Microsoft has announced their new, ‘slim’ Xbox 360. But what’s the difference? And why should you buy one? Here’s the differences between the old and the new.

First, what’s the same: the games. The new Xbox does not play any new games, and does not have any better game performance. No need to worry about being unable to play new games on your old 360. The new Xbox comes in a package that says ‘Kinect-ready’, but Microsoft has confirmed that all Xbox 360s are compatible with Kinect as well.

What’s new: the fan. Noise and heat were always big complaints for 360 owners, and Microsoft has apparently revamped the entire cooling system. The system now vents from the side (or the top if you have it laid on its side). The system is also ‘whisper quiet’

The new 360 does not support memory cards anymore, since Microsoft has made it possible to use any USB thumb drive as a storage device. The front USB slots are still there, for controllers or storage, but Microsoft also added 2 more USB ports on the back, bringing the total to three in the back and two in the front. The new console also supports wireless N right out of the box; no need for an external adapter anymore, and Microsoft took away the recess in the back for that adapter.

Optical audio is now an option straight from the 360. There’s a direct out on the back instead of having to use A/V cables. The console also features a hybrid data and power port for the Kinect hardware; original consoles will need to use a separate power adapter.

The console is still compatible with the original 360 controllers, both wired and wireless. The wireless sync button has been built into the front IR port for aesthetic reasons. The power supply is different for the new console, it’s now 135 watt and a bit smaller. The new console still features the removable hard drive, but it is not backwards compatible.

All in all, a solid piece of hardware. Is it worth upgrading from your current 360? Probably not, but for a new buyer the new features make this Xbox is a no-brainer; if you can find one. They’ve sold out of many retail venues.