The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, June 14, 2004

It appears I've run into a personal mechanical-breakdown spiral to start off my weeks.

Last week, my car decided not to start, causing me some inconvenience for a couple of days (thankfully, it was an easily-replacable battery, dead because, ahem, some idiot left the headlights on overnight). For an encore, late last night I fired up my Xbox to play a game, played for about 10 minutes, then watched as the screen started garbling up and, eventually, go blank. Several re-starts, and a call to Xbox technical support, revealed that the thing is broken, and needs to be sent in for service. That will run about $100, more if they discover anything out of the ordinary.

For some reason, I wasn't particularly cheesed off over this last night, just before bedtime; but as I mulled it over this morning, I've gotten increasingly pissed off over it.

I bought this Xbox just over a year and a half ago, so I'm feeling somewhat ripped off over such a short shelf life (although truthfully, it's felt like I've had the thing for a lot longer, somehow). By comparison, my ancient Atari 2600, purchased over 20 years ago, still works to this day--there's progress for you! (Yes, I realize it's a somewhat apples-to-oranges matchup, with the Xbox having about a million more moving parts in it than the 2600; I'm indignant anyway.)

I didn't come even close to pushing this Xbox to its limits: I've gone a couple of weeks at a time without even turning the damned thing on! How long it would have lasted had I been one of those hardcore eight-hour-a-day gamers--a month? At least then, it would have been covered by the warranty...

Normally, I could make do without having a working videogame machine in the house. The wrinkle here is that the Xbox doubles as my DVD player, so this one breakdown takes away two of my home entertainment options. And at the most inopportune time, too: The start of summer, when there's no real television worth watching (hockey season's over, so there goes 50 percent of my viewing pleasure right there), and so I'd expected to spend at least a couple of evenings per week watching movies on disc. Now, I've got my modest DVD library, and my VCR--not a winning combination.

Anyway, I'm considering my next move. I'll be searching online tonight for repair/hack options for disfunctional Xboxes, and seeing if I can find an cheaper/quicker alternative to M$'s repair service. I'm wondering if buying a new one wouldn't be more cost-effective--but then, I believe the next version of this machine ("Xbox 2" or "Xbox Next") is coming out in the next year, so I don't want to get ripped off again by paying full price for a system that will soon be obsolete. Big pain the ass. We'll see...