The shroud of secrecy surrounding Microsoft's upcoming Xbox 360 video game console came tumbling down over the weekend, when camera phone shots of the device made their way around the Internet. The source of the photos was an exclusive Xbox 360 Revealed event that Microsoft hosted in Los Angeles, where the company taped a promotional piece for the device. Attendees with camera-enabled cell phones were able to surreptitiously take pictures of the console and some of its add-on hardware.
Here's what we've learned from these pictures. First, the earlier prototype images of the Xbox 360 were correct: The Xbox 360 will use a largely white design that seems to be ripped off from the design of Apple's successful iPod. This news proves two things: Microsoft believes that white is the new black (so to speak), and the company still has no idea how to be cool but must instead ape other companies' successful designs. The situation reminds me of the faux wood on early video game systems such as the Atari VCS (2600) and Mattel Intellivision. The systems were designed to integrate with the faux wood on TV sets of the late 1970s and that horrible paneling that adorned so many walls of the era.
Like some tower PC designs, the Xbox 360 can be positioned horizontally or vertically for easy integration into various spaces. Microsoft will also supply clip-on power button skins that change the look of the front of the console. The unit is gently curved, which creates a slimming look that stands in sharp contrast to the fat, bulbous, current-generation Xbox. It features two memory unit slots, a CD-ROM/DVD-type drive, and other expansion ports, which are still unidentified. An optional hard disk clips onto the console's side (or top, depending on how the consol is oriented). The disk is encased in plastic that matches the console and appears to be nicely integrated into the system, although how much the disk will add to the unit's noise level is unclear.
The Xbox 360 uses wireless hand controllers that include the usual bevy of buttons and sticks and a roller ball from which the unit gets its name. (Get it? 360 degrees of motion.) Microsoft also showed off an Xbox Live wireless headset and a wired video camera.
If you're still waiting for more information about the Xbox 360, this month should be interesting. Microsoft will unveil the device on MTV specials starting May 12. The company will reveal even more details at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) trade show in Los Angeles beginning May 16.