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Microsoft Xbox 360

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But it's the actual wire-free aspect of the controller that I have fallen in love with. Because the 360 was designed to use wireless controllers from the outset, you don't have any messy dongles hanging out of controller ports -everything just works. The upshot is that I have the 360 sitting in my AV rack next to the TV, while I sit on my sofa with the controller - with my old Xbox it had to sit on the coffee table with the AV cable running to the TV, the power cable running to the plug socket, the network cable running to the wireless bridge and the controller cable running to me. The 360 makes for a much tidier environment, which definitely makes my wife happier! You can even power the 360 on with the wireless controller, so the only time you have to go near the console is when you're changing games. Also, considering that the 360 seems to be just as loud in operation as the old Xbox, having it further away from you when you play can only be a good thing.

Microsoft Xbox 360

Once you fire up the 360 you're presented with the Dashboard. I've got to say that this feels more like a proper operating system than any other console environment I've ever seen. The Dashboard is split into sections: Xbox Live, Games, Media and System. Each section is represented as a vertical 'blade' that you can select by moving the D-pad left and right. Obviously Xbox Live is important to Microsoft and the integration with the 360 is absolutely seamless.

Within minutes I had transferred my Xbox Live account to the 360. Now, the 360 comes with an Xbox Live Silver subscription, but you can't actually play games online with this, you need a Gold subscription to do that. However, if you already have a Live account on your old Xbox, as soon as you transfer it to an 360 it becomes a Gold account.

With the 360, Xbox Live really does open a whole grotto of goodies. You can download all kinds of content including game demos, so you can get an idea of what a title is like before buying - just like with a PC. However, you're going to need a fast Internet connection - I downloaded the demo of Need for Speed: Most Wanted (which is amazing by the way) and the download was almost 1GB.

You can also purchase games online - not proper A-List titles, but games specifically crafted for download. Once such game is Geometry Wars and I've got to say that it's one of the most addictive games I've played in years. If you're into 'old school' shooters, you need to download this game - go for the demo and if you like it buy the full version (the demo only gives you four minutes of play). If there's one problem with the purchasing aspect of Xbox Live, it's that there's no easy way of working out what the 'credits' equate to in your local currency - although I'm sure that some bright spark will create a currency converter soon enough.

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