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Xboxes still at risk of frying

Experts say replacement cables won't save consoles from death by power supply.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Some of the more than 14 million Xbox owners told to replace their power cables could be left with a damaged console despite Microsoft's attempts to solve a power supply problem, according to IT news website The Register.

Last month Microsoft recalled the power cables of all Xboxes manufactured before January 2004 in Europe and October 2003 elsewhere. The move came after around 30 consumers reported their consoles were overheating, emitting smoke and even catching fire in some instances. Seven people said they had received minor burns.

Microsoft pointed out that the problem had affected less than one in 100,000 consoles but launched the recall as a precaution, offering Xbox owners replacement cables at no charge.

However, The Register quotes hardware experts as saying that while the new cables eliminate the safety hazard, the Xbox itself may still be damaged as the problem actually lies within the unit itself. According to reports, there is a design flaw with versions 1.0 and 1.1 of the Foxlink power supply which can cause the solder holding it in place to wear out. This was fixed for later versions.

The replacement cables are designed to work like a fuse, so that if a short circuit occurs the unit will not catch fire. But experts say that this does not address the root problem, leaving Xbox owners who are affected safe from harm but without a working console. Many consumers are being sent replacement cables unnecessarily as they own units manufactured after the soldering issue was resolved, it's been claimed.

Microsoft's own documentation is ambiguous as to the exact cause of the problem. The company's official website refers to "rare electrical component failures that can cause fire hazards" and states that "damage caused by these failures was contained within the console itself or limited to the tip of the power cord at the back of the console.

This would imply that the problem could potentially lie within the unit, but Microsoft has clearly stated that it is only offering replacement cables and will not exchange consoles.

Microsoft representatives were unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

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