While I was at the Microsoft 2008 Global MVP Summit in Seattle during April I was able to visit the Microsoft Company Store. I happened to pickup a shiny new 120GB Xbox 360 Hard Drive while I was there.
Microsoft were really clever when they packaged the 120GB hard drive accessory as they include a USB data transfer cable that hooks up to back USB port of the console and clips onto the 120GB hard drive SATA connector. This allows for the software to move all content (except movie rentals) to your new hard drive albeit only in one direction. So you can’t downgrade your drives at a later stage. They also include a DVD titled “Xbox 360 Hard Drive Transfer” in the kit which does the actual work.
So tonight I decided would be a good time to do the transfer as Eskom aren’t planning on any electricity load shedding. Also you have to know that the 120GB hard drive content will be erased when you do the transfer, so make sure you check out all the content before doing the data migration.
I followed the instructions and connected the 120GB drive up to the back USB port on my console, turned my console on and inserted the software DVD. This is what I saw:
Yes, can you freaking believe it! They have region locked the transfer software. Unfortunately its after hours so I can’t contact the local support line. I’ve tried searching for a solution and it seems I need to get a DVD for PAL consoles as it seems there are 3 versions as there are games, namely NTSC (USA), NTSC (Japan) and PAL. Is it too much to ask that the fact that its region locked appear somewhere on the product packaging at least?
I’m hoping the solution will be a simple Xbox LIVE code I can redeem to download the transfer software to my hard drive or even a memory unit.
After months of waiting for the South African release date to be announced, I can finally confirm that the Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel accessory should be appearing in retailers in June 2008, possibly even at the end of May 2008. The expected retail price is set at R1299 which may seem a bit steep considering the US price is $99 (roughly R745 at today’s rate), its going to be awesome to finally have access to the best racing wheel for the Xbox 360 console.
For those that haven’t heard the good news yet, there was a rather awesome bit of news out of Microsoft today. No Xbox LIVE isn’t officially available in South Africa yet, rather the Xbox 360 product range got a cool R600 to R700 price drop depending on the model. This finally brings the bottom of the range Xbox Arcade into under R2000 which will make a huge difference when the average consumer is in the store about to buy a new console.
This price drop follows the price drop announcement for Europe and is clearly going to boost the local sales. Hopefully the market will grow significantly so that Microsoft’s next major announcement will be Xbox LIVE available in South Africa. Well officially that is.
The official local press release follows:
SOUTH AFRICA – Monday 10th March, 2008– Microsoft today announced that it is lowering the estimated retail price (ERP) for its Xbox 360 family of consoles in Europe and South Africa. Now with an entry-level ERP of R1999.00, Xbox 360 is a mass market entertainment proposition with something to offer for every interest and budget.
From Friday, 14th March, Xbox 360 Pro, which includes a 20GB hard drive and one wireless controller, will have an ERP of R2999.00, a saving of R700.00 on the current ERP. The Xbox 360 Elite, which comes with a massive 120GB hard drive enabling consumers to store huge quantities of content, such as their own music, will have an ERP of R3999.00, a saving of R600.00. The Xbox 360 Arcade console, perfect for those wishing to make their first foray into the gaming and entertainment world of Xbox, will have an ERP of R1999.00, a saving of R700.00.
Xbox 360 is the number one next-gen console in EMEA, owning 42% of the market in terms of life-to-date revenue. Xbox 360 continues to enjoy the highest software attach rate of any game console in Europe with more than 7.0 games sold per console (PS3: 3.8; Wii 3.5) after 26 months on the market.
The new ERPs are part of Microsoft’s ongoing strategy to open up the ultimate in high-definition gaming and entertainment to an even wider audience, with an offering for everyone:
Best Choice for Families:
Xbox 360 grows as your family does, offering games and entertainment for every member of the family – from movies to games to music videos
With over 150 3+ rated games and unparalleled parental controls, parents can feel good about their kids playing Xbox 360
Most Diverse Entertainment:
Xbox 360 offers great choice in high-definition entertainment
It’s easy to view and enjoy video and photos on Xbox 360 as well as connect wirelessly to share content with a Windows Media Center PC
The Best Games:
There will be over 1,000 games available on Xbox 360 by the end of the year, with something for every skill level, interest and taste
Blockbuster franchises like Grand Theft Auto IV and Rock Band
Xbox 360 exclusives for 2008 include Fable 2, Gears of War 2 and Too Human, setting new standards for next-generation gaming
“Xbox 360 is now mass market in Europe and South Africa,” said Chris Lewis, Vice President, Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business in EMEA. “We have reached and surpassed several key milestones that form part of our long term strategic plan to achieve critical mass in Europe and South Africa; and our portfolio now offers the kind of mainstream entertainment experiences that secure wider appeal for Xbox 360. These factors allow us to execute on our strategy to widen the market for Xbox 360, as planned.
