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The Xbox 360 has been the source of some controversy since its release. Microsoft used their funds as a house-hold name in operating systems, to make sure they can compete in the games console market, much to the dismay of many.

With many exclusive titles, new innovations on the way, and the infamous ‘red ring of death’ (RROD),  join me as I look at what has happened with their journey inside the industry and what the future holds.

Breaking into the console market is a very tough job. In the past, we have seen many fail to stand the test of time and stay as a long term competitor. Companies such as Sega used to be huge in the hardware race, however, they decided to stop making consoles as of 31st of September 2001.

On the other side, companies such as Panasonic failed to make a mark with their hardware, the M2. The original was designed by 3DO and purchased by Panasonic; it never made it to production and was cancelled in 1997. This is because Panasonic was not prepared to fight directly against Sony. The technology of the M2 lived on in 1998 with the FZ-21 and FZ-35, these were multi-media players but were not aimed at the home market, moving the technology further away from gaming.

Behind the Box

Microsoft is currently the youngest competitor. The original Xbox was first released in November 2001 and sold 25 million units in its life. Though this is quite an achievement for a first entry into the market, it suffered a great deal from lack of exposure in comparison to its rival, the Playstation 2. Sony outnumbered it five to one, selling a massive 138 million units in the nine years since release. (sales figure quoted on September 1st 2009)

The Xbox had a lifespan of around four and a half years. This is in comparison to Playstation 2, which had a life of six years before the release of  the next generation. Many players who had the Xbox felt they had been burned by this shorter life cycle; the console was discontinued in North America and Europe in November 2006, just 1 year after the release of the 360.

Microsoft's debut to the console market

Microsoft's debut to the console market

Rage against the machine

Moving forward a generation, many people who have had problems with their 360 have said it is due to the console overheating. Usually, when players upgrade, they will place the new console where the old one used to reside. This does not work for the current generation however, as the 360 is quite sleek and will be prone to overheating in the wrong places. These consoles need a good amount of space to breathe, more so as the main fans for them are at the back of the unit.

One of Microsoft’s claims for the reason behind why a substantial number of consoles were breaking is a fault with surge protectors. However, I have found that the issues with the RROD could be down to multiple problems.

The most reliable reason behind the RROD is a fault with the soldering. There are many videos on the internet that can show you how to fix the issue, simply by mending the joints where the CPU or GPU has worked itself loose. If you are still under warranty, I thoroughly suggest you do this through Microsoft’s support service. The failure rate for the 360 has been shown as 54%, so if you have not already, you are likely to experience the customer service.

You can minimize the issues with an overheating Xbox using these simple tips.

1) Place your console in a place where it can blow heat out into the open, placing it against the wall is no good.
2) Keep the area around your Xbox clean, dust can get clogged up in the fans, you will break the warranty if you try to open the console to clean them yourselves. So it is best just to keep the area clean.
3) Try to take breaks when using the unit, nothing will cool it down better than switching it off.

It’s not all doom and gloom

There is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel.  Although the hardware has experienced issues, Microsoft responded with very good customer service, which I have experienced twice. If your console gets three red lights, also known as RROD, they will repair it for free. The repair process for us as customers is very simple. You call Microsoft’s support line and listen to an automated voice, once you are through to the right section you talk to a representative.

This person will then ask you for the serial number on the console, what is wrong with it and your name. After establishing the issue they will tell you to package your Xbox without the hard drive in a plain brown box, which will be collected by a parcel company. They will proceed to repair the console and send it back to you within two weeks. Overall, the process is quite pleasant for the customer.

In addition, as good faith to the customer, the base the warranty for the “3 red lights” issue was extended to 3 years. This has helped the Xbox community in not having to pay extra cash for repairs as myself, friends and family have all had our consoles experience this at around 1 and a half years after purchase.

