Thursday, December 6, 2007

Microsoft and the xbox 360 fiasco

The xbox 360 was to be Microsoft's crowning moment for the next generation video game console. Nintendo and Sony were both ahead of the original xbox in sales and popularity. The original xbox was Microsoft's first entry into the video game arena which was dominated by Nintendo in the early days and then by Sony and the playstation line. The xbox required a lot of money to be properly promoted and it is often said that xbox loses money on every console sold. Their aim is to recuperate through accessories and games.

The next generation of xbox is the xbox 360. it claims to have a better processor, better features, better graphics and overall a better gaming experience than the competition. Public opinion is still divided, and cannot be used to help your buying decision. There are loyal sony fans and they remain loyal no matter what Microsoft releases.

The release for the xbox 360 was perfect, as the competition was retooling for their 3rd generation releases; the Nintendo Wii, and the Sony PlayStation 3. Microsoft was all alone, and was able to release the xbox 360 just before the Christmas shopping season.

There was incredible demand and very short supply. The perfect way to manufacture a shopping frenzy. Retailers were open late, and the lineups were massive. Eventually, about 6 months later - everyone was able to get an xbox 360.

There remains one huge problem - product quality. Microsoft pressured their suppliers and cotntracted manufacturer to product millions of units to meet demand. Not all xbox 360's are created equal and soon critical manufacturing flaws emerged.

The xbox 360 is notorious for what is called the "red rings", "3 rings of death", or the "3 red ring" problem. Essentially, the motherboard overheats from normal usage, and the graphics processor experiences intermittent contact with the circuit board. The constant heating and cooling reduces the solder integrity.

The end result is a xbox 360 that boots up, momentarily, then flashes the 3 red rings. A very expensive paperweight.

The solution is to contact microsoft for warranty service, however initially the xbox 360 had a 90 day warranty. Most of these problems occur after a 90 day period.

The public persisted and proved to microsoft that the warranty was inferior to the competition, so Microsoft announced a full one year warranty, and made it retroactive. Very nice, and a responsible thing to do.

Still, it was not enough. many xbox 360 owners had already felt that they had no recourse to warranty support from microsoft, so they took it upon themselves to fix the problem with alternative solutions. This meant that you had to open your xbox 360 and perform a series of steps and modifications.

The minute you open the xbox 360 chassis, you have voided your warranty. THEN the news of the extended warranty is announced, leaving millions of xbox 360 owners with an opened unit, with no warranty.

Videos from youtube showing inexpensive fixes have surfaced everywhere. Some fixes include purposely overheating the xbox360 by wrapping it in a towel and letting it run. The intention being to re-melt any questionable solder connections.

Some youtube videos have the owners literally hitting their unit to shift or jar a loose component back into making a good solder and motherboard connection.

Finally, the x-clamp product is released. The flaw itself with the xbox360 overheating is the heatsink mounting to the motherboard. The metal clamps used to pull the heatsink against the graphics processor does not provide proper pressure on the heatsink to properly cool the processor. With the replacement of the factory clamps, the problem can be rectified.

The process is explained in a number of ebooks and websites.

The solution is fairly simple, however in the long run, completely unfair to those that are no longer entitled to a warranty repair (yours truly included)

For the sake of shameless promotion, I have included a link to one of the repair guides.