Considering that Microsoft has chosen not to go with an Intel CPU for its new Xbox console, it came as quite a surprise to find an Xbox 360 lurking on the third floor of the Moscone Center.
The pre-production Xbox 360 was part of a Microsoft Media Center demonstration, and rather than playing games, the 360 was being used as a Media Center extended device. Streaming all its content from a Media Center PC a few feet away, the 360 showed that it could happily playback High Definition video remotely.
The video that was being streamed was 720p HD content, but Microsoft assured me that the 360 will be capable of showing 1080 HD content for the ultimate High Definition experience.
The Xbox 360 was hooked up to a Samsung DLP rear projection TV via component video. It’s a shame that it wasn’t connected via HDMI, but the Microsoft representative assured me that the 360 can output over HDMI, but that there isn’t a cable available at present. I guess we'll have to wait and see whether this turns out to be true or not.
I have to say that the Xbox 360 is definitely an improvement on the original Xbox as far as design goes. Despite not being a finished model, the unit on show looked pretty good and would definitely fit nicely in my living room. It also seemed fairly quiet in operation, although I was assured that the production devices will be far quieter.
Stumbling across an Xbox 360 was definitely a pleasant surprise, and not something I was expecting to see at IDF. Despite Intel’s lack of input with the Xbox 360, the fact that this device will seamlessly integrate with the Digital Home concept means that Intel couldn’t ignore it. It’s only a month or so until Microsoft will be showing off production versions of the Xbox 360 and I can’t wait to get my paws on one.