The Xbox 360 gaming console debuted in 2005 as a competitor for PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii, featuring state-of-the-art graphics and an impressive library of games available on discs and for download. Complete with capabilities for online gameplay, apps like Netflix and Hulu and a built-in DVD and CD player, this console is a full-service entertainment device that your whole family can enjoy. Understanding the options the consoles offer as well as the accessories and game available helps you choose a unit that best meets your needs.
Consoles When Microsoft first released the Xbox 360, it offered what collectors now call the Core Edition. This basic unit featured a plug-and-play interface with wired controllers that gave gamers access to popular titles and streaming services in high definition. Later editions provide even more options with better graphics, improved sound quality and backward compatibility so you can continue playing your favorite games from previous consoles.
Arcade Edition:This entry-level console is a smart option for families that want an easy-to-use media center and fans of arcade-style games like Pac-Man and Feeding Frenzy. It features ports for up to four wired or wireless controllers, optional video camera and an HDMI port. Although this version doesn't have a built-in hard drive, it has a 256MB memory unit and 512MB RAM memory designed for online play. An optional hard drive lets you play older Xbox games on the console, expanding the types of games available for the unit.
Elite Edition:The Xbox 360 Elite edition takes the console to the next level with improved 3D graphics, HDMI and USB ports and an Ethernet jack. Its 3.20 GHz processor and 512 MB RAM memory gives the unit plenty of power to play games on the online Xbox Live platform, while your choice of 120GB or 500GB hard drive saves game progress, preferences and apps. The Xbox 360 Elite has processing power and a game library comparable to the PS3, but its Kinect motion control option is easier to use than PlayStation's Move.
Slim Edition: With a sleeker, space-saving design and touch-sensitive buttons, the Slim Edition is an attractive, functional machine without the bulk and weight of other editions. It features Wi-Fi connections, Ethernet and USB ports and an advanced cooling system that prevents internal heat buildup that damages the motherboard. The Slim Edition easily blends with your other entertainment devices and lets you play your favorite games for longer periods of time.
Accessories Although you need a console to play video games, accessories add to the experience. You can purchase these individually or look for bundles that include specific game titles and the accessories you need to play them, such as a wireless wheel for car-racing games.
Kinect is a motion sensor bar that looks like a webcam and attaches to the console. Unlike Wii's motion-sensor controller that you hold in your hand, Kinect detects your body's movement from wherever you set it up and gives you the ability to play games completely hands-free. Popular Kinect games include the Angry Birds Trilogy, Dance Evolution, FIFA Soccer, Forza Motorsport and Toy Story Mania.
With a charging stand for wireless controllers, you don't have to interrupt gameplay to recharge the controllers. The charging station also frees up the console's USB ports so you can use them for other peripherals.
Hard drives provide additional storage space for games and apps. These external devices are especially useful for consoles that have limited storage space. They also make it possible to play older versions of games.
If you're unsure which accessories to pick up now, an Expansion Kit Bundle gives you basics to improve your gaming experience. These kits include extras like a noise-canceling headset, an HDMI cable for high-definition graphics, an Ethernet cable to connect to your Internet router, a charging dock and rechargeable batteries. Simply plug everything in and get ready to play.
Headsets let you interact with others during online game play. With this accessory, you can chat with other gamers while you're waiting in game lobbies or share strategies for winning a competition in the middle of a mission.
Top Games For many gamers, the selection of game titles is one of the most important considerations when choosing a console. Xbox 360 offers an impressive library of proprietary and third-party games from every genre, so there's something to please every interest. When you purchase a bundle that comes with select titles, you can still pick up some of the most popular games for the unit, including: