The same week my laptop (now fixed) went down so did my XBox 360. Quite the annoyance. I got the “Red Ring of Death” that is now so familiar to XBox 360 owners. I though they had fixed the problem by the time I bought my Halo 3 Special Edition XBox 360 (back in 2007) but clearly they hadn’t.

For those not familiar with the red ring of death it’s when three of the four lights that are aligned in a circle on the front of the machine glow red and the thing stops working. It’s a known manufacturing defect but Microsoft kept churning them out anyway. Some plant in China wanted to save a nickel a console and we all got shafted. Or so the story goes because getting to the truth of all this has not been easy for anyone to find out. I only know what I read on the internet.

Regardless, Microsoft eventually had to extend the warranty that covers that defect to three years because consumer confidence in the XBox 360 was headed into the toilet. And that was after they said the fixed their manufacturing problem. From what I read red rings of death keep showing up anyway.

Every other game console I have ever owned has run flawlessly. And I’ve owned a lot of them. I still have my Sega Dreamcast from 1999 hooked up and it runs great. I don’t have it on often but when I do I don’t worry about it malfunctioning or breaking down. It’s built to last, like most video game consoles have been, and they should be at the price that they cost.

This past weekend I even pulled my Nintendo 64 console from 1996 out of the closet where it had been sitting for over half a decade. I hooked it up, cleaned off some old cartridges, and had 1080º Snowboarding up and running in mere minutes. It’s still a great game too. So you can see why my game console from 2007 breaking down really annoyed me. Before now such a thing wasn’t even a thought.

I had to pack up the XBox 360 and send it off to Texas to be be repaired. That was a hassle in it’s own right. You have to go to the XBox website, register the repair, print out a UPS label, box up the XBox, and get it to UPS. And you can’t box up the XBox in it’s original packaging either, they warn you, because they throw away any packaging they receive.

The UPS label part was the biggest pain. The part of the XBox website where that was allegedly taken care of wasn’t working. I filled out all the forms and when the label was supposed to appear I just got a question mark and notice that it couldn’t connect with the UPS website. It was late Friday night so I e-mailed support and went to bed.

The next morning I got an e-mail back that said they couldn’t help me with that label and I should cancel the repair, call tech support when it opened, and maybe they could help me then. Yeah, maybe. I had no desire to talk to them so I cancelled the repair and tried again. Same result. No label to print.

After that I decided to go with the “We’ll mail you a label” choice. That was another check box on the menu and it said it would take four or so days for the label to get to me. Better than never getting the label, I thought, and set that in motion.

This all happened on a Saturday morning and then Saturday afternoon I got an e-mail from UPS with a label in it from the second time I tried it online. I had already cancelled that repair request so that label was useless to me. I went back to the XBox website and check to make sure my “Mail me the label” was the only one active and the other two were cancelled. Everything looked fine.

I waited a week and never got the label in the mail. The repair status always said “Mailing label” or some such. I cancelled the repair and tried again. This time I got a label to print and all was good. I guess a week makes the difference. I still haven’t received a label in the mail by the way.

And now came the UPS problems. I never ship things through UPS so I wasn’t sure where a drop point was near me. I decided to try and use the UPS website to get a pick up but that was a failure. There was no place to indicate it was a prepaid package. I needed a check or someone’s UPS account number in order to schedule a pick up. It was a bit baffling. A couple of days later I finally got the chance to track down a local checkpoint and dropped off my package. It all seemed so easy in the end.

It’s a week later and the XBox website still hasn’t indicated it has my XBox. The website states that I should have it back in two to three weeks but I think that blizzard may have slowed it down. That and I haven’t seen much to fill me with confidence before now.

The irony is that I hardly play any video games on my Xbox 360. I mostly use it for streaming video from my computer. That’s why I miss it most. It connects with my computer over my network and any videos I have on my computer I can play on my TV via the Xbox.

Without the XBox I have been using my DVD player. What’s cool about the player is that it reads digital files off of a hard drive or SD card. I can’t network it with my computer but I can copy the files over to an SD card. It’s kind of neat playing video on my TV off of the same card that goes into my camera. How futuristic.

All in all I want my XBox up and running again. I’d like to stream things again. Plus I still want to find a good game to play on it. We’ll see if that happens anytime soon.