Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/1686



One of the big items of this year's E3 is, of course, Microsoft's Xbox 360 - and thus it was the focus of our first few hours on the show floor.

Given that the Xbox 360 is supposed to launch and be available by the end of this year, we expected to see a pretty large showing of it at this year's E3. Don't be mistaken, the vast majority of this year's show focused on currently available consoles - the original Xbox, Playstation 2, Gamecube and a plethora of mobile gaming platforms, but there were hints of the new console spread out throughout the show.

Basically at every booth where there was a long line, you could either expect to see a Xbox 360 demo or someone was giving away free stuff.



Xbox 360 - The Controller

In our original article about the Xbox 360 we stated that the new 360 controller appeared to be physically smaller than the current Xbox S controllers. Our first goal at the show was to play around with the new controller, and we were not disappointed.

All of the 360 controllers at E3 are unfortunately wired (more on why later) and thus are probably a bit lighter than their wireless counterparts that will launch with the console. The controller itself is significantly lighter than the current generation S controller; we were unable to test force feedback capabilities of the controllers, so it is possible that these controllers had smaller motors or didn't have any at all.

Ergonomically the new controller is a huge improvement over the current Xbox controller. We were originally skeptical about how comfortable it would be to have two sets of buttons at the top of the controller, but our fears were put to rest after just minutes with the new controller. It is extremely comfortable, much lighter (although that may change) and the layout is quite well done.


The four buttons at the top of the controller are easily accessed with one two fingers, one for each side.

The 360 button in the center was also quite impressive; it's got four independent quadrants that light up according to what controller number you're holding.



The Console

The console itself looked very similar to what we saw in videos - very sleek, and quite Apple-like in our opinion.

The Hard Drive is extremely discrete, and based on its size we'd say it has to be a 2.5" drive.



The DVD Remote

The Xbox 360 remote is quite small, a bit longer than the controller itself.

It appears to be geared to function as both a Xbox 360 remote control as well as a remote for a Media Center Edition PC (note the green MCE button at the bottom of the remote).



Powermac G5s at the Show

In Microsoft's own Xbox 360 booth, we saw tons of kiosks running upcoming 360 titles that were actually playable.

Games like Top Spin 2 and Need for Speed were playable, but for some reason they didn't actually look all that great for a next-generation console.


Note the aliasing in this screenshot...the Xbox 360 GPU is supposed to have AA enabled at all times...

To find out why, we had to look a little closer at the kiosks.

Each kiosk had a wired Xbox 360 controller connected to it, running into the base of the kiosk that only had one small window showing off a Xbox 360 console.

But the console itself wasn't on, looking at the right of the kiosk you get to see the actual power behind the demos:


Are those two G5s?

A pair of Apple Powermac G5 systems were actually running the Xbox 360 demos, not the 360 console. The consoles in the kiosks weren't actually running, they were just for show - now you know why all the controllers were wired.


Yeah they are

Because the G5 systems can only use a GeForce 6800 Ultra or an ATI Radeon X800 XT, developers had to significantly reduce the image quality of their demos - which explains their lack luster appearance. Anti-aliasing wasn't enabled on any of the demos, while the final Xbox 360 console will have 4X AA enabled on all titles.

We are disappointed that all of Microsoft's Xbox 360 kiosks were running G5 systems as we wanted to see real hardware in action, not behind glass, but Apple should be quite happy.



An Actual Running Xbox 360 at E3

ATI was fortunate enough to have a working Xbox 360 sample at their booth:

There was no controller hooked up to the sample, and ATI stationed one employee next to the box at all times to avoid anyone making off with it. The console itself was behind a glass box.

The machine was running ATI's R520 Ruby demo, which took about a week to port to the 360 from the original PC version. The hardware in this particular box wasn't running at full speed, but ATI mentioned that they could if need be.

ATI has had Xbox 360 GPU silicon back since last November, so we tend to believe them.

With the first half of today spent searching for Xbox 360, now we turn to the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center...

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