Monthly Archive for February, 2009

One Minute Review: Jasper Xbox 360

By now the new Xbox 360 you buy will be built around a chipset known as “Jasper.” 

Jasper 360s feature a redesigned motherboard with 65-nanometer graphics and processing chips. The cooler running, less power-hungry sum-of-parts is meant to make the infamous Red Ring of Dead a thing of the past.

My Xbox 360 arcade, purchased in October, was acting weird – mainly lockups when sending messages to Xbox Live buddies. Having purchased the Product Replacement Plan with the Xbox 360 from Tim at the Hamilton Mall’s downstairs Gamestop last October, I returned with the console for a replacement. There was Tim again, smart and friendly as before, but unfortunately he was out of 360 Arcades. He checked with the store upstairs, nada, then called the Shore Mall store, where Travis told him he had one left, and yes, he’d hold it for me.

I drove to Travis’s Gamestop, gave him the dud machine and inspected the new one to make sure it was a Jasper unit, and repurchased the $19.99 Product Replacement Plan for the new one, in case something goes wrong between now and this time next year.

How did I know it was a Jasper? As reported for months, the thing to look for when buying a new Xbox 360 is a power spec of 12 volts, which you can find by inspecting the box’s serial number cutout hole. It may take some finger wiggling to reveal the power rating – assuming, of course, the person selling you the unit allows you to handle the box in the first place.


Unlike the Xbox 360 Arcade it replaces, the Jasper version doesn’t come with a 256 MB memory card. That’s because Microsoft soldered the memory onto the motherboard, making the card unnecessary for saving settings and game progress. With my initial purchase of the optional 120 GB hard drive ($140), the total cost for my 360 was $340 – $40 more than the Xbox 360 Pro, which comes with a few things the Arcade doesn’t: A 60 GB hard drive, a chrome-finished disc tray door and button, a headset, a standard and HD video cable, and, at present, different bundled games. Since I already own a wireless headset and HD cable, doubling the hard disk size for only $40 was worth more than the only thing my 360 was missing –  chrome-accented disc door and button.

The new Jasper 360′s 150-watt power supply is lighter and absent of the visible fan found on older, higher power versions, and maybe it’s a placebo effect, but to my ears my new Jasper-equipped Xbox 360 runs quieter, both with and without a disc spinning inside. 

Summary: Pretty much the same Xbox 360 as before on the outside, albeit with quieter, more energy efficient components running the show on the inside.


One Minute Review: Pomeroy Computing $65 flat-rate laptop DC power jack repair

HP ZT3000

 An old HP workhorse notebook that survived Hurricane Katrina and miscellaneous other hard knocks stopped working on account of a loose power jack, which wiggled and jiggled like a baby tooth ready to say goodbye.

Nearby PC repair shops quoted a minimum of around $150 just to “look at it,” to which they’d stack parts and labor costs to fix the ol’ girl – assuming they could. 

Enter Pomeroy Computing’s $65 flat-rate DC Jack Repair service. I was skeptical at first, exchanged a few emails with Steve, the guy who does the fixes, then decided to give it a go.

I squeezed the hulking HP Z7000 series laptop into a Priority Mail flat-rate box (less than $10 to ship), dropped it at the Post Office, and within four days (owing to the weekend; the site says you can expect 3 – 5 days turnaround) I received the repaired notebook with the new power jack firmly in place.

Conclusion: This guy is like a seasoned dentist, he does so many of these things he could do them with his eyes closed.

Highly recommended.


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