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Rumor: Xbox 360's defect rate was as high as 68%

According to VentureBeat's own Dean Takahashi and his numerous insider sources, 68% of all the early manufactured Xbox 360 consoles were defective and Microsoft knew it. Takahashi does mention that it's common industry knowledge that "early yields on electronic goods are almost always lousy", but in the case of the 360, the problem was never fixed and production of the defective consoles went as planned. Because, you know, Microsoft had launch plans to stick to.

Again, this is all rumor seeing that Microsoft would never admit to such knowledge or such high defective rate numbers, but let's say they knew that 68% of all their consoles had a potential for failure. If so, shame on them, but we think they learned their lesson.

[Via Eurogamer]

Opus-model 360s begining to flow?

Thanks to a tipster in our last post, we've now heard our first real world tale of the previously rumored "Zombie Repaired" 360, code named Opus. The Opus "model" is for those who have had their 360's red ring and have sent them off to Microsoft for repair. In an effort to use (instead of toss) the older Xenon motherboards, Microsoft is basically upgrading repaired 360's with the Falcon model chips (65nm CPU, 90nm GPU) and one of the older motherboards that doesn't have have HDMI, effectively creating a zombie 360 that cannot be purchased in stores.

According to a specific poster over at GameTrailers, when a repaired RROD is now returned to its owner it includes a slip of paper marked "OPUS" as well as a new power supply. So if you've recently had a 360 red ring, keep an eye out for that little slip of paper when it returns, as it basically says that your 360 is now of the undead, and thus is quite unlikely to ever die again.

Rumor: MS's chip design team caused RROD fiasco

This week, EETimes.com posted an interesting article regarding what they believe to be the truth behind the Xbox 360's RROD problems which led to last year's 360 "recall". And they're firmly placing all the blame on Microsoft and their attempt to save a few bucks.

Even though they formally acknowledged it with billion dollar warranty extensions, Microsoft never completely revealed what the cause of the Xbox 360's RROD hardware problems were. The reason for this, as EETimes speculates, is because MS's 360 graphics chip design team is to blame for creating a faulty chip design that was prone to overheating. This "in house" chip development is sort of a rarity, seeing that companies usually leave the design of specialized chips to an outside application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) vendor who has more experience in designing specialized chips. But that would have costed MS tens of millions of dollars, so they decided to leave it to their own, less experienced design team. A decision that could have led to the billion dollar RROD fiasco and a giant blow to the Xbox 360's overall image. If this speculation is true, we hope MS learned their lesson. Albeit the hard way.

Even more problems with MS customer service


Microsoft just can't seem to do much right on the customer support front. So much so that we're rather tired of hearing about it. This time however, the story has more than a few new wrinkles that made it insightful enough to take a second look. The story begins with a review of the whole crazy situation and in it the author remains relatively fair and calm. Then comes the fifth paragraph, and specifics about repeat failures begin to surface.

Things like the fact that the 3-year warranty won't extend to any problem other than the RROD for any replacement console that you are sent by Microsoft. Things like the fact that if Microsoft sends you a replacement console that does not function, you're then stuck with the original 1-year warranty that came with your first 360. Basically, if your 360 RROD'd between 366 and 1095 days after purchase (just over one year to three years) then Microsoft will send you a replacement console. But if that one has something wrong with it other than the RROD, then it'll cost you $100 to send it back to Microsoft to get it fixed. Remember kids, it's wrong to screw people over if you're not a multinational corporation.

Report cites 10% of all 360 failures due to RROD

Earlier this month, we mentioned that the total Xbox 360 failure rate was found to be somewhere around 16% and now new details from warranty testing firm SquareTrade is telling us just how many were the result of the dreaded RROD.

SquareTrade released a report today detailing their warranty tests and out of the 16% failed 360 total, roughly 10% of them were due to RROD general hardware failures. The other 6% were attributed to things like disc read errors, hard drive freezes and disc tray malfunctions all of which would not be covered under Micrsoft's extended warranty. SquareTrade also mentioned that due to the Elite and Core test subjects not having enough warranty claims, they removed them from their statistical analysis and based their numbers on the more problematic Pro SKUs.

