Microsoft Xbox 360 4GB Console

Smaller dimensions and a new look. Is it worth replacing your existing console in favour of this newer Xbox 360 console?

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Microsoft Xbox 360 4GB Console The new Xbox 360 console features touch-sensitive buttons
By  Jason Saundalkar Published  February 9, 2011

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Key Specs

Audio output: Stereo, Dolby Digital,
Connection: WiFi
Media: DVD, CD, HD DVD
Online service: Xbox Live
Price: $245

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Despite the red ring of death (RROD) problems, the Xbox 360 has been a tremendous success for Microsoft. The company has sold 44.6 million consoles as of September 30th 2010 and, like Sony, Microsoft recently unveiled a new look for the same console. Two different base SKUs have been released by Microsoft to date; the Xbox 360 4GB Console and the Xbox 360 250GB Console. Of the two models the former is less expensive and acts as a replacement for the Xbox 360 Arcade.

The 4GB Console features a matte black finish that is identical to what was offered by the now discontinued Xbox 360 Elite. In terms of size this console is shorter in height (when stood vertical) and slightly slimmer than its predecessors. Beyond its dimensions and finish, the newer consoles offer five standard USB2.0 ports, one custom USB connector for the Kinect sensor, a built 802.11b/g/n WiFi adapter and a TOSLINK S/PDIF audio output port.

The new Xbox 360 consoles also forgoes physical buttons in favour of touch sensitive controls. So, like Sony's PlayStation 3, powering the console and ejecting/loading discs is simply a matter of swiping your finger over them. These are nice touches but we found that when the console is standing vertically, it's all too easy to mistakenly eject the tray given the position of the button.

Another change, though it is one that isn't part of the console itself, is that the power brick has also shrunk in size. This has been a long time coming as the older power brick was quite monstrous.

One major annoyance with the older consoles was that the cooling system became very loud when playing games. With the new console Microsoft has employed redesigned internals and, thankfully, although the console still gets quite warm to the touch, the cooling system could never be heard. Unfortunately, while Microsoft has fixed this one flaw, the new Xbox 360's optical drive is still quite noisy. Also, given that the new Xbox 360 console still runs quite warm to the touch we're still concerned about reliability.
In terms of onboard storage our base Xbox 360 4GB Console features flash memory but should you need more, the console can be fitted with a 250GB hard drive. While this is a useful feature we were annoyed to find that the hard drives found on the old Xbox 360 consoles are incompatible with the new consoles. This, of course, means you'll have to buy a new hard drive even if you already have the older hard drive.

More annoying still is the fact that Microsoft sells a handy adapter that you could use to transfer data from the older hard drive to the new Xbox as an optional extra. Given that Microsoft is essentially forcing everyone to change over to this new form of internal storage, we expected the adapter to be part of the package.

For: Slimmer dimensions, touch-sensitive buttons, built-in WiFi, onboard optical connector.
Against: Incompatible with older hard drives, optical drive is still too noisy.
Verdict: The new console adds useful standard features but since it is still noisy and can't use older Xbox 360 hard drives, we can't categorically say that it's worth buying if you already have an older 360. If you're looking for your first Xbox 360 console don't be swayed by the lower price of the older SKUs however.

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