Having sold around ten of these consoles - and more scarily bought at least 20, its easy to see my personal relationship with Microsoft's latest console is one of both love and hate. On one hand it is probably the most versatile console on the market currently with a price point which keeps most 'normal' (I hate using the term 'Hardcore') gamers happy, as it balances price with graphics and content.
It is at this level the console has made it's mark. Looking across the spectrum of the console market today it is easy to see that there is almost far too much choice (apart from the Nintendo Wii of course), 360 Core/Arcade/Premium/Elite not to mention all the flavors of the PS3 also. It starts to become very confusing - particularly to parents who cares nothing for consoles! Its easy to see why they are magically attracted to the simplicity of Nintendo's flag.
Regardless, back to the 360 console itself. Apart from the now well documented and finally fixed 'RRoD' (Red Ring of Death - to anyone who does not know this probably persisted in the first few generations of the console, where it would overheat to the point of breaking) there is little in the way of problems with the hardware. Of all the consoles I've had for personal use this - and the noise of the dvd drive - were the only two major concerns I had. I had to personally send back 2 360 consoles for repair - which on one hand shows customer commitment to Microsoft but on the other is most definately something that no consumer should need to do more than once! At the time of writing most 360 consoles are still covered under the Microsoft extended warranty scheme which elongated the warranty from one to three years.
The pros of the console maybe put it ahead of its class at the current generation of console gaming. Unlike the 'true 1080p' of the PS3 the Xbox 360 seems to run most games at a comfortable 720p - which in my eyes is a perfectly acceptable resolution for the console - as demonstrated by the PS3 developers were not so keen on making the jump from RGB/PROG Scan to 1080p as most games native resolution turned out to be 720p! The list of games, which I've carefully listed under 'PROS' is a matter of opinion. Personally, I am a fan of FPS's, but not to the level of some. I enjoy most games with a good story, and if the 'space marine trapped with a rifle' floats your boat, then the XBOX is definately for you. Alternative games do come few and far between, but they still
do come out. It is easy for people to critizise the console for this, but the Wii is no different, there is a lack of FPS's on it - so, if you consider this the reverse of that situation its not strictly speaking a bad thing!
Connectivity: The Xbox is a good console for streaming video and music, assuming you are connected to a Windows machine through your Local area network you can allow for the 360 to access and play content (even while playing a game) via the network, a good example of its uses are; Streaming (even a HD) movie from your PC onto your HD TV. Streaming Music from your PC's music folder onto the 360 either at the dashboard, or whilst playing a game. Giving rise to custom playlists for certain games!
XBOX LIVE, one of the largest draws to the system is the final thing I am going to draw your attention to. It consists of a world wide enclosed network (which you have to subscribe to) in which you can chat and compete against friends and strangers on most of the Live compatiable games, a list of which seems to be growing exponentially. This is probably where the 360 comes into its own. It's online content appears to be very difficult to replicated or beat, as both the Nintendo Wii and Sony PS3 appear to struggle to keep up. This Autumn Microsoft will be completely relaunching the live services to give it (what appears to me at least) a more 'Apple' feel, with the graphical user interface resembling Itunes more than Windows Media Player. Live also has the feature to download and 'rent' movies from their online store. For a fee of no more than about four pounds, you can download and watch a movie from the growing movie library in standard or high defination! A great for people who cant get to the video shop! Lastly, the wonderful Xbox Live Arcade: Where the system appears to have a lack of original titles coming out retail it makes up for it with it's (sometimes hit or miss) XBOX Live Arcade titles. XBLA is a place where for four or 8 pounds you can download an original arcade game - i.e Pacman, Digdug, or some original content - i.e Braid, geometry wars. Luckily before purchase you get the opportunity to trail the games in demo mode!
Compared with the alternatives, the XBOX 360 is the best of all worlds. Fully capable of HD gaming, but still at home on an SD TV set. Got great online content for free and a paid for subscripion service should you desire online competition. Great connectivity for your media - music, video and pictures. Great scope for software updates constently creating a feeling of 'freshness' to the console experience. It has great software franchises 'Halo', 'GTA' etc and it has the excellent XBOX live Arcade. On the downside it is not completely child friendly, there is a lack of the more 'creative' games and defaintely a lot of bandwagon jumping FPSs. Currently you can pick up a 360 second hand for less than you could find a Nintendo Wii and at about the third of the price of the cheapest PS3. So in terms of cash over gaming this is probably the best value for money on the current market!