Thursday, August 09, 2007

Console Post of the Week: One Day Early Edition

Microsoft confirmed today that they've added an HDMI port to the Premium model of the 360 (not $349). So both the Elite and Premium units have HDMI.

The open question for everyone has been when would the 65nm CPU units (with the redesigned "Falcon" motherboard) be available? And how would we tell? Opposable Thumbs reported this:
According to my source, Microsoft wants to cut through all their existing inventory of hardware. They will then quietly "soft launch" a new version of the Core and Premium hardware in late August or September that will include an HDMI port. It's also expected that this new hardware will feature the 65nm process for the CPU and quieter DVD drives. The new hardware will ship in boxes very similar to what we saw on store shelves now, but there will be a small "call out" on the box so you know you're getting a system with the HDMI connection.

That was scoop gold for OT. The Core unit is apparently not getting an HDMI port, but just about everything else they said has turned out to be rock solid.

Today, a Shack News reader posted that he had purchased a Premium 360 at a Target store in Atlanta, and it was the new version, complete with HDMI port. He also said that the HDMI connection was listed on the box itself under "contents," so it should be easy to verify what you're getting.

I mentioned a few week ago that Microsoft might be quietly trying to drain the inventory swamp before they launched the new units, and in the U.S., at least, I believe that's what happened. I went to Target, Best Buy, and Fry's tonight, and they were all out of stock on the Premium unit. Highly unusual, since the 360 had high retail penetration. The clerk at Fry's said they hadn't gotten shipments for the Premium in over a month.

Actually, Fry's wasn't out of stock--they had two new units, both with early June manufacture dates. There was an entire pallet of Elite's, all with a 7/23 manufacturing date (could have been 7/24--now I've forgotten).

I'm guessing that any retail location that is currently out of stock will be restocked within a few days with the redesigned units which include an HDMI port. So if you're looking for one and haven't wanted to buy the RROD version, an opportunity should be available within the week, if you live in the U.S. Just be sure to check the box and confirm that the HDMI port is listed.

The price drop, I believe, had absolutely zip, zero, zilch to do with Madden. Microsoft wanted an excuse to goose volume to clear out the remaining RROD units, and based on their current inventory levels, they believed the price cuts they rolled out would quickly move the old units. I thought this might take several months to work through, but now it looks like we're talking more in weeks. In the U.S., based on what's happened in the last few days, it appears that U.S. inventory may well be entirely clean of RROD by the time Halo 3 launches.

At that point, the size of the swamp is fixed at its largest, given that the new units are presumably inside regular failure tolerance levels (<5%). Microsoft's problem lies in determining how to drain the swamp as quickly and effectively as possible, and with the highest level of customer satisfaction.

I'm looking forward to hearing the noise and heat comparisons with the old units, and hopefully someone will do something like that within days.

I may have more for you on Friday, but this was timely enough that I wanted to go ahead and post it.

Site Meter