What this gives you is a machine with PC power and equivalent graphics that plays on your television screen. Imagine a P4 2 GHz machine with buckets of memory and a GeForce 3 card with all the extra options--such as tri-linear, bump mapping and shadows--turned on and you might start to get close on the graphics. The set video pieces are like something out of the Final Fantasy movie and are far above anything previously seen on a console.
The eye candy doesn't stop with the cinematic sequences. Once you start playing the games themselves they ooze creativity and atmosphere. Titles such as Halo and Oddworld: Munch's Odyssey show a graphical style that make them simply the best-looking console games you will see on your TV.
It is not only graphics that Microsoft has gone to great pains to get right. Sound plays a huge part in the immersive atmosphere that the console is aiming for. To this end the Xbox boasts 256 audio channels as well as supporting Dolby Digital and Dolby Surround which all combine to give you an unrivalled audio experience. You will almost feel the bullets whizzing over your head from all directions in Halo.
The system also supports DVD playback which is accessed by a remote control sold separately. This is a good thing because you don't have to faff around pausing movies with the right trigger or left d-pad.
In Xbox you get the gaming capabilities of a top of the range PC with all the extras. You can't do your monthly accounts on it or edit your home movies but this machine is for playing with and that's what it excels at. --Jason Denwood