Most helpful positive review
289 of 327 people found the following review helpful
Good system, but not perfect.
on August 28, 2007
Let me start by saying that I purchased my Xbox 360 two weeks ago from Amazon on this very page. Unlike some previous posters, I am writing about my experience on the product that this review is linked to.
I would also like to add that I am in no way biased towards any particular console. In fact, this is my first console, I strongly dislike Microsoft, and am writing this review on a computer that is running Debian Etch (aka GNU/Linux).
Before I launch into my review it would probably be helpful to potential buyers if I describe my experience buying from Amazon and the shipping service. But since this is not a review of Amazon or UPS this is FYI and is not taken into consideration in my 4-star rating of the Xbox 360.
Buying from Amazon:
+ They were one of the first retailers to differentiate the new HDMI version and had it available long before my local stores even knew it existed.
+ I ordered around 3pm PDT on Monday and UPS had it at my door 9am Tuesday.
- Trying to add a VGA cable or game to the order resulted in an extra day before the console would ship. So I ended up ordering them from some good eggs on another website.
+ They delivered on time, about 17 hours from pick up to delivery at my house.
+ No damage what so ever, even though some people report getting multiple damaged consoles.
Now onto my impressions of the Xbox 360. Keep in mind that prior to this I held the view that PC gaming was superior and consoles lacked the power or storage to produce a gaming experience on par with the PC. I never did understand why 4 guys loved playing 007 multiplayer in one quadrant of a fuzzy TV screen (N64 I think it was) when a PC had higher resolution and each person got their own screen.
Xbox 360 Marketplace:
The marketplace allows users to download demos and game trailers/videos of upcoming games as well as previous releases. Contrary to what I expected, the demos download quite quickly in spite of often being 1GB in size. My guess is that the download speed is at least 400 KB/sec. There are also TV shows and movies that you can purchase, but that's not something I want to buy. All of this (except the content you have to buy) is free and doesn't require the Gold membership. I particularly enjoy being able to browse the list of demos, select several to download, and soon after can sample the game play of a wide variety of games. The simplicity and ease of the demo system is far superior to tracking down and trying PC demos.
OK, I'll be honest, it sucks that I have to pay for the ability to play online. But if you shop around you can get the 12+1 month cards for $40, reducing the cost to around $3 a month.
But the rest of the Live system I love. I especially like how it all integrates into the "my xbox" part of the Live website. From either in game or on PC I can see if my friends are online, what they are playing, send and receive text messages, and compare game stats. Maybe I didn't make that clear; I can be at work and message friends in-game from my PC. I think that is pretty cool.
If both me and a friend are using an Xbox 360 we can also send voice messages or even join a voice chat room. The sound quality is not on par with Ventrillo and the VOX-only mics can be annoying, though there is a mute switch.
Xbox 360 Games:
I know, the Xbox 360 has more games out than the Wii or PS3. But it is foolish to think that these systems will not catch up. So my criteria of choosing a system included looking at the kind of games that came out for the Xbox, Gamecube, and PS2. I also looked over the Call of Duty 3 reviews as this game was released on all of the previously mentioned consoles except the Gamecube.
My monitor is a 4:3 aspect ratio so I am at a resolution of 1024x768. This allows me to see some HD picture quality but certainly not the 1080i that almost all of my games support. But even at this lower resolution many games blow me away with the picture quality combined with good frame rates. This gamer is tired of $1000+ computer upgrades every year or two just to be able to enjoy a similar gaming experience on a PC.
The Xbox 360 games have achievement points for accomplishing certain tasks in the game. They are addictive little things and you find yourself comparing scores (via Xbox Live) with your friends and trying to outdo each other. It's so fun that I have a hard time playing old Xbox hits as I get no points from these games.
Xbox 360 System:
I find the load times to be lengthy compared to a PC (this is to be expected as a PC game is on a hard drive) and the whir of the continually spinning DVD drive to be negatives. I am told by a coworker that the DVD drive is quieter now than on the older Xbox 360s, but still louder than we would like. But in all honesty I can't even really hear it over movies and games.
The wireless controllers are impressive. I am tickled that I can power on or off my Xbox 360 from the controller. And should I leave it on, the controller will power its self off after 10 minutes. The controllers also have the connector for the voice chat headset, allowing you to still be mostly wireless while you play and chat.
I think not including wireless and an HD DVD player by default is a good thing. Why should I pay for hardware I don't want to use? I don't have an HDMI display yet so I didn't buy the Elite system. I have CAT-5 handy so no need to pay for wireless. And here in a few weeks I might decide to buy the HD DVD player, or maybe I won't. I HAVE A CHOICE!
Some people complain that rechargeable batteries were not included by default. I'm glad they were not and that the controllers were designed to fit AA batteries. I already have rechargeable alkaline batteries that work just fine (1.5 volts, not 1.2 like NiMH or NiCad). No need to pay for a proprietary battery and charging system that only adds more clutter. And a huge bonus that I can toss in normal alkaline AA cells should I ever fail to have a recharged battery ready.
The Xbox 360 is a decent gaming system. It has been plagued by more than average hardware problems but those seem to be being addressed and handled well. It is too soon to say if my console will ever die on me. But if it does I will RMA it and still consider this a 4-star system.
It is up YOU, the purchaser, to determine which console you should buy. As an electrical engineer I love the hardware in the PS3. But as a gamer I have to look at the whole gaming experience. And I think the Xbox 360 is a great system that most people will enjoy.