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360-HQ.COM :: Xk3y/xKey/x360Key Review
Xk3y/xKey/x360Key Review
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X_Splinter
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:02 pm   
Post subject: Xk3y/xKey/x360Key Review
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I promise to write my thoughts about Xk3y, but I ended up making a full review.



The following review is about Xk3y R7-2 v1.1 (there is no such thing as v2) using a xbox 360 phat

Intro

What is xK3y?
The xK3y (aka xKey, x360Key and XKey360) is an optical disc drive emulator for the Xbox 360 (both Phat and Slim).

How it works?
x360key consists of 2 parts, a motherboard and a remote(optional).

The motherboard connects to the SATA bus inside the Xbox 360, and sits between the drive and the Xbox 360 motherboard. x360key is a full-fledged computer system running embedded Linux. It is capable of:
- Emulating the Xbox 360 DVD drive
- Reading USB hard drives and other USB media with various file systems
- Updating itself and other hardware from USB media
- Communicating with the remote and other external USB devices
- And more...

What's the remote for?

The remote is a simple piece of hardware that features an OLED display and 3 buttons. It connects to the x360key motherboard via USB2 trought the FFC/USB dongle. It also has USB for connecting USB hard drives and other devices. The OLED and buttons are used to control various aspects of x360key. It is also used for browsing attached USB media devices and launching games.


What's deferent in R7-2 (v1.1)?
The main difference is that new version uses a Flat Flex Cable (FFC) instead of USB cable to connect the motherboard with the remote outside the xbox 360. This makes the installation easier and wont damage the xbox case.
For that reason it uses a FFC/USB dongle to power and connect the remote or USB disk to the xk3y board:

Also the Sata ports are different, more resistant. And the MicroSD reader is different now (spring port like laptops) Overall the hardware is better.

Installation
(Review based on 3 installations on a Phat)

Firmware
First boot: Plug in the microSd on you PC, add your dump of the original firmware (firmware.bin) to the root of the card (when using a slim all you need the dummy.bin). When the xKey boots, the firmware file its analyzed, the drive type is identified and the drive key etc. are extracted.

You also have .cfg file that you can edit (the most important is the language)

By the time of this review the latest firmware is/was 01.20

Hardware



The installation is theoretically easy, no soldering and no cuts. It's basically plugging cables. (2 Satas and 2 Power - one of each connects to the x360 motherboard and the other two to the drive)

You then plug the FFC cable and isolate the xk3y board with the paper cover.

The problem here is the size of the board(specially in the Slims), putting it in place to close the xbox may be a pain in the S literally. Mainly because you have to lower the xk3y and the Sata cables apply pressure in the opposite direction.
Either way it's still an easy installation, just be patient with it's size.

If you are going to plug in the dongle on the back USB (not recommend if you are planing in using Kinect) you can use the small FFC cable.
I recommend using the front USB ports, simple pass the longer FFC cable over the top of the DVD drive and behind the faceplate. (a tutorial will be added soon)

Usage

After you've successfully installed the xK3y, you can start it using it right away, connect a hard drive with your Xbox 360 or Xbox 1 backups or even DVD Movie iso's.

Xk3y consist in 2 modes: "Emulation mode" and "Passthru Mode"

Emulation mode
This is the mode why you bough an Xk3y

You start your console by pressing the power button or with the controller, xk3y will get into the emulation mode. This mode allows you to select your games from your USB drive(s) via:

✱ the xK3y remote
(simple browse with the controller - select the game and eject the tray)

✱ MenuIso
(eject xk3y with no games selected, Xk3y will automatically create (instantaneous) and load isoMenu)


✱ DvdMenu (beta)
(it's a pre-made Iso made with an App, it's in beta state, unlike isomenu, you have to pre-made every time you had an iso and only works with a single Hardrive or partition)


Passthru Mode

You activate it by turning on your console using the eject button.
The passthru mode deactivates the xK3y to allow the use of original Xbox 360 drive. That means you can use your physical drive anytime you want.

This is also perfect when a new dash updates flash your drive.

