Hey Microsoft, How About an Xbox 360 Hard Drive Upgrade?

That's it, my Xbox 360's out of gas. I've officially tottered Over The Edge. The formerly formidable 120GB hard drive clapped on top of my vertically oriented unit's finally shuffled past the point of practical capacity. I've migrated my MP3s to external drives, scrubbed the video files and demos and superfluous cosmetic downloads, and dropped all the full-install games I can stand to live without down the rabbit hole. It's not enough. Not even close. Grand Theft Auto IV's eating up 9GB. Oblivion and Fable 2 have 8 a piece earmarked. Mass Effect and Sacred 2 are pushing 6 or 7 each. Lost Odyssey's first two discs alone are holding 11-plus in reserve. And yes, I really am actively chipping away at another dozen besides.

This, despite sacrificing an arm, a leg, and a pile of good ol' common sense to get my hands on Microsoft's $150 (that's $1.25 per gigabyte) Xbox 360 hard drive upgrade late last year--just in time for the company's New Xbox Experience.

So let's see here. Not only is it practically impossible to buy a 120GB standalone laptop hard drive brand new these days, even 320GB laptop models are available for just north of sixty bucks. And when Microsoft claims there's a proportional "value add" in their build-and-test process? That those 120GB drives have to perform outside of "off-the-shelf" drive specs? Are your eyeballs pivoting skyward? Mine are. As someone who coordinated the purchase process for tens of thousands of computers and upgrade parts for a Fortune 500 company (on the engineering side, to boot) something about that claim doesn't quite add up.

Does it really cost Microsoft over a hundred bucks for the fragile plastic casing plus the reseller markup, the so-called "security testing" and software preload? No one but the anointed at Microsoft know, but it's starting to sound like fuzzy math (or marketing spin) when the company's public relations muscle comes out swinging with funny science like "[the] drive has to be able to perform at specific speeds all the time in order to support our environment and our gameplay experiences." If the internal laptop drives Microsoft's using (from, incidentally, a variety of different manufacturers) aren't essentially the same as the off the shelf drives, how come homebrew-rigged off the shelf models work flawlessly?

Microsoft's rolling forward with plans to bring 30 Xbox 360 titles to its "Games on Demand" service this August. They certainly won't make your hard drives any skinnier. Neither will all the ballooning demos and downloadable content add-ons and panoply of other media option the company's selling increasingly more of. Me personally, I'm already overextended.

Here's the deal. Sony's PlayStation 3 unofficially supports hard drive upgrades of any size and has from the beginning. I dropped a 160GB 5400RPM hard drive in my PS3 last summer and it's been cooking along like a champ since. That's the standard Microsoft ought to be held to, regardless of what they want to claim about "value-adds" and so-called "security" costs. Why shouldn't we demand more flexible upgrade options? A more realistic storage upgrade price matrix? (Not to mention more reality-aligned pricing on other components--where's the value-add in charging $100 for a simple 802.11g USB wireless adapter?)

So hey Microsoft, how about a 250GB option in time for the holidays, and for less than we're paying now for your nearly obsolete 120GB one?

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