This full-colour pocket sized book offers a complete guide to everything Xbox, from what makes up the internals of the Xbox console, to first and third party accessories, using Xbox Live and generally getting the most out of the machine.

Xbox Fan Book - ISBN: 0596008848

Basics of setting up the console for the first time, navigating the dashboard menus and what each of the available settings will allow you to change are all covered in great detail to start off with, before author Mark Holt Walker goes on to look at improvements to the audio and video by using advanced scart leads and optical audio cables which can be hooked up to a surround sound system for a more immersive (and highly recommended) gaming experience.

Using the Xbox for head-to-head gaming via a simple LAN using everything from Cross-over cables to hubs and routers is covered, with full details of how to get the machine connected up so as your machine can be played on Xbox Live, including details of setting gateway IP addresses and using a wireless network instead of ethernet cables.

Once online the Xbox Live chapter of the book could prove invaluable to newer users, and although much of the information such as game lobby icons is available in manuals, it's usually well buried away and missed. Integration with MSN Messenger is also covered, showing how to get notifications of new downloadable content and game invites from other Xbox Live friends direct to the MSN Messenger software on your PC.

Steering wheels, wireless controllers, light guns, dancemats and even the Thrustmaster Freestyler Board are given a mention as available accessories, as is the Xbox save-game cheat disc system Gameshark - although it's a shame that the Action Replay system didn't receive a mention, as it's more widely available in the UK and appears to be the favoured choice of British gamers.

Notable games are also given a mini-review, although this section of the book feels slightly lacking and as though it's offering little more than back-of-box blurb about titles including Project Gotham Racing 2, Fable and Halo 2.

A final chapter in the book looks at the "next Xbox" and speculates as to the sort of hardware which will be used in the console, whilst considering factors such as backwards compatibility with existing games, and what the future holds for Xbox gamers.

The book is smaller in both size and page numbers than something like the Gaming Hacks book, but offers a bright and interesting read - and being released so near to Christmas also makes it an ideal stocking filler.

Overall score: 7 out of 10
Publisher: O'Reilly
ISBN: 0596008848
Recommended Price: 9.95
Available: Now
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