“We continue to offer intense, immersive gaming experiences for gamers – but now we’re priced in a way that will allow new consumers to find out for themselves why Xbox 360 is the ultimate in high-definition entertainment.” said Lewis. “History shows that R1999.00 is the price point where a console’s audience begins to expand, and with these new ERPs in place we’re ready to bring more consumers into the Xbox 360 world.”
One game that I’m eagerly awaiting to hit the South African local retail shelves is Rock BandTM. The game allows you to form your own virtual band with lead guitar, bass guitar, drums and of course vocals. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever considered buying a drum set for home. One thing stopping me buying the real deal is because I have neighbours that wouldn’t take too kindly to me making a racket.
Now the Rock Band drum set isn’t quiet either, but at least you can control the volume of your TV or home theatre or simply play with headphones on if you are worried about the noise. The special edition kit comes with all of the instruments pictured below.
And to make you drum set even quieter, a fellow Xbox MVP has developed a novel concept – self-adhesive felt pads called DrumshhhTM which reduce the volume of the drum set by about 50%.
With the recent announcements of the Arcade and Value bundles on the local South African gaming market I thought a buyers guide might be useful. So I’ve taken the liberty to summarise the various console offerings for those considering buying a new console and perhaps dispel a few common misconceptions about various aspects of the Xbox 360 console itself.
Essentially the product offerings can be split into two categories based on the type of user – family and enthusiast. Family users are expected to not really be too concerned about the technical aspects of gaming like Xbox LIVE and backward compatibility and more about a gaming experience suitable for the entire family. Enthusiasts would be the more avid gaming fanatic that has a high-end sound system and wants to play with friends over Xbox LIVE.
How you hook the console up to your display or television is important. All consoles are able to deliver standard definition and high definition video to your display and all consoles include composite (standard A/V) cables. If you have a high definition television then you will want to use with the component HD AV able, HDMI or VGA.
One thing I must point out immediately is this misconception about HDMI. I believe that Microsoft opted to not put an HDMI port on the first Xbox 360 consoles due to the HDMI specification not being finalised as well as poor adoption for the standard by the industry at the time. However as more televisions on the market are supporting the HDMI standard, newer revisions of the Xbox 360 console hardware have an HDMI port. This means that if you have an HDMI enabled television you might want to consider a console that has an HDMI port on it. If you want to use a VGA or LCD computer monitor then you can purchase the VGA cable accessory (R399).
The family offering revolves around the Core model and the newly announced Arcade bundle which is a special for the 2007 festive season only. The new Arcade bundle features the new HDMI port however it must be pointed out that it does not ship with an HDMI cable; this must be purchased separately from your favourite audio visual shop. Included in the bundle are two full titles on disc as well as five arcade games which should cater for the entire family. For R300 extra the Arcade bundle is a very worthwhile option if you were considering a Core and would like an HDMI port, a wireless controller and some games to get you started.
When it comes to enthusiasts there are four product choices. What sets them apart of the Core and Arcade are the additions of a hard drive, a high definition enabled audio video cable and an Xbox LIVE wired headset. The removable hard drives are available as an accessories (20GB R999 or 120GB R1999) as well as the component HD AV cable (R399) so a Core or Arcade console can easily be upgraded at a later stage but it will cost you almost the same as buying an Elite console. Note that the Halo 3 Special Edition console will only be available until stocks run out and the Value bundle is a 2007 festive season special as well.
The Elite console is really the ultimate console for the extreme enthusiast out there. Its got a whopping 120GB hard drive and it comes with an HDMI cable (R250) and a Play & Charge kit (R199) in the box.
Composite AV cable Wired controller
Arcade bundle (limited stock)
2 bundled games 256MB memory unit 5 bundled arcade games Composite AV cable HDMI port Wireless controller
20GB hard drive Component HD AV cable Ethernet cable Wired headset Wireless controller
Halo 3 Special Edition (some stock still remaining)
20GB hard drive (branded) Component HD AV cable Ethernet cable Halo 3 Gamer Pics and Theme HDMI port Play & Charge kit Wired headset (branded) Wireless controller (branded)
Value bundle (limited stock)
20GB hard drive 4 bundled games Component HD AV cable Ethernet cable Wired headset Wireless controller
Elite (black console)
120GB hard drive (black) Component HD AV cable Ethernet cable (black) HDMI port & cable Play & Charge kit Wired headset (black) Wireless controller (black)
One thing worth noting is that all Xbox 360 consoles are technically capable of running all Xbox 360 games on the market. However in order to be able to run older original Xbox 1 games or to connect to Xbox LIVE for an online experience, an Xbox 360 hard drive is required. In addition all consoles can be used with both wired and wireless controllers regardless of what is included in the retail box. Up to four wired (R329) or wireless (R399) controllers can be connected at any given time and and are available separately as accessories. If you but wireless controllers I highly recommend buying a Play & Charge kit (R199) which makes a wireless controller rechargeable from any USB port. If you have multiple wireless controllers you can buy extra rechargeable battery packs (R149) and use recharge them with the cable from the Play & Charge kit.