It's been one of the worst-kept video game secrets of the past month, and this week Microsoft finally confirmed the rumours swirling around the Internet to be true: a new Xbox 360 model is on the way.
Dubbed the Xbox 360 Elite, the third version of the game console will be jet black in colour, boast a 120 GB hard drive (versus the standard Xbox 360's 20 GB drive) and have an HDMI output jack and cable, allowing it to take advantage of the highest resolution available on current high-definition TVs.
Due in Canadian stores on May 4 for $549 -- $50 more than the so-called premium Xbox 360 and $150 more than the Xbox 360 Core -- the Xbox 360 Elite "is aimed at the consumer who was waiting to see all the console offerings presented by all the competitors," said Xbox Canada's Craig Tullett.
"They want something that is in their minds the best of the best."
But the impending arrival of the Xbox 360 Elite hasn't been met with universal praise, even from among some of the Xbox faithful on Internet forums. Some Canadian fans are pointing out that the Elite is the same price as the entry level PlayStation 3 model but lacks the PS3's built-in high-definition, high-capacity Blu-ray disc drive.
Others are bitter that they recently bought an Xbox 360 without having any inkling that a better model of the game console was on the way for just $50 more.
The Xbox 360 Elite's controller and headset will also be black in colour, and black versions of most Xbox 360 accessories will be available in stores when the new console goes on sale.
For those who want to upgrade their current Xbox 360, the 120 GB hard drive will be sold separately for $209, but existing Xbox 360s will not have an option of being upgraded to support HDMI output.
Canadians will also be unable to fill that roomy hard drive with the same selection of movies and TV shows that their counterparts in the U.S. enjoy via downloads from the popular Xbox Live Video Marketplace.
Microsoft says they're committed to bringing the currently U.S.-only Video Marketplace to other countries but that no timetable has yet been established for its availability in Canada.