OK, so this is a lot of information to process, and certainly I'll have additional Xbox 360 game and accessory reviews and other Xbox 360 content available in the days ahead. But the bottom line is refreshingly simple. With Xbox 360, Microsoft has completely redefined the state of the art in digital entertainment. Xbox 360 isn't just about games, though it plays the most beautiful looking games on the market, games that finally rival or even best what's available on the PC.
No, Xbox 360 marks the beginning of true digital convergence, and the mainstream acceptance of video gaming as a tier one entertainment experience that's the equal of TV and movies. With its pervasive support of PC- and device-based digital music, photos, videos, and television shows, and of CD audio and movie DVDs, Xbox 360 is the first viable digital hub device after years of false starts. On top of this, Xbox 360 provides the best video game experience on the planet with a seamless and elegant combination of beautiful hardware and software that many assumed only Apple Computer could have achieved. That this system came from Microsoft is somewhat astonishing. That it so thoroughly dominates the competition and has arrived at a much earlier date than weaker entries from Sony and Nintendo is nothing short of earth shattering.
Xbox 360 is fantastically implemented, though I have two quibbles. First, the expensive product bundles and relative lack of available systems at launch is deplorable. Second, the fact that there is no true Halo-type must-have game title at launch is problematic. Call of Duty 2 and Quake 4 are fantastic games, but they're not Xbox 360-specific. Finally, the promised backwards compatibility story was ultimately almost as dodgy as that offered by the competition. But it doesn't matter. The Xbox 360 is the most drool-worthy, sublimely exciting product that Microsoft has ever created and the most desirable consumer electronics product to be released by any company this year. Step aside, Sony. Your day in the sun is over.
The big question, of course, is do you need Xbox 360? For hard core gamers, that question is purely rhetorical. Of course you need it. For the general public, however, the question is valid. I feel that Xbox 360 will be a breakthrough digital device, and one that many individuals and families will eventually want. However, given the current situation, it makes sense to wait until 2006 before thinking about bringing an Xbox 360 into your home. That said, you're going to want one too. The question, really, is just one of timing.