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Microsoft Xbox 360

It's here. It's impressive

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Another great feature is that you can edit your profile so that you have global settings across games. For example, if like me, you prefer your Y axis inverted in first-person shooters, you can set this in your profile, then whatever game you happen play, the Y axis will be inverted by default. Likewise, if you like an internal view in driving games, you can specify this too and every driving game will give you that view by default.

You can drop back to the Dashboard whenever you like by pressing the central X button on the controller, but you will lose your game progress when you do so. What you can do without losing your game progress is set up your in-game music. The old Xbox let you rip CDs to the hard drive and play your own music during games, but the 360 is so much cooler than that. I plugged my iPod Nano into one of the USB ports on the 360 and it was instantly recognised. I was then able to play music from my Nano during gameplay.

Microsoft Xbox 360

One of the big selling points of the 360 is the High Definition output, although it will work on a standard TV. That said, if you're planning on buying an 360 and connecting it up via composite video, you'll be wasting your money. I hooked the 360 up to a standard-definition widescreen TV using component video and it did look very good, but once you hook up to an HD screen, you'll never want to go back. I connected the machine to a 26in widescreen LCD TV using the official VGA cable - with the resolution set to the panel's native 1280 x 768, the image produced by the 360 was breathtaking. It looked like I was running a very high-spec PC - although the graphics card alone in such a PC would have cost me more than the 360!

One of my pet hates is the lack of component video support on TVs in the UK, but no doubt the 360 and the new generation of HD TVs will change all that. Hopefully this will also address the common misconception that RGB is component video - it isn't. One thing's for sure though, the consumer electronics industry should be very happy, since the 360 is bound to increase HDTV sales.

Of course any console lives and dies by its games - without great software it doesn't matter how good the hardware is. When the original Xbox launched, Halo was so good that it was reason enough to buy the console in the first place, but is there a 'killer app' for the 360? Well there's a strong launch line up, although it must be said that many of the titles are already available on other platforms. Stand out titles for me are Perfect Dark Zero and Project Gotham Racing 3 - both these games have a strong heritage and live up to that history well.

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