Xbox 360 hacks: an introduction to thinking up useful extras for your console

Thumb - Image 1Ever wanted to know what the Xbox 360 hacking scene was all about? Well, we've got a quick primer for you, covering the basics of the hacking scene without getting overly technical. If you're interested in learning more, why not take a look at our primer after the jump!

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As a person who uses technology in its many shapes and forms, you've probably heard of the word "hack." It has a variety of meanings associated with it, but when it comes to the Xbox 360, a hack usually gives the console a little extra something it didn't used to have.

We've decided to go a little bit in-depth today, with the whole discussion being on the basics of what Xbox 360 hacks are and what they can do for you. Of course, we're keeping this technical article simple, so it's not going to have a lot of newfangled words people rarely hear.

Instead, those interested in the world of Xbox 360 hacks may be able to see the depth and breadth of the hacking scene. Heck, if you know a bit about electronics, it may just entice you to try your hand at a simple hack.

If you're ready to tackle a quick primer on the Xbox 360 Hacking scene, then keep reading.

Nyko's Intercooler: essentially an external console hack - Image 1 What is a hack?

Before we can go into Xbox 360 hacking, let's take a look at the word itself.

These days, a technological hack refers to one of two things. The first hack refers to a fix for or modification of a computer problem or piece of software, such as a bug or error, or even a programming process you just wanna skip.

The second type of hack is more physical, looking outside the computer programming and into modifying the actual computer or its hardware to make it look different or do something it couldn't do otherwise.

This basic delineation between software hacks and hardware hacks is one we will go through while talking about Xbox 360 hacks in particular, though many hacks for the console use a combination of hardware and software hacking to achieve specific goals. That said, let's move on, shall we?

Software hacks can turn a basic system into an extra computer... ideally speaking. - Image 1A brief look at software hacks

Now that we've discussed hacks in general, let's talk about the more esoteric type of hack: the software hack. Generally speaking, software hacks enable you to maintain additional functionality on your Xbox 360 by loading additional programs onto the hard drive or using external programs (usually from your PC) to provide specific requirements for a hack to work.

Without getting too technical, some of the common software hacks happen to involve the ability to dump information from the Xbox 360 to your PC or the changing of your console's firmware, either to upgrade or downgrade it as needed.

Some hacks that require some PC use also allow you to do interesting things with the console. For instance, one guy was able to connect his Xbox 360 to the internet using a cellular phone and a computer. There was also a recent program that enabled users to stream NetFlix videos from the PC to the Xbox 360, though since the recent partnership between NetFlix and Microsoft, this has become a moot point.

Related to software hacking is news of a recent leak of the Xbox Live Experience onto the internet. As was expected of such a leak, people are now trying to find ways to install the incomplete version of the Xbox Live Experience onto their consoles. According to one report we did, someone was able to install the fall update onto his console; though it doesn't do much yet (and requires a modded Xbox 360 to work), it's a pretty good example of a software hack for the Xbox 360.

Link: Cellphone provided Xbox 360 with Internet connection
Link: vmcNetFlix Beta v1.0.22: Stream Netflix movies to your Xbox 360
Link: Xbox Live Experience leaked, possibly running on modded Xbox 360s

Hardware hacks in their many shapes and forms

The bigger piece of the hacking pie definitely has to be the hardware hack. This encompasses everything from simple external modifications to add lights to your console, to opening up your console and adding new chips and whatnot to give it extra functions.

Perhaps the most well-known type of hardware hack for the console (or perhaps, most consoles), is the modchip. The modchip is, usually, literally an additional chip you solder onto your console to allow it to run backups of games. As you can probably guess, this is basically frowned upon by Microsoft, and requires a bit of technical knowhow to pull off.

The XFPS controller mod - Image 1Controller hacks are also popular and frequently seen. For instance, Cyberpyrot of Acidmods has been able to create a voice recognition controller mod that allows him to speak commands rather than perform button presses for them.

Another controller hack of note is the XFPS, which is a physical device you attach to your console that enables you to use a mouse, keyboard, or DualShock 2 controller with the Xbox 360.

As an example of the external console hack, we have cooling modifications available for the 360. While they aren't as needed in the newer versions of the Xbox 360, which carry better cooling systems, things like Nyko's Intercooler attachment (the first picture above) were once seen as worthwhile additions that helped make up for the Xbox 360's weak points.

Link: Cyberpyrot's Voice Recognition Controller Mod
Link: XFPS 360 Reviewed - Fragging Just Got Harder!
Link: Nyko Intercooler 360 achieves record sales
Link: Nyko begins shipping Intercooler EX, Charge Station 360 Elite versions

The Xbox 360 Laptop Hack - Image 1Putting it all together: an Xbox 360 mod for all seasons

While there are many different types of hacks available to the Xbox 360, there's one hack that stands out when it comes to creating a new vision for the Xbox 360. If there was any one hack that would probably entice you to master the ins and outs of electronics, Ben Heckendorn's mod would be it.

The picture you're looking at to the right is of Ben Heckendorn's laptop hack for the Xbox 360. Essentially, he worked for three months to combine an Xbox 360 and a monitor together into a functioning mobile console, and succeeded in doing so.

Not only is it an extreme example of Xbox 360 hacking in action (which, you will note, only repackages the console into a 14-pound laptop), it's also a one-of-a-kind Xbox 360 hack. To our knowledge, there's none other like it.

External Link: Benjamin Heckendorn's Xbox 360 Laptop Mod

Simple or complex, hardware or software, a hack can be a pretty intriguing add-on for your Xbox 360, so long as you have the tools, the know-how, and the elbow grease to get the job done.

That said, we hope this humble primer on the potential of Xbox 360 hacking has made you see your console differently. Your Xbox 360 can be more than what it is right now, so long as you're willing to work on making it better than it already is.

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