I've heard a lot of staggeringly unbelievable claims in my life, but I think Microsoft's latest explanation for why so many of the company's Xbox 360 consoles die a premature death belongs somewhere near the top of the pile. Law of the Game's Mark Methenitis called the company's tech support folks when his Xbox suffered the red ring of death and was told - get this - that his surge protector was to blame.
The Xbox 360 is highly sensitive to reductions in power, and even the slightest cut in power can cause things like the fans and even the DVD laser to malfunction. Surge protectors can cause this, and probably 90% of the consoles they see have all failed in 6-12 months of being plugged into a surge protector.
OK, I see. The surge protector is the problem. An expensive piece of state of the art electronics such as the Xbox 360 wants to live wild and free in the electrical outlet and not be bound by the rules of surge protection. I swear, when I read Microsoft's stance on this issue I heard the voice of Bill Cosby spring to life in the back of my brain and declare "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life!" Who among us doesn't use a surge protector these days? Isn't it somewhat common sense to plug something like a game console into a protector to safeguard it against lightning strikes, power surges, and other bad electrical mojo? If this really is the problem then I think we can mark this one down as "bad engineering". If surge protectors aren't the problem, however, then score one for "bad tech support". Like so many other things in life, I fear, the true answer lies somewhere in between.