My sons had already logged about 5 or 6 hours of gameplay on the new xbox 360 by the time I got home last night. The xbox 360 is clearly better than the original xbox platform. Visuals are similar to a high-end PC gaming platform. Good but not as great as I expected. Perhaps the software guys need a little more time to take full advantage of the xbox 360.
It is an interesting device. First and foremost the xbox 360 is a gaming platform. I’m not sure how successful it will be as a multimedia platform. You can equip the xbox 360 with hi-def interconnects, surround sound digital audio, although no DTS, and a set of other peripherals like remote controls and webcams. You can connect a portable music device, you can playback DVDs and CDs and you can view digital photos. How many people with higher end home theatre environments are willing to do battle with their kids for access to the hi-def screen?
We aren’t. The xbox 360 is plugged into a second TV set with a two-channel audio interconnect.
I don’t see the xbox 360 becoming the centrepiece of my home theatre.
Some interesting background on the manufacturing of the xbox 360.
The Xbox operation is centered at two factory sites in southern China, each run by separate contract manufacturers — Flextronics Corp. and Wistron Corp. — as a hedge in case one stumbles. Also near these sites are makers of many of the parts, from cooling fans to capacitors, and the 30 or so pieces of plastic that form the box. Using local suppliers means a lower risk that parts will arrive late. Local parts also eliminate the need to navigate Chinese import rules.
Microsoft and IBM started production of the processor — the heart of the Xbox 360 — in early July, gradually increasing production over the summer. Those chips now join a parade of other parts flowing to the Chinese factories: hard drives from Japan and Korea; graphics chips that were designed by Ontario, Canada’s ATI Technologies Inc. and come from Taiwan; and buttons for the machine’s controller from Lacrosse, Wis.
In all, 250 suppliers make parts for the machine. Some 25,000 workers world-wide have roles in making either the parts or the Xbox 360 itself, Mr. Holmdahl says. The two Chinese factories started rolling out finished Xbox 360s in August and now push out tens of thousands of units a day.
After each Xbox 360 rolls off the line, it undergoes two hours or so of automated testing and five minutes of manual testing before being packed into a plane or a 40-foot-long ship’s container. Back at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash., Mr. Holmdahl keeps a database chronicling the genealogy of every Xbox 360, including where it was made and shipped and exactly which parts are in it, so that any problems can be traced quickly.
The finished machines move through Hong Kong, then by boat to Chiba, Japan; Rotterdam, the Netherlands; or Long Beach, Calif. Some units reach the U.S. by air freight, landing in either Chicago or Toledo, Ohio. All U.S.-bound Xbox 360s eventually pass through a central distribution center in Memphis, Tenn., where they are packed onto trucks and trains bound for stores run by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Best Buy Co., among others.