Ever since Sony showed off by releasing the PlayStation 3 Slim in late 2009, Microsoft’s competition has been building. In July 2010, Microsoft released the new Xbox 360 S (the S stands for Slim, too). This latest version of the Xbox 360 has both the features the original had as well as a few new ones, to help overcome Sony’s hardware superiority with the Blu-Ray player, among other things.
One of the most exciting new features on the Xbox 360 S is the addition of WiFi connectivity, so that the console can connect directly to a wireless network (or WAN) without a costly peripheral. This brought it up to speed both with the PS3 and Nintendo’s Wii. Although there were some Xbox 360 models in the older style that had significant hard drive space, the 360 S comes with more storage than most models of the old style. Another change is the removal of the memory card slots; instead, Microsoft added more USB ports, increasing the total number to 5. Anticipating the release of the Kinect, which followed in November 2010, Microsoft also added a special port so that the Kinect could be connected to the 360 S more easily; to hook up the Kinect to an older Xbox 360, you need an extra power source. And, of course, Microsoft also made the 360 S slimmer and smaller, giving it more room in your entertainment center to breathe and stay cool.
Even so, some things have stayed the same. Microsoft did not add alter the disc drive, which still reads CDs and DVDs; they also did not reduce the backwards compatibility of the Xbox 360, which can play the vast majority of original Xbox games. They also did not amend their Xbox Live plans or policies. There are two Live plans available: Gold (which costs money, but allows earlier access to downloads, online gaming, and the use of Hulu Plus, Netflix, and similar services) and Silver (which is free to anyone who owns an Xbox 360, but only has online chat without gaming).
These features in both the classic Xbox 360 and the Xbox 360 S give Microsoft a much-needed edge to compete with Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo’s Wii.