Xbox Live
The xK3y currently works fine with Xbox Live Smile

Quote:
" a firmware with a rootkit like LT+ is great and works fine, but can never reach the complexity of a hardware/software solution.
(...)iXtreme LT+ firmware is good, but it will never be as safe as the xK3y and we've seen such a scenario once in the past and that is not going to change, no matter what somebody tells you, the logic is on the side of the drive emulators and this logic lies inside the CPUs of the ODDEs.
The xK3y can be perfectly adjusted to the drive and can represent a real drive without problems.
Of course there is no guarantee for a 100% secure Xbox Live solution, but an optical disc drive emulator gives you more adaptability without the restrictions of a 256 KB flashmemory."
modcontrol.com


Add-on Features

WLAN (requires Wifi Dongle 20-30): You control the xK3y via a web browser or a an iPhone or Andorid app or whatever people code and share.
In future you will be able to boot games in Samba Networks

Game Ripping (requires Xk3y Gecko ~79$):
- Make perfect rips of your X360 and XGD3 game disks in a few minutes
- Make game profiles for use with Xk3y*
- Intuitive interface for key/firmware extraction
- Seamless creation of dummy.bin file for use with Xk3y
- No CFW required, works with any stock Liteon 16D4S drive
- USB3 for optimal speed and future proofing
- FW updates to support future drives
- User friendly Windows App


Final Score:

Build Quality:
The xk3y R7-2 motherboard is nearly perfect, nothing wrong with the controller, good quality. However the usb cable you use to connect the controller to FFC dongle (I am not sure if it is responsibility of the Xk3y or the resellers) is poor quality, I describe it as a typical Chinese cable, bad connections and lack of copper (I installed 3, had small issues with them but one had to replaced for being nearly useless)
8/10

Contents:
Everything to make it work is there, assuming nowadays everyone has a laptop with a card reader or adapter. I have to give it a 10
10/10

Installation:
The pre-requesites (dump of your OFW) may be a problem for some newbs but the overall installation of Xk3y is pretty straight foward. The only "down" is the size of the board
8/10and 6 for the previous version

Usage:
It cant be more simple then that, it's very easy to use. Even the firmware updates are super easy (see= How to update Xk3yFirmware
10/10

Verdict::Highly Recommended! Takes xbox 360 modding to another level, being able to boot games from external hard drives is amazing, specially when you don't have to get up to swap games. Not to mention the team behind it keeps updating it, they beat the dea.bin in 72h
It's not cheap but definitely worth the price.

Pro:

✹ Same product for Phat and Slim
✹ Easy to install, update and use
✹ Supports NTFS, EXT4 (2 & 3 too) and Mac OS X Extended
✹ Xbox Live ready
✹ Updates are released faster than LT+ firmware

Contra:

✹ The price 75-100 (firmware flash is way more cheap)
✹ The size of motherboard (for the installation)


Product Page: Xk3y have many retailers around the World where you order them online or pick them up localy. A full list is available on the official site. http://xk3y.com/buyit

Also check: Xk3y @ 360-hq.com

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Last edited by X_Splinter on Sun Oct 27, 2013 7:36 pm; edited 1 time in total


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forahobby
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Post Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:12 am   
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Thanks for the review mate.
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bronx164
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Post Posted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:00 am   
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well i guess i wasted my money on this garbage. i tried everything to get it to work even tried to get the guys from x360key forums to help me but they ignore me so i guess ill sell this garbage to some loser on ebay and make my money back and i might as well sell the maximus lizard too.


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kennethk
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Post Posted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:08 am   
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Remember that the remote is optional. I thought it was a rip off at first until I remembered that I could update AP Firmwares without having to reopen my slim. I really hope they make it to where you can update LT some day through the box that would be so awesome.

Another thing I noticed it's easier just to leave your external plugged directly into the xk3ys dongle rather then using the Black box I might of gotten a faulty one but sometimes it does not read my HDDs.

Still I recommend this 100%


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forahobby
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Post Posted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:26 am   
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bronx164 wrote:
well i guess i wasted my money on this garbage. i tried everything to get it to work even tried to get the guys from x360key forums to help me but they ignore me so i guess ill sell this garbage to some loser on ebay and make my money back and i might as well sell the maximus lizard too.


you could have asked for some support for the xk3y here. What problems were you having? As long as you can backup your dvdrom firmware and it's compatible with the xk3y, then you should be set. Maybe you were one of the unlucky ones which got the batch which had bad SD cards. shame you didn't get it working, you would have loved it.

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X_Splinter
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Post Posted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:04 pm   
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@bronx164 Did you got your xk3y from an official resseler? Because otherwise you may got a chinese copy. With Official resellers you can return the Xk3y for a new one.

@kennethk The controller is part of the main package, it is optional not to buy it (it's different)

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forahobby
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Post Posted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 3:21 am   
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X_Splinter wrote:
@bronx164 Did you got your xk3y from an official resseler? Because otherwise you may got a chinese copy. With Official resellers you can return the Xk3y for a new one.


I know i can vouch for this. I have installed loads of xk3ys and only 1 chip had a problem, i emailed the official reseller (ozmodchips) and they shipped me out another chip in like 3 days. Now that's service.

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