My Xbox 360 Review

Posted by Kirby Turner on November 30, 2005

I have had a week to play with my new Xbox 360 and overall I’m happy with the purchase. However, unless you are a hard core gamer who wants the latest hardware or there is a must have, must play now game title out there, I recommend waiting until after the holidays, maybe longer, to buy an Xbox 360. Here’s why.

Although the hardware is impressive the launch titles I have played don’t really push the hardware. In other words, I’m still waiting for a next-gen game that really shows off what the Xbox 360 can do.

PGR3 and Call of Duty 2 look great on HDTV. New York City streets in PGR3 look real and Call of Duty 2 makes you feel like you are in a movie at times. Both games look good on a standard TV but really shine on HDTV. HDTV support is one area that makes the Xbox 360 a better console than the others on the market today. But if you don’t have HDTV, games look about the same as you would expect on Xbox 1 or PS2.

One thing I do like is the new Xbox Live. The new Xbox Live combines a market place with gaming. I also like the gamer card and score. I find myself consistently comparing my score to other gamers and I’m consistently working on gaining more Xbox Live achievements.

Another impressive new feature of Xbox 360 is the media capabilities. You can play music, watch videos, view digital photos and more. The console does a good job of being a complete entertainment console. The Xbox 360 can connect to a Windows PC running Media Connection software or Media Center. Once connected you can listen to music streaming from the PC or watch a movie or even browse digital photos.

I’m excited about streaming music since I have a server of 40+ GB of MP3 that I prefer listening to. Since my Xbox 360 is connected to my sound system and it can connect to a Windows PC over my home network, I am now able to listen to my music from the server through my sound system. This of course is nothing new but the Xbox 360 makes it easy to setup.

<h2>The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly</h2>

So you have just read the good. Now time for the bad and the ugly. The bad was my first experience with the Xbox 360. As I previously mentioned in a different post I had hardware failures when I first setup the Xbox 360. The hardware failures were caused by the video card not receiving enough power to operate properly. I was on hold for what seemed like forever with Microsoft Support but eventually gave up. I searched the forums and found I was not the only one experiencing problems. In fact a lot of people were having problems.

The solution that worked for me was to wipe down the mental connectors on the power brick. Apparently there was residue on the mental pieces that prevented the console from receiving full power. There are some individuals in the forums who say this is ridiculous and that wiping down the mental connectors will not fix anything. All I can say is I have not had a hardware failure since so the solution appears to have worked for my case.

Speaking of the power brick, it’s the one part of the hardware that is a real let down. Sure the console is slimmer than its predecessor but the power brick for the Xbox 360 is huge making it a pain to carry the console to a friend’s house. The power brick even has its own built-in fan, which adds to its size. Speaking of which, the combination of the console and the power brick make for a noisy experience. Yep, the fans are loud.

The Xbox 360 is louder than all my laptops and Dell servers, firewall device, network hubs and switches, wireless access points, printer, and external USB hard drivers combined. You will not notice the fan noise during game play since the game will have its own sound and music but when the Xbox 360 is powered on and there is no music or game play in progress you can definitely here the roar of the fans. Over Thanksgiving weekend I was asked a couple of times “What was that noise?” Of course I had to say it was the Xbox 360.

And lastly the travel bag. Those who know me know I am a bag junkie. I believe having the right bag is key to travel and transporting goods. I’m not talking about a purse. I’m talking about big bags and small bags with a specific purpose. And I have a lot of them so it was only natural for me to buy the Planet 21 Xbox 360 Sling Bag.

This bag looks nice but it does have some design flaws. First of all, there should be a handle at the top of the bag. This would make it easier to carry the bag when you need to walk through say the turnstile at the subway station or throwing (not literally) the console into the car. Also the shoulder strap sucks. There is no padded shoulder rest and believe me if you are carrying the console with the heavy power brick to a friend’s house and you have a 30 minute walk you want a padded shoulder strap.

But the number one disappointment I have with the Sling Bag really isn’t the bag itself but the power brick. Yes, again with the power brick. While the Sling Bag supposedly was designed for the Xbox 360 there is not good place to store the power brick. The bag has lots of pockets and compartments which I really like. Unfortunately many of them become useless once you put the power brick in the bag. I really hope a 3rd party or Microsoft comes out with a replacement power brick in the near future.

Anyway, back to the bag. It’s a nice bag and it’s okay for carrying your Xbox 360, a couple of controllers, the power brick, and a game or two especially given the price, $50 USD. But a more expensive laptop bag might make packing away the hardware and accessories easier.

<h2>And Finally</h2>

I’m really enjoying my new Xbox 360. Games like Amped 3 and Call of Duty 2 are great launch titles, but I haven’t found a launch title that really shows off the hardware. I expect this will change in 6 to 12 months after game developers have had more time to explore the potentials of the console. The new Xbox Live is great and is the one saving grace (for the moment) for the Xbox 360 in my opinion. While I don’t think the new Xbox Live is a reason to buy a new Xbox 360 it is nice to have if you already have the console. And lastly, given the initial problems reported by many Xbox 360 owners and the lack of a kill launch title that shows off the potential of the new hardware, I believe Sony has a chance to trump the Xbox 360 with its upcoming PlayStation3.

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