Xbox 360

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Next-gen gaming is now...

The first of a new breed of consoles is here. With rivals PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Revolution still many months away, some are saying this games box has been crudely rushed onto shelves. Thankfully they're very wrong.

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Update! The new Xbox 360 Slim lands:

- Xbox 360 Slim ultimate guide

- Xbox 360 slim review

- Xbox 360 Kinect review

- Xbox 360 slim UK prices: Dramatic drop

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Hit the bullseye power button and it's instantly clear that you've entered a new era of gaming. If you've got an HD-ready telly the games look pin-sharp - especially big-hitters like Perfect Dark Zero and Call of Duty 2, which are vibrant and move smoothly even at lightning pace, although there are some jagged edges - but even on an old CRT TV the graphical leap remains hugely apparent. To put it in context, if you wanted to play PC games that look this good, you'd have to shell out well over a grand on hardware.

In fact, at £280 you'd be forgiven for thinking that someone had made a mistake with the pricing gun. Not least because you also get a 20GB hard disk, a wireless controller and a headset for Xbox Live online gaming thrown in.

Streaming tunes from your iPod is effortless, as is viewing pics stored PSP or a digital camera - connect via USB and each simply shows up as a 'Portable Device'. Install free Windows Media Connect software on a Windows XP-enabled PC and you can stream songs from there too. And thanks to its polished interface, switching between media and playing Project Gotham 3 online is incredibly easy. You can rip CDs to the hard disk at the press of a button, plus if you've got a Media Centre PC you can beam movie files from your computer to your telly via 360 with no fuss.

The only big corners that have been cut are the ones sliced away to create that slim hourglass figure - a far cry from its bloated predecessor, although the massive separate power supply dampens the effect a little. There are also some rather flimsy parts such as the nasty chrome open button for the DVD drawer.

Future-proofed in terms of gaming grunt, HD-readiness and compatibility with most portable gadgets, this is going to become the new lord of the lounge.