By August 11, 2008

My Xbox 360 Elite died after 358 days

My birthday present to myself last year was an Xbox 360 Elite. I wanted a 360 for awhile, especially after Catan and Carcassonne were announced for Xbox Live!, but I had heard a lot about reliability issues. After almost a year of trouble-free service, my 360 started crashing on Thursday.

Call of Duty 4 was the first culprit. I had taken fire while jumping out of a window, and died when I crashed into the ground. The screen froze, a checkerboard pattern superimposed over my crumpled body. A weird, low tone boomed from my surround sound system. I was unable to turn the system off via the controller, so I got up and pushed the 360 power button.

Everything was fine until I quit about two hours later. Starbuck came over later that evening and we played Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, and we crashed before leaving the cantina. Fuck.

I tried to diagnose the problem myself online, and found references to “checkerboarding” and the 360’s graphics processor unit. Reports indicated infrequent crashes at first, then the Red Ring of Death. I followed a few steps online and then called the 360 support line.

I spent about a half hour with a gentleman (presumably in India by his accent, although I am unsure). He was very helpful and patient. We tried some of the things I read online, and then a few other things, such as clearing the cache (go to storage device management, hit X twice, left bumper, right bumper, X twice, OK).

He chuckled at one point and said, “I’m sorry your 360 died, but your warranty expires in seven days! If it had to die, it did at a good time!” I laughed, too, and we did a few more things before throwing in the towel. He gave me a return authorization number and a prepaid UPS shipping label to the service center in Texas.

If the Xbox can’t be repaired, they’ll send a new one within 48 hours. More likely it will go through the repair process, which takes from two to three weeks, plus shipping. Since Bond’s unit died, Stilt’s two friends have each sent in their consoles for repair, along with my nephew. My nephew’s repair is still outstanding, but it took everyone else at least two weeks to get their units back.

I couldn’t wait that long, and bought a 360 Pro (20GB model) as a “hot spare.” It will migrate up to the bedroom once the Elite comes back.

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