Image courtesy Joystiq
RIP Xbox 360 (August 2, 2006 - March 22, 2007)

My Xbox 360 is dead, may it rest in peace. My faithful gaming system -- my first gaming console since my Atari 7800 when I was a kid -- is now on its way to Microsoft's repair center where it will most likely be gutted and replaced with a refurbished unit.

I had read all of the reports of the Red Ring of Death around the web and shyly told myself that it could never happen to me. I've always had good luck with electronic gadgets and, with the exception of my original iPAQ 3650 Pocket PC, I have never needed to replace anything or send it in for repair.

That lucky streak started to unravel this past Sunday. I picked up a copy of GRAW 2 from Best Buy and started playing the training mission. Once during the mission, my Xbox 360 froze with a rainbow-ish checkerboard pattern on the screen. This was quite different from the dozen or so times that my Xbox 360 has just hard locked for no apparent reason while playing games.

I restarted the console and played for another 30 minutes or so and all was well. Then this past Thursday, I was using the Media Center functionality to play some music streamed from my laptop. I was about halfway through the first song when it skipped and then stopped. I walked out of the kitchen and again saw the checkerboard pattern and a frozen Xbox 360. I turned the machine off and just forgot about it for a while.

Later that night, I was just messing around in the Dashboard looking at the latest available downloads and it locked three separate times (again with the checkerboard pattern) requiring a reboot each time. It was at that time that I decided to call Microsoft for assistance. While I was on hold, I turned it on one last time and got the Red Ring of Death.

Microsoft tells me that the turnaround time will be around five business days once they receive my defective unit at their repair center, but that's still a long time with no GRAW 2, Gears of War, College Hoops 2k7 or Worms.

And when I do get back what will most likely be a refurbished unit, how long until the ticking time bomb decides to go off again and I'm stuck with another dead console? Maybe this time it will decide to conk out when I'm past my warranty period. Or maybe I'll just go buy a PS3 and enjoy life on the dark side ...

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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