$179.99 for this!? Are you kidding me!?
It's our way or the highway. Pay up or stick with 20GB.

Microsoft has listened to the negative response that it has gotten from the press and gamers regarding its 120GB external hard drive for the Xbox 360. The company contends that the price is justified and that consumers shouldn't compare the price of the 120GB Xbox 360 hard drive to a standalone 120GB 2.5" notebook hard drive.

"What we have done is release a smaller laptop size drive. If you compare what we are offering with a real plug-and-play drive the closest thing would be to take a 120 gig self-powered external PC drive," said Microsoft's Aaron Greenberg. "In that case we are seeing those retail at anywhere from $160 to $200 for comparable laptop sized external hard drives"

I decided to take Greenberg up on that offer and do a quick search over at Newegg for 2.5" 120GB 5400RPM USB 2.0 hard drives. In less than a minute, I found 4 units that were less than $100 before any rebates were even taken into consideration. The cheapest was the Aluratek AHDUB250120 which rings up at $79.99 after a $10 mail-in rebate.

Now I know what some of you may be thinking. "That's some no name company, no wonder it's so cheap." Right you may be, but not far off the Aluratek's price is a Seagate unit for $93.99 and a Western Digital Passport for $94.99.

So at the most we're looking at around an $80 to $100 price differential between a credible USB 2.0 hard drive and Microsoft's 120GB Xbox 360 hard drive. So what gives with the price difference?

"I know it sounds expensive to a lot of consumers but we are comparable to those types of drives and also we have to go through a lot more testing and security," Greenberg continued. "When we buy from suppliers we require a lot more spec reports and tests because that drive has to be able to perform at specific speeds all the time in order to support our environment and our gameplay experiences. Those are not the same specs that they are able to deliver to with off-the-shelf drives."

Is the security and testing worth $80 to $100? In my opinion, it’s probably not. But it's not like we have a choice. Microsoft has locked down the Xbox 360 so tightly in comparison to Sony's relatively open PS3 that it's their way or the highway. You're either forced to buy their expensive hard drive if you need the extra space or hack your existing enclosure and void your warranty.

Note to Microsoft: Just give us the option to use external USB hard drives and all we be forgiven.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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