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Microsoft XBOX Console Unveiled!


When the Xbox is in town, no trade show is safe. After having conquered last year's GDC, wowing people at E3, and building momentum at the Tokyo Gameshow, Bill Gates has started 2001 with a blast by revealing the look of the console and controller during the keynote address at this year's CES -- taking place this very moment. Even WWF's The Rock is around to help add some starpower to the event. But celebrities or not, the hardware's the true star at this year's CES. Without further ado, take a look at the console and the controller that will be competing for your hearts this fall.

The signature green X makes an appearance as a jewel in the center of the console, but otherwise Microsoft has opted to keep things a sleek black, bringing back memories of the original Sega Saturn. Earlier iterations of the console sported a silver version of the X on top, but it looks as if the company has opted to go for a more monochromatic look, fitting with the current set of consoles on the market. Four controller slots, a power button, and a large eject button keep the front of the box simple, with the asymmetrical "Xbox" emblazoned CD tray cut discreetly to the left of center. The back of the box is filled with a fan, an audio/video out similar to the Dreamcast and the PlayStation 2, a power cable connection, and an Ethernet port for instant broadband access.

The console design may seem similar to a variety of past console systems, but the controller will look incredibly familiar to Dreamcast gamers, especially the button arrangement and shape of the Xbox gamepad. A list of the controller's features only deepens the resemblance:
* Eight-way D-pad, similar to the Sidewinder design
* Two analog sticks Two shoulder triggers (not pictured)
* Six pressure-sensitive analog buttons
* Dual slots for memory cards and other peripherals (not pictured) Built in rumble ability 9.5 foot cord

The cord length, rumble feature and analog buttons all point to the PlayStation 2 controller, but overall the look is striking in its resemblance to Sega's Dreamcast gamepad. For more information on the controller, make sure to check out our controller story.

Along with the hardware demonstration, today's keynote address was also an opportunity to demonstrate game demos running on the Xbox hardware, with two major titles being shown: Munch's Oddysee, and Malice. We'll have more impressions of the demonstrations later in the day.

While it had become clear that Microsoft's plan was to reveal the design of the system during 2001, no one guessed it would be quite so fast. After nine months of very little solid information, this year will be focused on key bits of information over the coming months, culminating in this year's E3. The next milestone in the Xbox's life will be this year's Gamestock, to take place in February of this year. Look for more game announcements, demos, and information about the system then


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