Despite reports to the contrary Microsoft still has not confirmed reports of the (surely impending) Xbox 360 'Elite' but we're getting down to brass tacks now so let's roll out what we know... or at least what we think we do...
The console will definitely be called the 'Elite' (mock-up above) and the case, controller and Live headset will come in PS3-esque matching black. There will be new packaging and a limited run will initially be in the offing.
The hard drive will be increased to a much welcomed 120GB and there will be HDMI connectivity with an HDMI cable shipped in the box (Sony, take note). The console will run much cooler than existing Xbox 360's though it's not yet known whether this is down to the much anticipated CPU shift to 65nm. That said, all Elite's will be fitted with the quieter DVD drives that are slowly filtering through to new Xbox 360s so expect a major decibel reduction.
The downsides? The Elite will not ship with an integrated, or even bundled, HD DVD drive and wireless is still off the menu.
Once the Elite run finishes plans are afoot to sell the console in its more traditional colours as a replacement for the Premium. This is rumoured to be occurring sometime in Q3. Finally there's consistent talk of a $479 price tag, roughly £250, and while we can never rely on a straight dollar/GBP conversion I suspect it will come in not far shy of the £300. I'm placing my bet on £299.99.
Now come on Microsoft fess up, the cat's already out of the bag.