We have received word that a smaller model Xbox is to be shown at this year's E3 Expo, due to take place in Los Angeles in May of this year. UK insiders are beginning to speak about the machine, which backs up open talk of a smaller unit at the recent CES in Las Vegas. The new machine, referred to as Xbox Lite, is said to be around the size of the PlayStation 2. What's more, the machine will be flat, making it stackable, with a great proportion of the ridging and embossed X being lost.
In a continuation of Microsoft's "listening to gamers" philosophy that saw the controller cut down to size, the firm believes, and rightly so, that an aesthetic rethink will appeal to a wider range of consumers, particularly in the East, where the Xbox continues to struggle.
But there's more to this than simple taste. The Xbox will soon be equipped with portable, handheld device, carrying the name, at least at the moment, Media2Go. Media2Go will be a multimedia delivery system, for both PC and Xbox (using Xbox Live) that will see pay-on-demand movies, music and possible games become a reality for the Xbox. This is the true destiny of Xbox, and its alarming expensive Xbox Live system.
This being the case, the firm simply has to make the Xbox more lounge friendly. A fair criticism levelled at the Xbox was that its design took the console industry back to the teenager's bedroom, at least in term of aesthetic. As far as the high-disposable income, gadget-conscious demographic that is without question the essential proponent of any home console, the Xbox is not acceptable.
For it to become the media online delivery hub, taking pride of place amongst the home entertainment centres of trendy, twenty-somethings, is unthinkable as it stands at the moment. But a smaller, cooler, more "gadgety" model may fair better. But it remains to be seen whether people will be happy to place control of their entertainment in the hands of a company that is courting Hollywood and the RIAA by promising constrictive digital rights management in coming software.
It is also expected that a full demonstration of Media2Go for Xbox, will be held some days before E3.
We'll bring you more as we get it, and remember where you read this first.