There was a predictable song and dance about crashing Xboxes at E3 this year. Everyone seemed happy to ignore the fact that the hardware and software were in a constant state of development in favour of a few amusing photographs of blue screens of death. While we watched this unfold, we witnessed GameCubes, PlayStations and PlayStation 2 consoles, and even GameBoy Advance consoles malfunction in one pre-release state or another. Hey, back in the day I could crash my Super Nintendo using a code-boggled Action Replay 2, and that's about as close to the intended release setup as these units. Which is why, on balance, we reckon that reports of similar problems with demo units "coast to coast" in America are hot air, or at the very least down to pre-release hardware and software failure. Any complaints about instability will have to be based on the release candidate Xbox, as far as we are concerned, and a few words to that effect from a Toys 'R' Us employee aren't all that convincing. So far, of all the demo units sent to stores across America, the press has picked up on four that have problems. And these are severe problems; audio skip, loading issues, incessant freezing… the sort of thing you might put down to actual mechanical failure, and apparently one even arrived DOA. Well blow me. That's convincing evidence of a widespread problem, chaps! Ultimately, this one is going to run and run, because everybody likes to have a dig at Microsoft's expense now and then, and although we doubt the effectiveness of Microsoft's online strategy, and although we reckon they will find less enthusiasm for their occasionally excellent launch line-up than they expect, we do not think they would be stupid enough to release a console with inherent stability problems. It just doesn't wash.
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