“Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station! ” – The Emperor: Star Wars Return of the Jedi. Okay, now imagine if that line was actually “Now you will witness the total uselessness of this fully inoperable brick”, and that's the delightful scenario that played out before me last night.
Let me set the stage. It's a long weekend. I've got very little to do this weekend, nowhere to be (other than a couple little gatherings), and not a lot of InfoTech or personal work to get done. Sounds like a great weekend to get some Xboxin' done.
Truth is I haven't played very much lately. I got my Xbox in November, two weeks before I decided to quit my job and find a new one. I started my job the first week of December and did a lot of traveling back and forth from London to Toronto (if I had been smart during this time, I would have brought the 360 to London and hooked it up at my parents place for the couple months I was there).
We put our house on the market the first week in December, so there was some time there where I had plenty of time to play Xbox, but after about February I just got way too busy to play. Packing, moving, running about. Crazyness.
So after that long layoff, I was really looking forward to busting out the controllers and getting some game on.
Thursday night, I fired her up to recharge the controllers. The video went weird a little bit, but everything seemed to work itself out. I ended up letting it download some stuff in the background, and went to bed.
Last night I fired it up, and the video signal just died on me. I waited for a while, and it came back, but suddenly the red colour went out. Then that came back, and finally the game just died. Crappy.
This morning Kaylin and I put Viva Pinata in the console and got ready for a little Pinata growin' action…and of course the screen died on me. Then suddenly I got the fabled “red rings of death”. This is the Xbox equivalent of the “Blue Screen of Death” on a PC, except this one's usually fatal.
I restarted the Xbox (because that's what you do with Windows stuff), and it came back that way again. Restarted again, and again still dead.
Microsoft's official stance is that 3-5% of Xbox 360 consoles fail. Many sources report 30-50% failure rates. I'm here to tell you that I personally have experienced a 75% failure rate. Of the 4 people I know with 360's (who are all moderate users of them) 3 of those units have failed. That's pretty shocking.
Now I made a call to Microsoft today, and I am pretty happy with the way the phone call went. I spoke to their automated system “Max” which was all “hip and cool”, and which walked me through some troubleshooting techniques. Then I got routed through to a real person who took down my details, and told me that since I'm in Canada, they'll send me a box, I'll send my Xbox back, and I'll get a new one in about 2-3 weeks.
That's pretty cool, and I guess it gives me 2-3 weeks to really bust on some work so that I can spend some quality Xbox time when I get the system back.
In the meantime, I just may have to go buy a Wii.