This week's column written by Star Online staff member Chris Pittman.
When the Xbox breaks.
The Xbox 360 is filled to the brim with features. An unparalleled software lineup plus a robust online service with more than 7 million users worldwide assures that you will never have a shortage of games to play or gamers to play with.
Until the Xbox breaks, that is.
The Xbox 360 will go down in history as one of the most disappointing video game hardware creations of all time. An overheating problem — dubbed the "Red Ring of Death" because of the three red rings that appear when it malfunctions — has killed many 360 units since the console's release in November 2005.
Several video-game retailers, such as Gamestop, have reported a failure rate of one out of three consoles. A 33 percent failure rate on a gaming machine in this day and age is embarrassing. Neither the Wii nor the PlayStation 3 have reported this high a rate of failure.
My personal experience with the 360? Pathetic.
It all began in December 2006 when I purchased my console. Everything worked flawlessly until June, when I was greeted with the three red flashes of failure.
At this point I was angry but not surprised. The outcries on Internet message boards, combined with problems my friends were facing, all but guaranteed that it would happen to me. I boxed up my defective Xbox and returned it to Gamestop.
The second unit I received was refurbished (which basically means "already broken once before" in retail language.) This unit held up for seven months before biting the dust.
After the second hardware failure, I was forced to contact Microsoft since I did not opt for the warranty at Gamestop. Ironically, the company told me that it stopped offering replacement plans on 360s due to the sheer amount of money they were losing on each exchange.
Microsoft sent me a cardboard box several weeks later, and I packaged the console up and sent it off. A month passed and I received another refurbished unit that was different from the one I sent. I thought nothing of it, and threw in a game to test it out.
I was met with a horrible grinding noise so loud it could wake the neighbors. I put in another game and the console couldn't read it. The disc was "unplayable," it said. This continues on with almost every other game I try.
I am currently waiting for another box so I can ship my Xbox to Microsoft.
This will be my fourth unit, but I've heard of people who are on their sixth or seventh. That boggles my mind. Personally, I am one more defective machine away from ending my hurtful relationship with the Xbox 360. I was excited about the future of this system. But not now.
The next time I'm in the market for a next generation system, I'll look at buying a PS3 or a Wii. They may not have the strongest lineups of games yet, but one day they will.
One thing is for sure. The Xbox 360 is proving it's not worth the wait.