It appears, going by some advertisements popping up online just before E3 kicks off, that Microsoft plans to unveil a new model of the Xbox 360. What, then, does this new console bring to the table?
For starters, as you can see, the most immediate difference is in the look of the machine. Gone are the smooth lines of the current model, replaced by something that looks sharp, and angry. It's definitely not the path I thought Microsoft would take in trying to make the Xbox 360 more "family focused", and I'm not a fan of its "PC case mod" design.
Advertisements say that, in terms of storage, this new Xbox has a 250GB hard drive. A good amount, but there are already 360s available with that capacity, so it's hardly a game-changer.
A more promising new feature is the inclusion of a built-in wi-fi adapter, something gamers have been crying out for since the original Xbox 360 does not include one and Microsoft's add-on device is priced extortionately.
The original rumours, some of which took to calling this the "Xbox 360 Slim", everyone assuming that becase the PlayStation 3's second model got smaller that Microsoft would follow suit. But looking at the size of this console's disc tray and power button (itself newly-designed), it doesn't appear to be significantly smaller than the existing Xbox 360. A little thinner, perhaps, but nothing drastic.
Assuming that the advertisements are 100% legitimate (and Microsoft obviously isn't going to clarify this ahead of its E3 press conference), that's all the stuff we know. So what can we assume?
Well, we can assume it's a new console designed with two things in mind: to cut production costs and give the Xbox 360 a mid-life facelift to coincide with the launch of Project Natal and a fresh new image for Microsoft's game machine.
While this means it'll likely have the same level of performance as existing Xbox 360s (same horsepower, same memory, etc), you'd think it will also have an all-new internal design (like, say, this one, spotted a few months back), utilising smaller, more efficient chips and better heat management. It would be great if it was also quieter.
This would in turn lead to a price cut on the console, perhaps down to the $199 mark of the existing Arcade model, while "older" Xbox 360s would presumably go on sale to clear out old stock. A cheaper price point would certainly help new consumers deal with the sticker shock of having to buy an Xbox 360 and Project Natal to get in on the next big thing.
The only pictures we've got so far of this supposed refresh don't seem to show anything else; or at least nothing else drastic, like Project Natal somehow being built into the console. The one minor thing I can see is that there doesn't appear to be any USB ports on the front of the console, which if correct would be a pain for anyone that plays Rock Band regularly.
There are two final things I'd like to know: one, whether the Xbox 360 controller has seen a redesign as well; it was built to complement the curves of the original Xbox 360 design, so if the new 360 is sharp and angry, will a new controller follow suit? I hope not. I like the current control pads just the way they are.
One last thing before we get too carried away, remember: this isn't confirmed. And likely won't be until Microsoft's E3 press conference.