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Xbox 360 glitches: a hands-on report

Xbox 360 glitches: a hands-on report

Almost immediately after the much-heralded November 22 debut of the Xbox 360, the Web was quickly awash in reports and rumors of glitches, breakdowns, and problems that users were said to be experiencing. Three of the main complaints: game lockups, overheating power supplies, and scratched discs.

In the face of at least one lawsuit, Microsoft's official story (as cited at Kotaku) is that the rate of complaints is "below the 3 percent to 5 percent expected with new electronics products." As reported by CNET News.com, Microsoft urges 360 owners experiencing any problems to visit the company's official support page for possible solutions. If that fails, they can call 800/469-9169 (MY XBOX) for return instructions; repaired or replaced models should arrive within a week.

While it's hard to know how widespread the problems are, there are some common-sense precautions you can take to safeguard your Xbox 360. It's our guess that many of the alleged lockups and glitches that users are experiencing are due to overheating issues. You may not need to go to the MacGyver-like box-and-string solution championed by one GameSpot user, but you should be sure to give the console plenty of ventilation; the rear of the console needs to remain unobstructed so that the cooling fan can do its job, and the large outboard power supply should be unhindered as well. While we certainly can confirm that the 360 runs hot, we've experienced only smooth sailing with our review sample (a standard retail unit). That said, it's worth noting that we follow our own advice and keep it out in the open, not wedged into a tight, cramped entertainment unit, and we haven't played any marathon gaming sessions; we rarely have the unit powered on for more than four hours at a time.

The scratched-disc issue, on the other hand, is very real--if you flaunt Microsoft's specific instructions and move the console while it's powered up. We made the mistake of moving the 360 from a vertical to a horizontal orientation while it was running--and proceeded to grind our Madden NFL 06 disc into oblivion. Bottom line: Don't manhandle the Xbox 360 when it's turned on, and you should be fine.

That's the (minor) extent of our Xbox 360 horror story. What about you? Has yours crashed yet?

Assistant Editor Will Greenwald contributed to this report.