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Xbox 360 'Most Unreliable' Gaming Console

One in four Microsoft Xbox 360 owners reports a system failure within the first two years, study says.

The Microsoft Xbox 360 is the most unreliable video-game console with a failure rate that's eight times more than the Nintendo Wii and more than twice the Sony PlayStation 3, a study shows.

After the first two years of ownership, 23.7% of Xbox 360 owners reported a system failure, compared with 2.7% of Wii owners and 10% of PS3 owners, according to the latest SquareTrade study. The most common types of problems with the PS3 and Xbox 360 were disc read errors and output issues, while the Wii had more power and remote control problems that the other systems.

The biggest reported failure for the Xbox 360 was the E74 error dubbed the "red ring of death" by users. Microsoft in April extended a special Xbox 360 warranty program to cover the failure that is associated with three flashing red lights on the console. The flaw causes the gaming console to lock up and display the inscrutable error message "E74."

If the "red ring of death" is excluded from Xbox 360 failures, then the console's failure is cut by more than half to 11.7%. "If the RROD issue were resolved, we would anticipate future Xbox 360's to be only slightly less reliable than the PS3," the report said.

SquareTrade, launched in 1999, is an independent warranty provider. The company examined customer-reported failure data on more than 16,000 consoles in putting together the latest report.

The video-game industry as a whole has been under stress in the economic recession. Overall sales fell 29% in July from the same month a year ago and are down 14% for the year so far, according to The NPD Group.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on Google's upcoming Chrome OS. Download the report here (registration required).

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