Microsoft's Xbox 360 will be available in two versions costing $300 and $400 when it is launched later this year, the company said Wednesday. In Europe it will cost €300 and €400 respectively, and in the UK will cost £210 and £280 respectively.

The announcement, which was made at the Games Convention event in Leipzig, Germany, fills in one of the last and most important pieces of information about the console.

Capable of high-definition video, the Xbox 360 is considerably more powerful than any gaming console available at present. At a recent event in Tokyo the company showed previews of several Xbox 360 games and all featured stunning graphics that bring a new level of realism to computer gaming.

At the heart of the console will be a three-core Power PC chip custom-produced for the console by IBM and a graphics chip from ATI. It also has a 12X dual-layer DVD-ROM drive and the more expensive version includes a 20GB hard-disk drive, wireless controller, headset, ethernet cable and wireless remote control.

All of the accessories included in the pricier package, dubbed the premium edition, will also be available as individual add-ons to the basic system.

With the major specifications and the price set, the only other big announcement awaited from Microsoft is the actual launch date. It's promised to put the Xbox 360 on sale in North America, Europe and Japan before the end of this year. Japanese pricing details will be announced at the Tokyo Game Show next month.

That launch schedule should put the console in the shops several months before Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. launches its PlayStation 3 console. The PlayStation 3 has an equally impressive specification sheet that includes an eight-core processor that boasts a total performance of 218G FLOPS (floating point operations per second) -- 35 times the performance of the PlayStation 2.

Combined with an Nvidia graphics system the Sony console should pack about double the power of the Xbox 360, although how much of that can be translated into a better gaming experience will depend on the game programmers.

Moving towards launch, earlier Wednesday Microsoft announced it has lined up three companies to manufacture the console. They are Singapore's Flextronics International and Taiwan's Wistron, both of which produce the current-generation Xbox console, and Canada's Celestica. All three companies will produce the Xbox 360 at their respective factories in China, said Microsoft.