Details On The Xbox 360: Speed, Storage And Customization

Machine unveiled Thursday during MTV special hosted by Elijah Wood.

Tonight on MTV: “Pimp My Xbox.”

OK, not really, but the new Xbox 360, which did in fact premiere on MTV Thursday night (May 12), is all about customizing.

At a Hollywood party last week hosted by Elijah Wood and taped for Thursday’s “MTV Presents: Xbox the Next Generation Revealed” special (see “Omarion, Lil Jon, Killers Toast New Xbox At Hollywood Party” ), Microsoft announced the details of the new console, including several ways it can be personalized.

(Click here for photos of the upcoming Xbox 360 )

Before gamers even turn on the Xbox 360, which will hit shelves at the end of the year in North America, Europe and Japan, they can customize the exterior of the sleek, white console with interchangeable faceplates, similar to Nokia phones. Billabong and other companies are already designing faces, one of which will be the American flag for patriotic gamers.

Once the machine is powered on, the system’s screens can also be customized, just like wallpaper on a computer.

And, perhaps most impressive, the Xbox 360 will allow gamers to swap the music of the game being played with whatever CD is in the drive without losing the game’s sound effects.

Along with the customizing features, the console will also allow four wireless controllers to be used simultaneously from the same unit. And through Xbox Live, 64 players from around the world will be able to compete against each other in the same game.

Microsoft is touting the Xbox 360 an “entertainment system” closer to a PC than any gaming console before it. Through the unit, users can store and display digital photos and music, instant message others online and shop through the Xbox Live Marketplace.

  Photos: The upcoming Xbox 360

The system has similar storage and memory to a PC, according to Microsoft, with 512 MB of memory (eight times that of the original console) and three 3.2 GHz processors, far more than the single 733 MHz processor of the Xbox. The new system is also equipped with a 20 GB detachable hard drive, compared with a non-removable 8 GB drive for its predecessor.

The Xbox 360 comes four years after the launch of the original Xbox, giving Microsoft a jump on its competitors, which typically launch new models every five years. The price of the 360 has yet to be announced, although more details about the system are expected to be revealed at next week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.