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Free Time: Xbox 360 Elite Upgrade Worth It RRS feed

  • Question

  • The battle in the marketplace between next-generation console manufacturers has gained steam exponentially in the recent months, and industry giant Microsoft shows no signs of slowing down.

    With several highly anticipated software titles due out for their popular next-generation Xbox 360 gaming console, Microsoft announced plans last month for a third hardware bundle, the Xbox 360 Elite, to hit store shelves April 29 and retail for $479.99.

    Whether you are a die-hard Xbox 360 fan, a graphics purist or a first-time console buyer, you are all probably wondering if this is the right bundle for you. The constant evolution of the gaming console means there never really is a good time to buy, but in this case, a few months' wait might do you a lot of good.

    Ultimately designed to target the first-time Xbox buyer, the Xbox 360 Elite features a 120GB hard drive, which is significantly larger than the Pro bundle's 20GB drive. In addition, while all bundles offer 1080p high-definition this is the first hardware bundle to offer a high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) port

     

    After an April 2006 partnership announcement between Microsoft and Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing (CSM), rumors swirled that the Xbox 360 Elite would debut with CSM's new 65nm processor.

    Currently the Xbox 360 employs a 90nm chipset. The new 65nm chip would not affect the processing speed of the hardware, but would allow for a more thermally stable and energy efficient console. However, due to apparent production delays, CSM's 65nm chipset will not be featured in the Xbox 360 Elite when it launches April 29.

    So the question still remains, is the Elite the right bundle for me, or should I wait?

    Wait. If the impulse to buy is too strong, just remember that, while not confirmed, odds are that Microsoft will have to add HDMI support to other bundles. While the Xbox 360 Elite does offer gamers a significantly larger hard drive, current 360 owners can still purchase the 120GB hard drive separately. The stand-alone hard drive kit, which includes a cable to transfer your current hard drive's data, also debuts April 29 and retails for $179.99.

    While video gamers looking for true superb high-definition graphics will undoubtedly stand up in favor of the Elite's HDMI interface, one should note that all Xbox 360 bundles will soon boast the same feature.

    IPTV Worth Tuning In To?

    If you live in an area where broadband Internet is gaining popularity, you have undoubtedly passed a billboard or two on your way to work touting the unbelievable savings you could be enjoying if you bundled your Internet, telephone and television services all through one provider. In the cable television industry, they call it the "Triple Play."

    With so many products hitting the market bearing the "TV" brand, sorting it all out can be a quite the challenge. Xbox 360's IPTV and Verizon's FiOS TV are only a few of the acronyms lining up to confuse you, and some, like Apple's AppleTV aren't even IPTV hardware.

    Most tech-savvy consumers are familiar with voice-over Internet-protocol (VoIP), thanks largely in part to tireless advertising campaigns by providers like Vonage and Verizon. However, despite the public's willingness to warm up to VoIP technology, it wasn't until recently that telecommunications companies and cable providers alike began to explore the limitless possibilities of Internet protocol television (IPTV).

    What Is It? Why Do I Want It?

    IPTV is simply a television signal delivered via your broadband Internet connection, and it commonly comes in two different varieties, free and subscription-based.

    Perhaps what is most exciting about IPTV technology is the ability to integrate other Internet-protocol services with the TV viewing experience. For example, your television could display caller ID, receive voice mail, or any other Internet-based content supplied by the service provider. In addition to traditional cable content, IPTV gives cable providers the ability to offer more video-on-demand content, as well as free networks viewers wouldn't normally have access to.

    IPTV also opens the door for true user interactivity. Imagine being able to look up a player's seasonal statistics or vote for your favorite contestant, all through your remote control.

    In addition to improved features and a wider selection of programming for consumers, IPTV also makes economical sense for telecommunications companies and local cable operators. The ability to consolidate all of their services into one wire and the elimination of high-maintenance coaxial infrastructures means faster service and lower bills for subscribers.

    How Do I Get It?

    As IPTV services generally use a great deal of bandwidth, if broadband service is not available in your area, you will probably have to wait a little longer. Both local cable operators and large telecommunications companies are putting a great deal of emphasis on cultivating new subscribers, so if you already have Internet and telephone through one service provider, check to see if they offer IPTV as well.

    Saturday, April 28, 2007 1:21 PM