Entertainment; article five, page eleven
Xbox 360 hard to come by, but worth it
Approximately 400,000 Xbox 360s have been sold in the U.S since its launch Nov. 22. Though the number is staggering, it could have sold more had there not been unit shortages. Many stores had such a small shipment of the system that they couldn't fill out their pre-orders. Walk-in customers are unlikely to find the next-gen console this side of the New Year.
The shortages are likely due to the world-wide launch. On Dec. 2 the Xbox 360 made its debut in Europe, selling out its 300,000 units. Japan will see the system on Dec. 10.
Some people who bought an Xbox 360 have already sold it on eBay. Within the first 12 hours of the system's launch, 1,800 had been resold with an average price of $660, quite a markup from the $399 that was paid for the premium bundle.
Most prices range between $500 and $800, depending upon whether the unit is core or premium and upon the number of accessories and games that accompany it. One person believes his Xbox 360 will sell for $11 million.
Other people are busy taking it apart and modifying it. A group called Free60 Project is aiming to port Linux and Darwin on the Xbox 360, both of which are open source operating systems. Other creative minds have been painting faceplates and adding hard drives.
Those that decided to keep the system as it was were given a choice of 18 games at the launch, with estimates of 100 games available by the end of 2006. The games were limited in genres, with more than half being either shooter or sports games. There is also the Xbox Live Arcade, offering modified versions of retro coin-op games like "Joust" and "Gauntlet."
The Xbox 360 is backwards compatible, but only selectively, requiring a software emulator for each game. As of now there are more than 200 games that are backwards compatible. That's not to say that those games are the only games that ever will be backwards compatible, though, as Microsoft is continually updating the list.
The games will also be able to take on the high definition (HD) capabilities, but high-end Xbox games such as "Halo 2," with the exception of smoother edges, don't look much different when played in HD.
Also keep in mind that HD graphics are only available on HD televisions. Gamers with standard-definition televisions will miss out on the main essence that the Xbox 360 revolves around.
Some gamers have experienced several technical problems with the new system. The most common problem is the hard drive overheating, which causes the console to crash. Some suggestions to prevent this problem are keeping the Xbox 360 in an open environment (not in a cabinet or on a shelf) or finding a way to lift the power supply off the ground.
Another common complaint is scratched disks, which are caused by the laser housing in the console. To prevent this, keep the Xbox 360 orientated horizontally and try not to bump it while playing games or DVDs.
Microsoft's response to the hardware problems is slightly less than ideal. The only game they will replace if a disk is scratched is "Perfect Dark Zero," even if it was not the game that was scratched.
As for other hardware problems, they advise to call the service center or visit the official Web site for more information.
If problems can't be fixed they have offered to pay for shipping the console to a repair center.
The good news is that these problems only reflect a small percentage of Xbox 360s. The majority of gamers are having no problems and are generally enjoying the system.
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