Xbox 360 Slim versus Xbox 360: What’s the Better Deal?
Two weeks ago, Microsoft surprised the video game community by announcing – and then releasing – the new Xbox 360 Slim model.
This slinked-down version of the company's popular gaming console features a smaller body and power brick, touch-sensitive buttons, a smaller hard drive and full connectivity to the forthcoming Kinect motion controller. [Read "The Xbox 360 Slim: For Better or Worse? "]
We’ve already provided our take on the system with a recent test drive, but many people are still asking if it’s a better deal than the current Xbox 360 model. So, we’ve decided to compare the two side-by-side, to let you know if you really need the Xbox 360 Slim, or if you should stay content with your older, bulkier model.
There’s no question the original Xbox 360 is huge. The unit itself is a large, rectangular piece of technology, with the option to either lay it on its side or sit it upright. It also comes with a huge, heavy “power brick” to power the unit, along with A/V cables (or, if you buy the right bundle, an HDMI cable) and a wireless controller.
The Xbox 360 Slim isn’t all that much smaller, but it's sleeker. It’s about three-quarters the size of the original system, with a much smaller power brick (about two-thirds its size) to boot. (It comes with aforementioned A/V cables and controller as well, but the HDMI cable is sold separately.) If your entertainment center is crowded or you’re not too crazy about large game systems, the Xbox 360 Slim is definitely worth your while.
The original Xbox 360 is rather easy to use. You can turn on the system by pressing a button, plug in memory cards and controllers through the accessible ports, and open and close the DVD tray by either pressing the button or activating it from your in-game menu. Some of the system bundles also include a hard drive, varying in size (from 120 GB to 250 GB) and it’s very easy to remove and snap back into place at the top of the system.
As for the Xbox 360 Slim, Microsoft went with a much more stylish design. The body is encased in shiny black plastic, giving the system a futuristic appearance. While very pleasing to the eye, the plastic makes the console susceptible to fingerprints, much like the original PlayStation 3.
On the plus side, the touch-sensitive buttons are cool, as you merely need to lay your finger on the power and DVD tray buttons to get things done, instead of having to press them. The hard drive on this model is trickier to access, since you have to remove a panel to access it. However, we don’t see the need for pulling it out anytime soon, since bigger hard drives aren’t available for the Xbox 360 Slim yet.
Accessibility and Performance
When it comes to system performance, there’s very little difference between the different models.
You can access the Xbox Live Marketplace very easily with either of them, and also download Xbox Live Arcade games or check out the latest movies and TV shows in the Zune Marketplace.
The only real change you’ll find with the Xbox 360 Slim is when the Kinect — a newly announced accessory for playing motion sensitive games on the console — arrives. If you’re using an original Xbox 360, you’ll need to plug the motion controller into its own power source. With the Slim, you simply need to attach it to the system and it’ll share its power supply.
One huge problem that Microsoft has experienced with Xbox 360 consoles over the years is overheating, which results in the “Red Ring of Death” that has plagued so many units. It announced a program over a year ago that allows users to get their systems repaired in a short amount of time, although it takes one to two weeks for it to process.
Recent models of the Xbox 360 console have been less likely to overheat, due to the addition of a new heat sink in the hardware. That said, the older consoles are still rather noisy.
By comparison, the Xbox 360 Slim runs much better. The system isn’t nearly as noisy as its older models, running on an advanced Valhalla chip set. But the system does get hot, and if you place your hand across the heat vent on the top of the console, you’ll certainly feel it.
The Xbox 360 Slim eliminates the “Red Ring of Death” problem, as it shuts down automatically when it senses it’s even close to overheating. While this does keep your system safe, it can be frustrating when you’re in the middle of a heated “Red Dead Redemption” session, only to drop out suddenly because of the safety standard.
Pricing and Bundles
Here’s where the Xbox 360 Slim comes at a disadvantage. The system package comes with the unit, necessary plug-ins and a wireless controller for $299 – and that’s all you get. There are no bundled games, just the unit itself. It would’ve been nice for Microsoft to throw in at least some kind of sampler, such as an Xbox Live Arcade package (as it’s done with the Arcade models) or even an older game like “Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts.”
On the other hand, the earlier Xbox 360 models come with great package deals, and Microsoft made them even better by slashing their prices $50 to clear the way for new inventory.
That means you can get an Xbox 360 Arcade bundle (sans hard drive) for $150, with “Viva Pinata” and “Banjo Kazooie” included.
The Xbox 360 Elite bundle is $250, with “Forza Motorsport 3” (the best racing game for the system to date) and “Halo 3: ODST” included, along with a 120 GB hard drive.
Finally, the Xbox 360 special bundles go for $349.99, including a 250 GB hard drive, a specially cased Xbox 360 system, and either “Final Fantasy XIII,” “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” or “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction.” It all depends which bundle you purchase.
If you already have an Xbox 360 and it works well enough for you, you don’t need to worry about upgrading to the Xbox 360 Slim just yet. However, when the Kinect arrives, don’t be surprised if Microsoft offers a cheaper bundle to entice you.
If you don’t have an Xbox 360 console, however, there are options to consider. The original Xbox 360 bundles are a steal right now, especially the “Forza” and “Halo 3” package for $249.99. Better still, since they’re still considered new systems, they’re backed by a full warranty, so you don’t have to worry about the “Red Ring of Death,” unless you’re not prepared to be without your Xbox 360 for a week’s time. If that’s the case, you might want to consider the Slim, as it’s less likely to overheat.
If you need a system with games and can’t afford to purchase anything new, go with the earlier bundles. However, if you don’t mind splurging a little and want to go top-of-the-line, the Xbox 360 Slim is the way to go.
- The Xbox 360 Slim: Better or Worse?
- Motion Gaming Review: Kinect vs. Nintendo Wii vs. PlayStation 3
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