Getting in close
Let's get right in with the details. The console itself is surprisingly heavy - its svelte looks betray some 1700 components inside, and that's without the PSU being included. We suspect that a great deal of the weight is taken up by the heatsinks required to keep the GPU and CPU under control, although we haven't yet had a chance to open up our box to find out.
If you opt for the Premium bundle, you'll get the hard disk - and you'll want it too, as you'll see when we discuss Xbox Live in just a minute. As it is, the hard drive does a number of things: you can rip CDs to it, and it is an essential component if you want to play Xbox 1 games. Since you also have to have somewhere to store your save games and your preferences, you'll need either a memory card or a hard drive. The hard drive is 20GB, and is simply a laptop SATA drive.
The connector, however, is far more robust - the press of a button with pop the drive off the side and enable you to take it with you wherever you want to go. It's designed to make sure you can repeatedly remove the drive without any wear on the connector (above right), which bodes well for the lifespan of the console.
The back of the box is fairly sparse, but has a large grill for ventilation, as well as a PC-esque USB and network port combo.
The powerpack uses a proprietary plug to go into the back of the console. The plug is huge, and the cable even more so - it's large diameter and chunky construction makes it rather inflexible. The powerpack itself is just as massive as you may have been lead to expect. With that said, it's not a huge amount bigger than the powerpack for my LCD TV, or than the one for the latest Shuttle machines
. We didn't experience any stability problems or overheating problems with our machine.
The grilles hide two 80mm fans, and each is shrouded to go to either the GPU or CPU. The console is very quiet when you're just in the Guide or playing music, but start up a game and the fans get rather loud. Possibly louder than the original Xbox. It's off-putting, but forgivable - they don't ramp up in movies, we found, which was the heinous crime of the previous Xbox. You can see the ports on the right: a USB port (for the wireless adaptor, or whatever else you fancy) and the ethernet network port.
The connection ports are USB 2.0. Microsoft designed the console so that you would be able to hook almost any device up to it with no issues, and we found that to be the case, happily.
Here, our trusted iPod nano connected (and charged) over the USB on the front of the machine. You can go straight into the 'Media' section of the Guide, pick the iPod name from the list presented and then access all the music on the device, including album art and track tags if you have them. The whole experience is totally seamless.
One thing we didn't like too much was that the USB ports on the front seem a bit 'ghetto'. They are set into the main metal chassis, and there's manufacturing label right next to them. It's sort of like pushing the flap open, and suddenly being right inside the machine, rather than any nice surround or set-off to the ports. A bit disappointing, but presumably a by-product of having a removeable front bezel.