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XBox 360 & Gaming consoles
Microsoft's Xbox 360 blows the doors off other consoles on the market. For sheer power alone it towers over the likes of Sony's Playstation 2 and Nintendo's Gamecube. If gaming were a religion, then the Xbox 360 would surely be its Messiah. But what makes the 360 better than anything else on the market? Let's take a look.
The CPU of the Xbox 360 consists of three separate core processors that clock in at 3.2 GHz each. The console has an ATI graphics processor that clocks in at 500MHz. This means that the 360 can use four times as many polygons as the original Xbox and more than four times the number of pixels per second. The raw graphical power has already been unleashed on games such as Condemned and NFL Madden 06 where the movie-type quality is to be commended. With 512 MB of RAM the Xbox 360 is eight times more powerful than the original Xbox.
All games on the console are optimised for a 16:9 widescreen viewing ratio whilst games are required to be authored for 720p and 1080i resolutions. The HD era is upon us and Xbox 360 is leading the way. The games look stunning on a High Definition TV but are still very impressive on normal screens.
The hard drive boasts 20GB of space. With plenty of videogame trailers and demos available for download at the Xbox Live Marketplace, the extra space comes in extremely handy. Couple this with streaming pictures, music and videos via any USB device or Window XP Media Center and you can see why the added space was made available.
The GPU uses 48 parallel shader pipelines that developers can optimise it in order to get the performance they want. The flexibility of the GPU enables developers to tell the Xbox 360 wether to use pixel or vertex shaders, thus maximising the performance.
The Xbox 360 has three USB ports where various accessories can be plugged in to interact with the console. Plug in your MP3 player, Sony PSP or iPod and download the latest tunes direct to the hard drive. Your own tunes can now be played at any time by accessing the Xbox 360 dashboard, even if you are in the middle of a game.
Wireless integration on the Xbox 360 is flawless. You can connect up to 4 wireless controllers and there is never a delay between pressing a button and what happens on screen. The wireless set up is optimised so that it does not interfere with any other wireless device in your home.
The U. K market is thriving with not enough consoles to meet demand. Most retailers and online stores could not fulfil the pre-orders for the Xbox 360 and it looks as though there will be some unhappy customers this Christmas. Figures have not yet been released on how many units have actually been sold in the U.K. According to UK Chart Date firm, Chart-Track, the Xbox 360 has broken Nintendo GameCube's record of the fastest selling home console but still lags behind Sony's PSP, which sold over 185,000 units in its first week. Across Europe there is doubts whether the Xbox 360 has beaten Nintendo's records. Approximately 300,000 units were shipped out across Europe on launch day, whereas Nintendo GameCube's launch saw around 100,000 more units shipped. However, there are still more Xbox 360s being delivered every single week with demand currently outweighing supply, so figures won't be entirely clear until after Christmas.
NPD Group has revealed that approximately 325,000 consoles have been sold in the U.S, which falls behind the 556,000 for the original Xbox on launch. Once again these figures may be due to the lack of supply and clearer information should be made available at a later date.
The Players –
Sony – Microsoft's main rivals will be launching the PlayStation 3(PS3) in the Spring and will be hoping to outsell the Xbox 360. The CPU will boast a 3.2 GHz processor, 256 MB RAM, a graphics engine from Nvidia and blue ray technology.
Nintendo – The Revolution will also compete with the 360 and PS3 with a graphics processor from ATI named ‘ Hollywood ', and an IBM ‘Broadway' processor. The Nintendo revolution is due out in and rumour has it that it may retail for as little as $99, although this is unconfirmed. The Revolution is currently planned for a late 2006 release date.