XBOX 2 UPDATE

Whatever you want to call it - Xbox 2, Xbox Next, Xbox 360 or Xenon - Microsoft's second console has set the non-bongo part of the internet ablaze with a flurry of insider chatter and speculative gossip.

And if you believe all of these reports, Xbox 2 will be completely wireless and come with a removable hard drive that will also work as an iPod-style music player. All this will be wrapped in a customisable case that will be so sleek and sexy it'll make straight men openly weep.

A detachable hard drive is a feature that has been frequently mentioned in net chatter since Xbox Oberfurher J Allard spoke of it last year.

According to website engadget.com, this easily removable disk drive will slot neatly on to the top of the system, "almost like the hood scoop on a muscle car".

But the wild claims don't end there. For some people have gone on to assert that this portable drive will also feature a small screen and headphone jack, meaning it could be used like an iPod but with the added advantage of carrying all of your saved game data. The xPod anyone?

While the idea has a slight whiff of madness about it, the same sources also reinforce suggestions that the next-gen Xbox will launch in three versions: one cheaper option without a hard drive, the basic console and a PC-style desktop unit.

But the rumour mill just keeps grinding. Another source talks of an infrared pad as part of the standard package and even hints that Xbox 360 (which increasingly seems to be the preferred name) will use a wireless system to send its signal to the TV. Perhaps that is a reaction to the recent outbreak of flammable power leads?

More chatter has also surfaced about the design of the beast, with some sources suggesting that the console will be comparable to the old PS2 in size and weight but with a curvy case and a backlit power button, slap-bang in the middle.

Some reports even mention detachable and customisable panels adorning the box, allowing every owner to personalise their console's colour and design.

So where is the truth in this maelstrom of gossip? Well, as Microsoft don't comment on speculation, they haven't commented on this speculation.

But some things are certain: every publisher and developer is openly talking of getting their games line-up ready for the end of this year - with Dice, today, announcing that Battlefield Modern Combat is already in development for Xbox 360.

More significantly, industry insiders are hinting that Microsoft are planning to reveal their next Xbox to the press in April, a full month before the machine's rumoured showing at May's E3. A rumour that certainly reinforces talk of a November release for the console, both here and in the US.

EDIT: I'll be buying one ....If i can get the dosh.....Time to sell junk on eBay me tinks