Xbox 360 will relaunch in the US on 29th April with a 120GB hard disk drive and a high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) port. It will retail for US$ 479.99 (GBP 245 / EUR 360).
A European launch is reportedly scheduled for later in 2007, with Albert Penello, Microsoft's director of global platform marketing, telling Major Nelson that it will appear here in "late summer". However, a Microsoft UK spokesperson was unable to confirm that when we spoke this morning.
The "Elite" console will be black, which is obviously a new look for consoles (leave it), and you can see how it's shaping in the official Xbox 360 Elite photo gallery. The US$ 479 bundle will also include an HDMI cable, a component/SD cable, a wireless controller, an Xbox Live headset, and one month's subscription to Xbox Live Gold.
The 120GB hard disk will also be sold separately so that existing 360 owners can get in on the action. The standalone drive will be grey, rather than the Elite bundle's black, and will come with a data transfer cable for copying your files onto the new storage device. Expect the standalone drive to cost US$ 179.99 (GBP 91 / EUR 134).
The Elite itself will not come with the data transfer cable, but Microsoft is thought to be working on a solution for people who want to migrate to the new hardware.
"Today's games and entertainment enthusiast has an insatiable appetite for digital high-definition content," said Peter Moore, popping up in the press release for the first time in a while (perhaps he's been playing Slitherlink). "Xbox 360 Elite's larger hard drive and premium accessories will allow our community to enjoy all that the next generation of entertainment has to offer."
They will also give Microsoft yet another Xbox 360 SKU with which to try and offset Sony's entrance into the market with the premium PlayStation 3. In the US, the lower-end PS3 unit retails for US$ 499, although Sony would probably want us to point out that you also get a Blu-ray drive with every console, whereas Microsoft's HD-DVD offering is sold separately.
Microsoft already offers the Xbox 360 Core System and a Premium version, neither of which is being retired.
Meanwhile, Microsoft Japan has said that the 120GB hard disk will be released there on 7th June, but has yet to confirm that an Elite package will be offered in the region where the console's sales are traditionally lowest.