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The days of buying one video game console that simply plays video games are long gone. The seventh generation of gaming consoles are mammoth multimedia machines. To help offset cost both Microsoft and Sony have release multiple versions of there popular Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles.

The Xbox owes most of its popularity to its flagship game, Halo. When Halo 3 was released in September 2007, exclusively for Xbox 360, it reached $170 million in U.S. sales and went on to be the best selling game of 2007. To date, Halo 3 has sold more than 8 million copies, even though it is only available on Xbox 360.

Another contributor to the Xbox 360 success, over it’s direct competitor the PS3, is the 360’s seamless integration with the Xbox Live Marketplace. With almost a one year head start, the Xbox 360 kicked off the next generation with a slick new look and an expanded interactive online community that includes multiplayer gaming, movie and television downloads, and retro arcade game downloads. All consoles come with a free Silver membership to Xbox Live. Gold memberships are about $50 a year. The Xbox Live community currently has more than 10 million members.

Although there have been more than 17 million Xbox 360 consoles sold worldwide, the Xbox 360 still trails the Wii in total sales. The Xbox 360 is available in three versions, the “Elite,” Premium and “Arcade.”

Here is a breakdown of Microsoft’s multiple Xbox 360 options:

Xbox 360 Elite

As the name suggests, the Xbox 360 Elite is for the elite super gamers out to save the world from Alien invaders. And at $449.99, the Xbox 360 Elite barely trails the PS3 as one of the most expensive video game consoles on the market. The console is black with chrome trim and includes a custom black wireless controller and black headset for online communication.

This Xbox 360 includes a 120 GB hard drive, network cables, an HDMI cable and is backward compatible with more than 300 original Xbox games. Unfortunately, the Xbox 360 Elite requires additional accessories to play HD DVDs and connect Wi-Fi.>

Since the Xbox 360 Elite includes 120 GB hard drive there is plenty of room to download television programs, hi-def movies, trailers and retro arcade games like Pac-Man. You can also rip CDs directly to the hard drive and use personal songs as soundtracks to games.

Xbox 360

The Xbox 360 Premium, simply known as Xbox 360, is considered the standard Xbox model. With 20 GB of hard drive space the Xbox 360 is almost 100 GB lighter than the Elite model. However, the price tag is also $100 lighter. The Xbox 360 is white with chrome accents, it includes one wireless controller and one head set.

The Xbox 360 includes a network cable, a silver membership to Xbox Live Marketplace, hybrid composite and component cable and an HDMI port, but unlike the Elite, you have to shell out the extra cash for an HDMI cable. It is also backward compatible with more than 300 original Xbox games.

Xbox 360 Arcade

Originally called Xbox 360 Core, the Xbox 360 Arcade is Microsoft’s answer to the moderate gamer that doesn’t require fancy hard drive space. With only 512 MB of built-in hard drive space the Xbox 360 Arcade includes the same amount of storage as the Wii. This makes it great for downloading retro games from the Marketplace, but that is where your multimedia fun ends. The Xbox 360 Arcade does not have the capacity to store many movies, television shows or trailers; especially if they are HD.

At $279.99 the Xbox 360 Arcade competes directly with the Wii. The Xbox 360 Arcade is bundled with a game disc that includes Boob Boom Rocket, Feeding Frenzy, Luxor 2 Pac-Man Champinonship Edition and Uno. Packaged accessories include a wireless controller, standard AV cables and an Xbox live silver membership.

However, the Xbox 360 Arcade does not include a network cable, HDMI cable or have backward compatibility with older Xbox games.

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