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I came relatively late to the world of Xbox 360, courtesy of a freebie from a mobile phone contract upgrade. After initially playing a few games and discovering the fun to be had from online gaming, it soon became clear that the 4Gb of memory supplied with the unit wasn't going to be enough.
The hard drive upgrade is the obvious solution to storage issues. It was especially easy to install, there is a slot underneath the Xbox which is custom made for it. You just slot the unit in and off you go. It is a bit expensive when compared to the freestanding hard drives you can get for PC's but I paid around £40 for mine which seems reasonable.
The advantages are clear straight away. Firstly, it makes it a lot easier to download and store demos. Also, any in-game storage requirements are well catered for. I've bought a couple of the add-ons for Modern Warfare 3 and some Guitar Hero packs and still have plenty of room left. I don't imagine even the most hardened player is going to run out of room for save games either.
I didn't realise initially that a game can be stored on the hard drive to speed up access. This has proved useful for me in a couple of cases. I have a game called Rage which supports high definition graphics but only if you install the game to your hard drive. It's nice to be able to do this and the game looks great because of it. Also, I have a couple of second-hand titles which have disks that are a bit scratched. Frequently, these would struggle to load but once they were installed on the hard drive, I could run them every time ( you still need the original disk but it clearly doesn't need to read much of it any more).
I haven't downloaded any music or films yet but I can see that I've got plenty of room if I decide to. So I think this is a no-brainer for anyone with a 4Gb Xbox 360.
My xbox slim uses one of these as the main drive and has been doing so for many months. The hard drive is entirely blocked in by a plastic casing and there is no easy access to the hard drive if you want to open it up to clean or repair etc. Note that when you do you void your warranty but since these have been out a while your warranty may be void and you wont be able to get it repaired anyway. Mine has been good up until about 2 months a go when it started corrupting Halo 3 saved forge map data. Of course Microsoft cant just repair or replace for that because they don't know if you did it or not, but equally i've got some warranty left so i cant perform basic repairs like checking for obstructive dirt and dust.
The hard drive scores marks for speed i'll give it some credit there. On the old (fat) xbox you had a massive and heavy hard drive on the top but which took what seemed like an age to save large files such as maps and vinyl's on a car in Forza. There is a noticeable difference with this by shaving precious seconds off save times particularly on Forza and Halo.
The hard drive is very easy to clean because its smooth piano black plastic casing can just be wiped down. This is also a negative because piano black is prone to fingerprints and grease of which, mine is covered in top to bottom. It is easy to setup and run though, your slim will instantly recognise it and begin using it as the main hard drive at the top of the select save device menu and you can even begin saving straight away since MS very kindly put organisation files on there for you such as games, gamer pics, music, videos and more.
The hard drive is lightweight and portable, its no bigger than the palm of my hand all be it a bit thick (pardon the pun) and doesn't make much noise. Its durable to small knocks and drops as i found out by accident. The casing is quite durable and simple with a fabric tab that has the capacity woven into the stitching. This tab can be pulled out to release the hard drive from its bay. The tab is very sturdy, hasn't broken for me yet and takes just seconds to remove.
Overall i think Microsoft have finally built something worth paying for, which for me is a first.