|Musings of an Xbox Owner|
Yet Another Blatant Money Grab
Wed Jan 9, 2008
Up to this day, I still think that the Xbox 360 Core was the biggest rip off in console history. Sell them a system with zero internal storage so that 95% of the customers who actually play the system will go out and buy an outrageously priced memory card or worse (and probably in the majority of cases), buy an Xbox 360 hard drive which would end up giving them less of a package at the same price that the Premium system would have cost in the first place. Price gouging is nothing new to the Xbox 360. Most of the accessories are outrageously priced with an apparent 100% or more wholesale markup.
Microsoft lost several billion dollars on the Xbox in its first four years and in order to keep the Xbox project alive, the Xbox team was given a mandate to lose significantly less money on the Xbox 360 or the continued support of the project might be reviewed by the butcher. You may wonder why the make it or break it rule which governs the Xbox 360 is not to make a profit but rather to lose significantly less than the original. Answer is, this is Microsoft. Microsoft is chock full of money hole projects which cost them billions of dollars in lost profits each year. If they slashed everything besides Windows and Office, their profits would show the biggest growth in the last 10 years. For several big projects within Microsoft, losing less and less money year over year is the expectation with eventual hopes of turning a profit.
To insure that this expectation is met, Microsoft was so nice to license Xbox peripherals in order to rake in profits from third parties meanwhile abating the low price competition which allows them to keep their prices high. To make it even worse, Microsoft does not license all their peripherals. I can understand a few of the cases where there are trade secrets involved such as the wireless controllers and maybe even the outrageously priced wireless adapter however there are other cases where they have no reason to refuse licenses. Take memory cards for example. There are definitely zero trade secrets in them yet they are outrageously priced (especially the old ones). Yet, Microsoft refuses memory card licenses. A case of conflict of interest? Take that Microsoft's official memory cards are sold at 500%-1500% the price of any other flash memory (like a Sony memory stick), you be the judge.
Recently I bought a new Xbox 360. Mine like many (or perhaps most) of the first 10 million systems out there, it also fell dead to the red ring of death. My old system was a launch unit and it worked admirably until a few months ago. Like all of the newer Xbox 360s, mine has HDMI output. HDMI works well except that I also need an optical audio out if I want to get 5.1 surround sound because my TV (as most do) down sample the HDMI audio feed before it is feed back out to the digital audio out. In that case, you can just use both AV out cables and be done with it right?
Not so fast says Microsoft. Microsoft has purposely placed the two AV out jacks so close together that it makes it impossible to use both an HDMI cable and the standard HD AV adapter. Microsoft's solution to this problem is a $50 version of the exact same adapter (minus the video out cables) now in a slim form factor. What a most excellent deal don't you think? Lets all get excited about spending $50 on something we already have. And even more exciting is that the $40 HD AV pack is much more featured and is cheaper to add insult to injury.
Luckily, there is a cheaper way if you find yourself in this predicament.
You may be asking yourself why I have seemingly forgotten about the included HDMI cable. I have not forgotten about it, I make no mention of it because HDMI cables are cheap and I do not excuse this ridiculous money grab on such a pack in.
At the top of the HD AV adapter which plugs into the back of the system, there is a plastic box. If I had to guess, I would imagine that there was a metal housing within this plastic. I probably would never have any use for this cable so I felt free to pry off the plastic housing to see if the additional extra few millimeters would give me the space I needed to plug both cables in. Viola!, it worked like a charm. The fit is still very tight and if you have an HDMI cable which has a big head, you may need to find one with a smaller head. Inside of the removed plastic housing, there is a metal housing for all the adapters used in the HD AV cable. No exposed wiry mess. If you do not have an HDMI cable, bug your cable company and they will probably give you a free one or if not, buy one online. They are significantly cheaper and just about all HDMI cables will give you excellent signal transfer. No need to spend top dollar on HDMI cables. The HDMI cable I am using is from my cable company and I am using the same HD AV adapter that came with the system. I spent nothing for what could have been a $50 rip off.