Gamers Get Taste of Xbox 360 Specs

Less than 48 hours before its public unveiling on MTV, details on Microsoft's Xbox 360 console -- perhaps the worst kept secret in the gaming industry -- have made their way onto the Web.

The Xbox will stand vertically on end and feature a white chassis with some limited options for personalization. Each unit will be equipped with a wireless controller and a multi-function remote control with advanced multimedia capabilities.

It is also known that the user interface will resemble Windows Media Center and specialize in managing pictures and digital media.

Microsoft will formally announce the Xbox 360 in an MTV special on May 12 that will be broadcasted worldwide. In the build up to the event, screenshots of the console began to appear on enthusiast sites after a pre-launch event where guests snapped pictures with cell phone cameras.

In so far as digital media goes, the Xbox 360 is engineered with high definition playback (HD) in mind. Microsoft has developed customized video technologies in partnership with ATI, as well as a multi-core processor designed by IBM. Multi-core processors can make more of the Xbox's resources available at any given time, allowing for simultaneous game play and digital media playback.

Another standard feature of the Xbox 360 will be multi-channel, positional audio fidelity to deliver true surround sound.

Microsoft will be first to market in the next round of the gaming wars with rivals Sony and Nintendo. This was known after Chairman Bill Gates inadvertently let Microsoft's projected pre-holiday ship date slip during an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The specific date that the Xbox will be released to the market and its pricing details is still unknown, however.

Customers who purchase the new console will encounter a revamped Xbox guide where they create their own profiles for Xbox Live online gaming, have in-game music playlists for custom game tracks, as well as a "marketplace" to purchase custom add-ons for games. Software and services will be coupled with more than a teraflop of computing power for gaming and entertainment purposes.

In recent years Microsoft has made a concentrated push into the living room with Windows Media Center and a cadre of related devices such as Windows Media Extender to stream audio and video wirelessly through the home.

"First out with a new game console is important, but not necessarily devise. Remember that Xbox shipped after PS2 and Gamecube, yet sold quite well. Right now, winning the market will be as much about game development as releasing the coolest console. Xbox has had a couple recent big game hits and Microsoft is courting developers with XNA," Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox told BetaNews.

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