When UPS delivered it, I was surprised by the weight of the box. The system itself is heavy and very sturdy. The power brick weighs about as much as the system itself and has a fairly large footprint which could be an issue for people with a mess of wires and power strips behind their entertainment center already.
Setting up the system is easy, just like any other game system. One thing of note, though, there is a clear plastic sticker over the DVD drive. It is there, presumably, to protect the shiny chrome of the tray. Make sure you take it off before you try to open the drive. Once everything is hooked up, you can just turn on the Xbox 360 (and turn on the controller) and you are then whisked through a setup process that sets the time and lets you set up an Xbox Live account by either creating a new one or transferring an old one. Your gamertag becomes your gamer profile on Xbox 360 and keeps track of all of your accomplishments along with a lot more.
The Xbox 360 dashboard is actually a pretty darn slick little setup. There are different blades for Xbox Live, system setup, music-videos-photos, and more. It is very easy to navigate and gives you a lot of information and a ton of options to make your Xbox 360 experience however you want it. You can change the look of the dashboard by selecting a different theme and I am happy to report that the system comes with several themes already loaded that feature a number of different games and publishers. Im quite fond of the Halo theme myself. A nice touch is that you can play music while you browse the dashboard. Not a big deal, but it is something that I appreciate. Even better is that the Xbox 360 recognizes CD-Rs so you can rip all of your copied music onto your Xbox 360. My custom soundtracks are going to be much improved from my original Xbox selection.
Another interesting feature is that you can adjust settings on the dashboard that will affect the games you play. You can set what difficulty level you like to play at or things like whether you want an automatic or a manual transmission in a racing game. These settings will apply to all games to order to give you a more consistent and streamlined experience as you move from game to game. Settings can be adjusted in the games individually, of course, but these global settings are definitely going to come in handy.
The controller is also very nice. It feels absolutely wonderful in your hands. My one gripe is that I think Im going to miss the black and white buttons quite a bit because the new shoulder buttons are somewhat hard to hit during normal gameplay. The controller comes with batteries (the remote also comes with batteries and for some reason Im amazed when a $400 product actually includes the batteries ) and putting them in is a snap. There has been a lot of talk about how Microsoft is nickel and diming gamers by not including the rechargeable battery and recharge kit with the system and I have one thing to say about that AA batteries are cheap. Also, if other wireless controllers are anything to go by, the batteries should last a very long time. If you want to spend the extra dough for your controller accessories, by all means do it, but I think plain old batteries will do the job for most people.
As of right now, there isnt much on the Xbox Live Marketplace and the new emulation software for backwards compatibility isnt available yet, but it will be up in the next few days just in time for launch. Halo and Halo 2 work great right out of the box.
Keep checking xbox.about.com for more Xbox 360 news, impressions, and reviews!