Review: Xbox 360 - InformationWeek

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Review: Xbox 360

Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 features stunning video performance and awesome game play, especially on a wide-screen, high-definition TV. The many new media-playing features are pretty good, too. But don’t rush out and buy one. They’re all sold out -- for now.

If you're still wondering if you should rush out and get your hands on the Xbox 360, Microsoft's next-generation game player and media center combo, it's probably too late. When they went on sale across the country, huge numbers of rabid game freaks lined up around the corner of every electronics shop selling the device.

Little wonder, considering the device's cinematic game play and total media center capability-- and its low, $399 price. In fact, when microchip research company iSuppli did a cost breakdown on the device's components, they came to the conclusion that Microsoft was losing about $150 on each unit they sold. Or maybe the Redmond giant just got really good discounts. Either way, the game plan here is clear. By fielding a low-cost powerhouse appliance, Microsoft seeks to take the field from Sony, whose Playstation 2 currently leads, and to steal the thunder from both Sony and Nintendo, whose Playstation 3 and Revolution are due out in 2006. In fact, Microsoft hopes to sell more than five million units by the end of Q2 '06.

But there may be problems lurking below the surface of these chum-infested waters. Some gamers are reporting, and Microsoft has confirmed, that some Xbox 360 game units are causing problems. Though gadget and gamer forums have begun to report the occurrence of Xbox "black screens of death" and occasional error messages during "normal" game play. Microsoft offers 1-800-4MY-Xbox for troubleshooting. If that doesn't solve the problem, Microsoft will repair or replace the unit.

In order to get some firsthand intelligence on the unit, we went to the 36-hour Zero Hour launch party held at a "secret" location in the Mojave Desert. A location we recognized as a hanger at Palmdale Airport, site of Bert Rutan’s Spaceship One launches.

After recovering from 36 hours of mind boggling event chaos, we settled down to some serious game play and device analysis.

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