We're not certain if this is good or bad news seeing that SquareTrade still found 16% of all Xbox 360s to be problematic, it's just only 10% of them red ring. Nothing to get excited over, it's still way too high of a failure rate and way too many headaches to deal with. Fly Falcon fly and send us our RROD relief!

Xbox 360 red rings on GDC show floor


Now in the news of hilarity. In the XNA area of Microsoft's GDC '08 booth Blip.tv caught one of the playable consoles had suffered from the red ring of death. We suppose it fell into that 16th percentile. It's not as embarrassing as it sound though. The room was only filled with game developers, press and executives all armed with cameras and the internets to blog the occurrence. Oh wait. Yeah, that's not good.

Rumor: Two new Xbox 360 models in production


The blogger who famously broke the news that Bungie was parting ways from Microsoft has tipped us off to yet another internal MS situation. 8Bit Joystick is reporting that Microsoft is working on two new motherboards for the Xbox 360 to combat the persistent, but apparently dwindling, failure rates of our favorite console. Fifth and sixth generation Xbox 360's are being developed in Redmond codenamed Opus and Valhalla, respectively.

In October 2007, Joystiq reported that the third generation Xbox 360, codename Jasper, was being developed for an August 2008 launch to replace the current Falcon models. The Opus is described as the "zombie Xbox 360 killer," a mishmash of working parts from current red-ringed first generation Xbox 360's (codenamed Xenon) that includes a 90nm GPU and a 65nm CPU fitted onto a Falcon motherboard squeezed into the original Xenon case, which means this console would lack the new HDMI port. This replace-repair scenario was designed to rid Microsoft of the "millions of dead Xenon's" they currently have in stock according to the post by Jake Metcalf at 8Bit Joystick. Due to its refurbished nature, the Opus will never be available at retail and will only be used as replacement units for replacement during RRoD situations.

Continue reading Rumor: Two new Xbox 360 models in production

360's failure rate now pegged at 16 percent

It's no secret that early Xbox 360 hardware breaks and breaks often. So much so that last Summer, Microsoft had to pony up a few billions to extend the 360's warranty just to make consumers happy. Now, with new failure estimates hitting the news-wire, we learn how bad it (potentially) was.

A recent report coming from electronics warranty analyst SquareTrade has estimated that 16.4% of all Xbox 360 consoles has a hardware defect. A huge number when compared to the estimated 3% failure rate of both the PS3 and Wii. The estimate was calculated from a sampling of 1000 consoles as SquareTrade reports that overheating problems were the main cause of hardware failures. They also expect the failure rates to climb over time as more and more 360 owners encounter the eventual effects of overheated consoles. The bright side at the ends of this gloomy, monochrome rainbow is the fact that 16.4% is a lot less than the once rumored 30% failure rate. So, that's kind of good. We guess that's the best job we can do at putting a "good news spin" on this.

Red Ring of Death? Blame Krusty the Clown


Wow. It's more or less the common assumption that Microsoft skimped a bit on product testing before unleashing the Xbox 360 on the world. Anyone whose experienced the dreaded Red Ring of Death will tell you that. We have to admit though, we never realized that Microsoft had skimped this much. It seems Microsoft could have done a little more research before appointing their QA lead. See what we mean after the break.

Warning: it's suggested that only those with a sense of humor proceed past this point.

Continue reading Red Ring of Death? Blame Krusty the Clown

Need a new 360? Email Bill Gates

Let's face it, the Xbox 360 is hardly the most reliable console on the block. Seemingly destroyed by so much as a stiff breeze, older models weren't exactly made to last. Thus, 360 owners everywhere are intimately familiar with the replacement process that begins with a call to Xbox customer service. The Consumerist is reporting a new twist on that process: emailing Bill Gates directly. When the 360 originally launched, a Consumerist reader named Jon spent weeks dealing with Microsoft customer service before finally being handed to the escalation department which finally fixed his problem. Two years later (i.e now) Jon is experiencing 360 problems again. However, instead of calling customer service, Jon dug up Bill Gates' email address and wrote him an email. Within a day he was called by the escalation department and informed that his new console had been shipped.

We'd like to know exactly what Jon's problem was though. After all, Microsoft replaces Red Ring of Death consoles with no questions asked these days. Still, Jon's story is impressive, but it would have be even more impressive if he had gotten Bill to throw in a free Surface.

