Microsoft’s official reveal of the Kinect motion control system and a new smaller Xbox 360 took place this morning at their E3 press conference.  Though several question were answered about each platform, several more went completely unaddressed.

Natal’s Price

This has got to be the biggest omission of the conference.  With recent rumors placing the price of the unit at $149.99, E3 was Microsoft’s chance to set the record straight.  Instead, they focused on the unit’s control of dashboard functions (which, admittedly, looked pretty neat) and several over-long demonstrations of launch games (which were, at best, underwhelming).

Failure to set a price suggests that Microsoft may have less confidence in Kinect than they let on.  True or not, it now appears that press reaction to Kinect’s E3 debut may impact the unit’s price.  Sony’s pricing on the competing PlayStation Move hardware may play a part in determining Kinect’s price, as well.

Whatever the price may ultimately be (and it had better be cheap), Microsoft needs to get that information out as soon as possible.  With Kinect, Microsoft is attempting to assume leadership of the motion-control space.  It is too late for them to be followers now.

Xbox Slim

Apparently, it is simply called the Xbox 360, though I suspect it will informally carry the ‘slim’ tag for the forseeable future.  Definitely smaller than the current unit, and promised to be “whisper quiet” by Microsoft’s Don Mattrick, is this the redesign the console needed?

The new system contains, as expected, a 250 GB hard drive, and built in wi-fi.  That the wi-fi is 802.11n is really cool.  A system that streams as much high definition content as the 360 will really benefit from the added bandwith ‘n’ compliance provides.  But questions remain.

What does the power adapter look like?  The current 360’s notorious “brick” power adapter would seem to be nearly half the size of the new console.  Though hope, for now, remains that the adapter has been brought down to size, Mattrick’s failure to address the issue during the press conference suggests that may not be the case.

The hard drive now appears to be internal.  Can it, like previous 360 hard drives, be swapped out?  If not, what does that mean for current 360 owners who want to trade-up to the newer (presumably more reliable) version of the console?  Again, we don’t currently know.

At least with the Xbox slim, we’ll have our answers soon enough.  The system is due to be on store shelves by the end of the week.

[Update – Joystiq is reporting that the Slim 360’s hard drive can be replaced.  Further, data from older hard drives can be transferred to the new unit via a cable (sold separately for $19.99). The older hard drives themselves, however, are not compatible with the new 360. Thankfully, Joystiq reports that the power supply is indeed “all new and much smaller.”  Furthermore, GameStop has listed the stand alone Kinect unit at $149.99.]

Ranters, we’d love to hear your thoughts on Kinect and the 360 slim. Sound off in the comments below.

Source: Joystiq