NEWS - Thursday, December 8, 2005

360 Hard Drive: 20GB Or What?

The Hard Drive: Really 20GB? There was some grumbling around the gaming community when those lucky dogs that own the Xbox 360 premium package checked out the storage space on their optional 20GB hard drive. The bad news read something like this: "13 GB free." Naturally, a lot of 360 owners are wondering just what exactly the other 7 GB are being used for. We got the low down right here. From the beginning, we’ve all known that the HDD is necessary for playing backward compatible games from the Xbox, so the emulator is also included in the HDD, along with some reserved space to download compatibility updates for more games as they become available (Burnout 3 anybody?). Space is also reserved for title updates and patches, probably not too dissimilar from what we’ve seen with Halo 2. Says Microsoft: "Some space on the HDD is set aside to increase overall system functionality, including things like the Xbox emulator to enable backwards compatibility and console and title updates to allow for continued innovation and expansion of the console experience." On, Corporate Vice President of the Xbox Product Group Todd Holmdahl said that the initial batch of 360s includes an "early version" of the Xbox emulator. "An early version of the emulator that supports Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 offline is included on Xbox 360 Hard Drives right out of the box as a special bonus to devoted fans of the franchise. However, to play Halo 2 online, or to play any other titles on the launch list, the full emulator update is required." That update along with future updates are some of the reasons why Microsoft set aside that extra space on the HDD. Holmdahl also said, "It’s easy to get the emulation software, and it’s free. We’ll give gamers a choice—you can get the latest software updates from Xbox Live, burn a CD from or sign up on for a CD that can be delivered to your home at a nominal shipping and handling fee. Once you get the CD, put it in your Xbox 360 and you’re ready to go." The HDD also includes a music database so you can upload music from your CD collection and not have to manually type in the names for your tracks. Services like iTunes manages this with an online database, and we all know the frustration of ripping albums to your computer without being online. The 360 database, conversely, is already loaded on the HDD and, presumably, can be updated online as new albums are released. Also, keep in mind that some content, like music videos and the puzzle game Hexic, is already preloaded on the HDD. Thankfully, you have the ability to delete content if you ever have to start making choices on your hard drive. We’ve downloaded every available Xbox Live Arcade game on one 360 unit in the office and still have a ton of space available.


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