New kids on the block

The power and capability of hardware is always on the rise. The short life cycle of the original Xbox is not going to be repeated. One of the new innovations that Microsoft are releasing is Project Natal. This is a sensor that takes motion gaming to new heights and will defiantly increase the market power of the Xbox as well as its life. There is a great video for Project Natal (here).

Hardware super-geeks like myself are always interested in what is next, so I looked into the future of the Xbox brand. One of the suggested titles for the next in line is the Xbox 720. Personally, I am hoping Microsoft will have more taste than to just start doubling up degrees of rotation; I dread the day we see the Xbox 1440. The title that makes more sense to me, also one I am more fond of, is the Xbox Pulse. Although there is no official statement, the suggested date for this console is 2011 or 2012; this would leave players with a comfortable six or seven year life cycle for their current unit.

Xball

The new Xbox is here.... the Xball? (a fake concept)

If anyone is interested in more information about the Xbox Pulse, you can use the links I provide below. At the moment, there is mostly fake designs, with no evidence of an actual concept from Microsoft. If you feel like laughing for a while, I thoroughly suggest you check out some of the other ludicrous fake designs.

Spacey

All things strange

  1. Consoles have always seem to go through iterations of hardware. But the RROD is definitely one of the biggest disappointments in console history.

    Its competitor, PS3, is gracing many with the yellow light of death. My 60GB launch PS3 is going strong! But I will admit, I constantly back up all my save files to USB just in case.

    Great article. Microsoft definitely did a great job with trying to mitigate the outrage of RROD. However, it took them WAY too long to take responsibility for these problems. Cost them a ton of $$ with moving to a 3 yr warranty coverage.

    Between RROD and YLOD I really think I am going to hold off a year or two for future next-gen consoles.

    • avatar Vera

      playstation 3 will offer the most complete gaenmig catalogue. it has the biggest backers in gaming, the best hardware out there, and for people like me that would rather have the wii only because of the titles and loyalty to nintendo, we secretly wish nintendo had all the fuctions of the playstation. if you have 599 and want to own it and have the newest best games, then get the playstation. computers still out perform these systems, but they cannot manipulate the gaming engine unless they are really high end. playstation with revolutionize gaming and we will see some amazing stuff for the next 2 years, or however fast they can pump another one out.

  2. I think YLOD has been exaggerated by many, especially pro microsoft outlets and xbox fanboys on forums. My Launch PS3 is fine, my brothers is fine, my best friend’s is fineand 2 of my friends from uni have had no problem. 4 out of 5 of my friends with 360s have had RROD.

    What the 360 showed is that a strong games line up will sell a product in certain regions regardless of hardware quality. The Japanese were never happy with it, but Americans were, perhaps there was some amount of patriotic emotion involved in sticking with the american product?

  3. I bought my 360 at midnight release (I didn’t wait, it was an opportunist purchase as I did a midnight shop), and it broke outside of the 3-year warranty extension. I wrote an outraged letter to Microsoft, telling them it was through no misuse that I got the RROD (E74 edition) but from shoddy manufacture. I said it was unfair that I should pay anything to repair their mistake and that I felt that I was being punished for being a diligent fan and purchasing my console on release (thus paying more for it anyway). Anyhow, they sent me the postage forms, I sent the bugger off and a brand spanker landed on my doormat a week or so later. Result! Goes to show that with a little persuasion…

  4. avatar Anonymous

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    • avatar Blanca

      Yes, most big chain video rental paelcs that also rent games usually have them. It costs around $30/weekend, and you may have to give a deposet if you don’t have a credit card. (For example you give them $100 deposit, and they give it back to you when you return the console)

  5. avatar Bronx

    when the xbox 360 and the ps3 were released both copmany’s said that they would like them to last at least 10 years,so if that’s true then we should see new systems some time around 2015 or latter.i don’t think they actually need to make a new system for either of them because they can just keep updating every thing online.i think they could probably wait until 2020 before releasing completely new consoles.hope this helps.have fun gaming.

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