Rumor: the real reason for the RROD revealed


You may recall when Bungie leaving Microsoft was only a rumor. You may also recall most of the internet calling the source of this rumor as crazy. You may also also recall that the source was soon vindicated while the rest of the internet (including us) were made to look like gibbering idiots. All of this recalling is being done in order to reveal the following: the same site -- 8Bit Joystick -- is now reporting that an inside source at Microsoft has uncovered the ultimate reason behind the Xbox 360's egregiously high failure rate.

The truth behind the Red Ring of Death, says the anonymous source, is that Microsoft rushed the Xbox 360 in order to beat Sony's Playstation 3 to market. This ambition led to lackluster quality assurance and not nearly enough product testing, and the result -- as many 360 gamers will tell you - was disastrous. Furthermore, the source notes that there is no single culprit for failures, but rather a group of faults that can lead to an RROD. Whether it be substandard heat sinks, bad solder joints, or even bad chips, a myriad of issues can lead to hardware failure.

Is it all true? It's certainly not out of the question that MS may have rushed the 360 in order to beat Sony. After all, even with the 360's very real hardware issues, it currently enjoys a healthy lead over the Playstation 3. One thing we can be relatively sure of: Microsoft isn't about to confirm the veracity of the interview either way.

[Via Joystiq]

MS committed to 360 as "most reliable" console


Speaking to the BBC, Microsoft's now retired golden boy Bill Gates had some interesting things to say about the Xbox 360. Addressing concerns about the Xbox 360's much publicized reliability problems, Gates admitted that the console has had its share of problems. "We certainly had to apologize to our users about a number of boxes that had to be replaced," said Gates, referring to the costly warranty extension that was enacted in July of 2007. He further notes that Microsoft has received positive feedback about Xbox service in the wake of its problems. He concludes by saying, "we've got incredible reliability on the new work that we've done, and so our commitment is that it will be the most reliable video game box out there." Considering a fellow blogger in the Joystiq network recently got the Red Ring of Death on a replacement 360 only one week after he had received it, we'd say Microsoft has a ways to go before making good on that commitment.

Got the Red Ring of Death? Have a condolence card


The Red Ring of Death may not be making as many headlines as it used to, but that doesn't mean it's not still out there, lurking in the shadows, and waiting to strike down your beloved 360. In the not terribly unlikely even that this should happen to someone that you know, you might think about sending them one of these condolence cards. Handcrafted by Etsy user bsangel, the cards feature a red ring formed by glued on crystals on the front. The inside contains a simple message with a sneaky play on the word "console."

You'd better hurry though, there's only one left at bsangel's store as of this writing. Then again, you could probably make your own without much effort at all. Just make sure whoever you give it to has a sense of humor.

[Thanks, Paul Strauss. Via Joystiq]

Red Ring of Death T-shirt


Anyone who has witnessed the dreaded Red Ring of Death can tell you, seeing it first hand is a chilling sight. At first you smirk and chuckle with disbelief. "Just a hiccup," you say to yourself, "I'll power it off and on and it'll be fine." Once you see the wretched thing for a second time, it all sinks in. Well, guess what? Now you can commemorate that memory with the Red Ring of Death T-shirt from SplitReason. Taking a cue from 2001, the shirt features a particularly malicious (and smooth-voiced) Ring of Death. It's made of 100% cotton and it's pre-shrunk, so it should keep you from overheating (ba dum bum).

A word to the wise, if you're considering getting this for a friend who received the Ring, you might want to wait until after they get their 360 back.

[Via Joystiq]

Red Ring Chronicles Pt 2: the Coffin


And so, the Red Ring Chronicles continue with that fateful second step: the coffin. Having called Microsoft customer support last Wednesday (Aug. 1), the coffin was on my doorstep on Monday (Aug. 6), three business days after I called, which seems pretty standard. After hearing so much about 360 coffins, I had imagined a more specialized container (specifically, something that looked a little more like this). Instead, I got a cardboard box, some heavy duty packing foam, a plastic bag, and some instructions. After snickering at the morbidly funny picture on the plastic bag, I proceeded to package the once proud beast. If you've never returned an Xbox, you should know that all Microsoft wants is your Xbox. No hard drive, cables, or anything like that.

Continue reading Red Ring Chronicles Pt 2: the Coffin

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