Print 112 comment(s) - last by nanogeektech.. on Mar 31 at 1:39 PM

Xbox 360 failures are on the rise since the launch of the New Xbox Experience

A known Xbox 360 hardware issue is beginning to surface in significant numbers recently based on research conducted by video game site Joystiq. Tentatively called the Xbox 360 E74 error, one of the lights on the “Ring of Lights” on the front of your Xbox 360 console flashes red and you receive the error code and message: "E74. System Error. Contact Xbox Customer Support". The symptoms involve the bottom right portion of the indicator ring repeatedly flashing on and off and lines or snow will become visible across the screen.

According to the initial Joystiq article posted on March 13, the Microsoft representative Joystiq contacted told them she wasn't familiar with the problem and that they were looking in to the issue. The E74 error is a known issue that is recognized by Microsoft and is documented on Microsoft’s own support site complete with diagrams. The support site has a last revised time stamp of March 3, 2009 as of this writing, predating the Joystiq article that broke the story.

Microsoft’s support site provides no explanation for the error other than to state, “This behavior occurs when the Xbox 360 console experiences a hardware failure.” Joystiq theorizes the E74 error is related to a hardware video problem where the ANA/HANA scaling chip on Xbox 360s equipped with HDMI functionality has come loose.

The main theory put forward that tries to explain why this particular hardware issue is being seen more frequently is the increased graphical stress caused by the introduction of the New Xbox Experience. The New Xbox Experience was launched on November 19 and provided Xbox Live users with a complete rework of the user interface.

One of the significant changes introduced by the New Xbox Experience was the removal of the blade interface. The blades allowed users to access pages of information and features quickly due to the fact they are stacked on top of each other. The new interface uses full windows to spread out the screen.

Another significant change introduced by the New Xbox Experience was the implementation of a graphical avatar system. Users are allowed to choose their avatar from a large group; each avatar is dressed differently, has a unique hair style, and skin color. Once you have chosen your avatar, you are allowed to customize it with new clothing, accessories, and hair. The stress caused by these visual changes may be what is taking many Xbox 360s to the breaking point for unlucky customers.

An interesting pattern can be seen on a Google Trends chart that shows a noticeable spike in users researching the E74 error in November 2008 right around the launch of the New Xbox Experience.

Joystiq’s analysis of survey respondents show a similar pattern of increased E74 failures starting in November of last year. A conspiracy theory making the rounds speculates Microsoft may have changed the system diagnostics test to report Red Ring of Death error as E74 instead to save money. For errors reported as E74, it would force customers to pay $100 for the repair if the error occurs later than 12 months after purchase. The E74 error is not covered under the 3-year extended warranty set in place for the Red Ring of Death malfunction. Joystiq points out that this theory is unlikely because survey respondents are still reporting Red Ring of Death errors after the launch of the New Xbox Experience.

On March 19, Joystiq posted Microsoft’s official response to the E74 issue where they stated:

E74 is a general hardware error on Xbox 360 indicated by a single red flashing light in the Xbox Ring of Light and an error message visible on the television. This error is unrelated to the three flashing red lights error and there is not a single root cause. We encourage anyone who receives this error to contact Xbox Customer support through or 1-800-4-MY-XBOX. The majority of customers who own Xbox 360 consoles continue to have a terrific experience from their first day, and continue to, day in and day out.

As pointed out by Joystiq, Microsoft’s response fails to adequately answer what causes the E74 error, if there has been an increase in incidents, and why it is not covered while the Red Ring of Death is. The evidence is mounting as Joystiq has posted an update on March 23 showing E74 errors have definitely increased since the introduction of the New Xbox Experience. It remains to be seen how long it takes Microsoft to acknowledge there is an issue and deal with in a way that satisfies their current customers. As past history shows an adequate response may take time.

Microsoft’s top game executive, Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment & Devices group, said at a dinner in July 2008 that Microsoft’s own research shows that gamers have largely forgiven the company for defective Xbox 360s. Depending on how this issue is handled current customers may not be so quick to forgive.

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RE: Microsoft needs to get out of Console business
By Sandok on 3/25/2009 11:50:55 AM , Rating: 2
Microsoft did rush the Xbox360 to the market, I totally agree but when it comes to being a GAME CONSOLE (which is what we're talking about here), it helped them edge out Sony.

Yes, IF Sony had launched their console before it might be the 360 in third place but guess what, they didn't. Microsoft weighed the pros and cons of shipping the console early and it helped them secure a better market position than Sony. IFs and BUTs don't help the actual subject and this is what I am talking about, given that they were the FIRST to enter the race, they were able to beat Sony at their own game.

And since we're talking SKUs (HDMI and whatnot), how many PS3 people post (yes they do... browse around) about buying a 80GB or a 60GB or a 40GB and trading in various different forms of the console to have REAL backwards compatibility or emulated backwards compatibilty or... none at all. Anyways, this is a tiny fraction of the market and I doubt its as big as you make it out to be.

And no, the PS3 is not cheaper and never was cheaper and never will be cheaper. Who says you NEED to buy the HDVD addon, the WiFi addon, the Cam addon, the HDD addon, the Remote addon, etc. If you want to play games, then the cheapest in between the PS3 and 360, out of the box was the 360 and always has been.

Yes, some people might want BR and such and if they did, they would buy a PS3 but those who didn't... the vaste majority... just wanted to play games. Yes it's loud, yes it's fragile and yes the hardware isn't halfway decent but what do you care more about, playing games or justifying your choice of console?

I'm not saying the PS3 is a bad console, far from it, but the Xbox is by NO WAY a bad system to play games on. Quite the opposite, otherwise millions of people wouldn't buy the system. Simple as that.

By BansheeX on 3/26/2009 1:36:14 PM , Rating: 2
And no, the PS3 is not cheaper and never was cheaper and never will be cheaper. Who says you NEED to buy the HDVD addon, the WiFi addon, the Cam addon, the HDD addon, the Remote addon, etc. If you want to play games

HDD is indeed REQUIRED to play DLC content and download tons of patches. And you forgot to mention netplay fees, which are indeed REQUIRED if you want to play games' online modes. 5 years of Live is $250, so your total cost going to be higher than the PS3 even with the Arcade model, no hard drive, no wireless, and no blu-ray. Shelf price means nothing, cost of ownership means everything, and the PS3 is simply cheaper.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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