first model to have inbuilt Wi-Fi, which is fantastic; the Wi-Fi adapter alone costs *$149.95* to buy separately, direct from Microsoft, and allows you to connect to the Internet and Xbox Live without having to run a 20m cable from your Router to your Xbox.
The Slimline also includes an official Xbox 360 Headset, and Wireless Controller. The Headset plugs straight into your controller, and while not fancy by any means, works fine for voice communication on Xbox Live. The bundled controller comes with batteries, and is fully compatible with your old controller accessories (Charge & Play, etc.)
The Slimline comes with a standard RCA Cable, and a 250GB hard-drive. An HDMI cable would have been ideal, and HDTV owners should look to pick one up for about $50 for a 1m cable; the difference in video quality is world's apart. The 250GB included is fantastic; to put it into perspective, it's worth several hundred hours of DVD-quality video, and all the XBox Live Arcade games you could want.
For connectivity, the rear connectors include 3 USB ports, an Ethernet (Network) port, HDMI, and Digital Audio Out, which will let you connect your Xbox to your new TV/Speakers without any problem or compromise, as well as older equipment. There's 2 USB ports on the front panel for accessories and controllers; 5 USB ports total.
And for fun and style, the traditional buttons have been replaced with motion-sensitive contact buttons, and the case is shinier and slimmer.
If you're looking to buy your first Xbox 360, or even if you're looking to upgrade your aging Xbox, the Slimline has enough strengths to be the clear-cut winner. At this price point, and with motion sensing enabled gameplay around the corner with Microsoft's Kinect due in November, the XBox 360 Slimline is an excellent purchase for any gamer, casual or hardcore.


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User Reviews / Comments  Microsoft Xbox 360 Slim 250GB

  • Marco

    Marco

    "1st thing is first: You can play xbox original games on the slim. Look it up under youtube. All you gotta do is remove the HDD from your 360 and place it in the bay; it has the same connectors. I d..."

  • Pow man

    Pow man

    Rating8

    "Goody good"

  • Dominion FiVe Reach

    Dominion FiVe Reach

    Rating9

    "AWESOME BUT lacks of new exclusive this year although most 3rd party games work better =)..."

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