Microsoft Xbox 360 (250GB) review

Microsoft's Xbox system has always been formidable when it comes to gaming, and now it's an appealing media hub as well. Tested at £200

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Always a formidable gamer and now a much more appealing media hub


  • +

    Stunning gameplay

  • +

    increasingly capable online services

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    quieter and slicker than before


  • -

    No Blu-ray drive and no 3D abilities

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The latest version of Microsoft's console redresses some of our concerns about the media abilities of the older unit.

The new Xbox 360 is now slimmer, and has a revised disc transport that's now much quieter, while the 250GB hard-drive lets you rip games to avoid undesirable pauses in gameplay.

Online gaming is better than ever
It includes wi-fi too, and online access remains a big part of the experience. You can play games against people online, download demos, view the Sky Player, access and enjoy a whole new approach to gaming with the Kinect control system (£125).

The paid-for Zune service allows for unlimited music streaming to your Xbox and a range of PCs and mobile phones. It also includes video downloads and 24-hour rental, turning your Xbox into a game-playing rival to the likes of Apple TV (£100).

It's now a decent all-rounder
Picture quality is fine – the Xbox shows them in standard-definiition or 1080p depending on your broadband.

It's not as impressive as Blu-ray, but unlike some services, films start playing almost straight immediately.

This raft of improvements paints the Xbox in a rosier hue through our media-tinted specs. Its games have always been great, and now it's a decent all-rounder, too.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test