Microsoft: Xbox 360 S The Best Box We've Ever Built

Xbox 360 S

GO: Estimates are you've halved the power usage from the original model, which in theory saves on an electrical bill, and while it's not a lot of money, it's not pennies. Any reason you're not talking about that?

AP: There's only so many things you can get out there, and I feel like we have an embarrassment of more exciting things to talk about. But yeah, we really looked at the whole system top to bottom, and my goal with this was, whenever anyone asks us a question about the box, I for the most part didn't have to answer why we didn't do it. The answer's simple "we did it." Part of that's just Moore's Law working in your favor over time.

Fortunately there's a lot there about the box for the people that really care about that stuff, so the answer's yeah, you know, we also changed the standby power like between 90 and 100 percent, so we're down to one watt standby. Your play time power consumption is lower, yes, but we also support the new European standards for one watt standby power draw.

GO: The older Xbox 360 elites included an HDMI and component video cable, but the Xbox 360 S only packs in the lowest-end composite video connector. Another money-saving measure?

AP: When we lowered the price, the removal of the HDMI was tied to the price drop on the elite about a year ago. When we went from $399 to $299 we took the HDMI cable out. Part of that's a cost-savings on our part, you know, where consumers would rather have the $100 price drop.

But really, the decision about what cable to put in the box, at the end of the day, on the original Xbox 360, in order to get optical audio it required a special adapter that only came with our cables. Now we've moved the optical audio port off the cable and onto the back of the Xbox 360 S itself. So when I'm thinking about the tradeoff of what I'm giving the customer, I can guarantee that every customer in the world has a composite plug on a TV, whether you've got the highest-end high-def TV or the crappiest old 13-inch TV. I need to guarantee someone can get it home and it hook it up. And beyond that, HDMI cables are a commodity, they're very inexpensive, and the same is true if you'd rather run component or VGA or whatever, but since those are options we can't predict, we base our price model on things we can, like composite.

GO: The red ring of death is no more, apparently. You've removed that error light, and apparently the new Xbox 360s will automatically shut down with a warning that says something like "take me out of your solid oak entertainment center with no ventilation, please."

AP: The whole red ring thing was an unfortunate situation, and I know people who have those stories like to tell them, but the reality is that problem was something that plagued us in the very early boxes. The last few years of boxes, that problem has largely been gone.

Unfortunately when you build 40 million of something, there's a component failure rate, and if you're at 1 or 2 percent on 40 million units, that's still a lot of people. So the red ring thing continues to be a kind of internet meme well past the point it was a legitimate issue, and why would I put myself through that again?

The new boxes are going to have a very low failure rate as it is. They're the best boxes we've ever built. Why would I want to see that error come up again? So part of it was just the decision to put that behind us.

The thermal thing, you're right, now the box will just...we've done a lot of testing, and most of these people I think are actually blocking the vent. It's not that it's inside a case. If you block that vent, or put the console right up against the side of your cabinet, we'd rather err on the side of "this isn't a good environment for the box," so we're going to turn it off before something goes wrong.

GO: Thanks Albert!

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