CNET Editor Jeff Bakalar reviews Microsoft Xbox 360 Premium package that is bundled with Forza Motorsport 2 and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (20GB, HDMI). The review begins with a table chart comparing the three different Xbox 360 models - Arcade/Core, Premium, and Elite. (The chart is attached below.) The reviews then examines these areas: hardware reliability, design, video and audio specs, dashboard and interface, Xbox Live and Xbox Live Arcade, marketplace and media capabilities, accessories, and the game library.
The good: Superior selection of games, including several console-exclusive titles; all games in high-definition; user-friendly Dashboard interface; excellent online gaming and communications via Xbox Live; plays hundreds of (but not all) original Xbox titles; doubles as a superior digital media hub and Windows Media Center extender; online Marketplace allows for easy purchases of downloadable full-scale games, mini-games, movies, and TV shows; latest version offers HDMI output with 1080p support.
The bad: Early versions of the console prone to "red ring of death" system crash; noisy exhaust fan and DVD drive; gigantic oversize power supply; no built-in wireless networking or flash media reader; DVD playback has substandard video quality; support for next-gen HD DVD movies requires a bulky external accessory; 20GB hard drive fills up very quickly; online gaming requires a paid subscription to Xbox Live.
The bottom line: With its extensive digital media features, a superior online service, and an excellent game library, the Xbox 360 remains the game console to beat.
CNET Editors' Rating: 8.5/10, Excellent