I hooked the Elite up to a Toshiba Regza 42X3030D 42in TV, which has a Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 panel and will accept a 1080p input. Interestingly, when connecting via HDMI, the Elite seems to default to the best possible resolution, so the output instantly switched to 1080p when the console was turned on.
There's no denying that bright and vivid games like Virtua Tennis 3 and Dead or Alive 4 look amazing on the Elite when connected to the Toshiba over HDMI. Likewise, dark and atmospheric games like the superb Bioshock and Gears of War looked crisp, clean and just generally awesome. However, when switching to component output and firing up the same games, the effect was no less impressive - the Xbox 360 still looks pretty damn good, no matter which high definition connection method you opt for.
Strangely Microsoft chose to equip the Elite with an HDMI 1.2 port, rather than the newer 1.3 standard. This means that you won't be able to output a lossless Dolby TrueHD audio stream from an HD DVD - assuming you have an HD DVD drive of course. It also means that the Elite won't be able to make use of the high bit depth Deep Colour feature that HDMI 1.3 supports, although there's still no software available that utilises Deep Colour.
Very little has changed at the rear of the console, with the HDMI port squeezed in next to the standard AV connector. I do mean squeezed too - so much so that you can't actually fit the component/AV cable and the HDMI cable in at the same time. The breakout audio cable has a far slimmer plug than the component/AV cable, which allows it to be plugged in along with the HDMI cable.
The other big change is the hard disk. The original Xbox 360 Premium console shipped with a 20GB hard drive, which gave you around 13GB of actual storage space straight out of the box. Of course this was still a big improvement over the 8GB hard drive that shipped with the original Xbox, while the PlayStation 2 had no mass storage at all. However, once you start to download high definition trailers and music videos, along with game demos and game save data, that 13GB starts to run low.
The Elite addresses the hard disk capacity issue by shipping with a 120GB drive as standard. I don't think it's a coincidence that the Elite has a hard drive that's twice the size of the unit that Sony ships in the PS3, after all "twice as big" sounds pretty good if you're a marketing type that believes that size matters. Of course it's worth remembering that the hard drive in the PS3 is user upgradable with a bog standards 2.5in SATA unit. You can also plug an external USB hard drive into a PS3 to augment storage, something that you can't do with an Xbox 360.