Archive for the ‘Xbox 360’ Category

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.


Jasper-equipped Xbox 360s arrive, manufacturing date, lot and team details revealed

UPDATE 12-10-2008: Check out this story on to see the new Jasper-equipped Xbox 360 and find out what to look for when seeking a Jasper Xbox 360 of your own.

According to the Xbox 360 DVD Drive Database, it appears Xbox 360s outfitted with the much-anticipated Jasper chipset have finally started showing up in stores and at online retailers.

The key things to look for when buying a new Xbox 360 with the Jasper chipset is a manufacturing date (MFR) as early as 2008-08-06, Lot 8031 and up, and Team CSON. (You may have to bribe your local GameSpot salesperson to poke his or her finger through the serial number window of 360 box to inspect the manufacturing date.)

For those unfamiliar with why Jasper’s such a big deal, the chipset features 65nm (nanometers) GPU and CPU chips that require less power and are expected to offer cooler, quieter operation – and consequently fewer RRoD (Red Ring of Death) failures.

Here’s a link so you can check out all of the details for yourself: Xbox 360 DVD Drive Database.


Consumption Study Takes Aim at Game Consoles – – Green Inc.

Consumption Study Takes Aim at Game Consoles – Green Inc. Blog –

In a new study about how much energy video game consoles consume, the Natural Resources Defense Council found that consoles in use today consume “an estimated 16 billion-kilowatt hours per year,” which, the report goes on to translate, is “roughly equal to the annual electricity use of the city of San Diego.”

Link to full story: Consumption Study Takes Aim at Game Consoles – Green Inc. Blog –


The New York Times: Downloading: That Other Way to Get a Video Game, by Joe Hutsko

Downloading: That Other Way to Get a Video Game
By Joe Hutsko
Game downloading services have been around for years and are only just beginning to make a dent in sales of packaged game software.


The New York Times: A New Cable for Your Maze, By Joe Hutsko

The New York Times:
Personal Tech | Circuits | Basics
A New Cable for Your Maze


The real estate on the back of an HDTV is crowded with ports for connectors of the past. Out of that mess comes yet another cable, but it is supposed to make everything simple: the HDMI.



Halo 3 Tip: Playing on Easy difficultly unlocks only some Achievement points

Easygoing Halo 3 types, take note: Those who plan to choose the Easy difficulty level when you jump in on Tuesday may want to reconsider, because many of the achievements unlock only when the game is played on the difficulty levels above Easy (i.e. Normal, Heroic, or Legendary). At the same time, let’s rectify incorrect information previously posted on some sites, which reported that playing on Easy difficulty prevents any achievements from unlocking. On my first run into the advance copy I received today I started on Easy, completed the first level, an sure enough, didn’t receive an achievement for doing so. However, I did receive the Used Car Salesman achievement, because, granted when after you’ve “Destroyed a vehicle that has three enemies in it in a ranked playlist or in campaign.” So while those who plan to take it Easy won’t go totally unrewarded, playing on at least Normal will unlock the level completes otherwise unattainable on Easy difficulty.


MSNBC: Take your gaming from good to great – Five cool console gadget combos

On Take your gaming from good to great: Five cool console gadget combos
By Joe Hutsko

Amazon links to products described in story:


Xbox 360 Premium and Halo 360 with HDMI and analog/optical audio adapter options

Owners of the newly revved Xbox 360 Premium with HDMI or the upcoming Halo3 edition may find their new baby lacking in the sound department because neither model comes with the same audio adapter bundled with the Xbox 360 Elite.While this may not matter to those who get their sound from the HDTV’s built in speakers, it will matter to owners with separate surround sound audio systems. The Elite’s audio adapter is a dongle with RCA and optical output ports.If you want that same kind of output option on your new 360 or Halo 3 console with HDMI, you have two options: Buy the $50 Xbox 360 HDMI AV Cable, or switch your HDTV’s audio setting from internal speakers to external output (providing yours has it; not all HDTVs do). Now the audio coming from the 360′s HDMI connection will get redirected to the audio output ports and connected surround sound speakers.


BioShock Tip: Harvest or Rescue? Choose Rescue and earn “Hypnotize Big Daddy” plasmid

Early into Bioshock I was faced with a tough decision: Harvest my first Little Sister for more ADAM power, or Rescue her for half the ADAM reward – and Tennenbaum’s promise of another benefit at a later point?

I chose to Rescue, figuring I’ll go with harvesting on my next replay of BioShock (which is, to date, my favorite Xbox 360 game since the platform launched; full review to follow).

Sure enough, two (or maybe it was three) Rescues later, the following sequence occurred, giving up the plasmid “Hypnotize Big Daddy.”

“Hypnotize Big Daddy” plasmid reward:


One Minute Review: The new Xbox 360 Premium HDMI; Yes, it’s quieter, but no Falcon 65nm chipset…yet

I called a few EB Games and Gamestop stores in the area, and only one person knew what I was talking about when I asked if they had the newly revised 360 Premium system with HDMI in stock.

The other shops asked if I meant the Elite. Ditto at Best Buy – until the guy I asked called over his gaming specialist, Jeremiah, and this guy knew exactly what I was talking about. He checked the system and they showed 14 units in stock, however he said he couldn’t sell me one because of a September 1 street date.

I mentioned that others were already selling them, including Amazon, and he looked up some store policy info. Turns out they can sell the newly revised HDMI 360s as long as the older, non-HDMI units are out of stock or sold out. He grabbed one from the back, I paid for it ($349.99) and also sprang for Best Buy’s 2-year extended warranty ($60), which, my sales guy explained, allows me to return the 360 for a full exchange even if only the controller is busted. Back home I did a search and was bummed to discover that my new 360 with HDMI didn’t have the much-anticipated “Falcon” 65-nm chipset that promises cooler operation.

Sure enough the label on the box showed the word Zephyr as the chipset. Various reports say the Falcon chipset is forthcoming. I contacted a Microsoft PR representative and he gave me the stock reply to this question:

“We are constantly updating the console’s more than 1700 internal components and therefore will not comment on details of specific components or manufacturing processes.”

Even so, promises that the revised Xbox 360 with HDMI would be quieter are true: The machine is definitely quieter than the Elite it is replacing, with no noticeable sound when turned on and running without a disc inserted, and with a disc the operation does produce sound, but less than the Elite and the original 360.

While I can live without the 120 GB drive (since I download a movie, watch it, then delete it, and maintain only a few demos at any given time), I was bummed to find there was no analog audio adapter included like the one that came with the Elite. It allows me to use HDMI as my video but analog audio to connect to my surround sound speakers rather than use the less-than-stellar speakers built into the HDTV. I’ll either buy a replacement online or keep the one that came with my Elite when I sell or give away that black box without it.

Bottom line: A quieter Xbox 360 with HDMI.


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