Sunday, October 12, 2008

Xbox India Buying Guide

The Rs. 14990/- Xbox offer is finally on. For this, you get a Xbox 360 Core and 2 free games - Viva Pinata and Forza Motorsport. Since the import duty on consoles in India is 33% - 50%, it seems M$ is getting rid of the old backlog stock and setting the stage for introducing the Arcade version in India ($200 + 50% ~ Rs. 14,500/- at current rates) to replace Core which has been discontinued all over the rest of the world.

I went out this weekend to buy an Xbox and came back empty handed. The deal breaker was the hard disk. The cheaper version (Core - Rs. 15k) doesn't have it and I was not mentally prepared to buy the more expensive version (Premium - Rs. 24k) considering its price. So why exactly do we need a Xbox hard disk?

Firstly, the upcoming New Xbox Experience will require at least 128 MB of storage space, meaning the 64 MB memory cards currently being sold will not be enough to even support the update. On the other hand, the price of a 256 MB memory card (which is not even sold in India) is I am sure going to be quite high enough that it would better if you bought the hard disk model, considering the other free stuff that comes with it. (64 MB sells for Rs. 2k+ and 20 GB HDD for 6k+)

Secondly, Microsoft themselves have a list put up which (indirectly) shows the advantages of a hard disk. In a nutshell, you need storage for:
  1. Saving games :)
  2. Play original Xbox games (needs HDD - not Memory Card)
  3. Saving media, music, downloaded games etc to the console
  4. Play online with Xbox Live - Gold or Silver
  5. Voice chat etc
With all these features using storage space, add NXE and suddenly the hard disk seems much more valuable.

Additionally, right now there is a hilarious situation with several retailers where they have Core consoles but no memory cards - meaning if you take the console home, you cant save games on it! I asked one dealer (EZone at Hometown in Great India Place, Noida) about this and he says, "yes sir, you cannot turn off the power"...

In fact, even the Pro versions currently being sold in India do not have an HDMI port, so they are still selling the older motherboards here - not surprising considering the pathetic sales here :) If you see try to call the official Xbox dealer list (for India), half of them have stopped selling Xbox anymore...

Yet if you go to Palika Bazaar, you can see Xboxes (and games) being sold left and right. I dont know what %age of them are modchipped, but considering that the modchipped version is cheaper and does have the HDMI port, I imagine its quite high. Its an interesting quandary where the console grey market is concerned for Xbox and PS3. PS3 has no modchip, so there is little other than immediate gain in buying a grey market piece. Xbox does have a modchip but the thingie fails so frequently that you would be insance to get one without a warranty. Although, grey market dealers do claim they can repair both PS3 and Xbox :)

Overall, my advice, if you are willing to take a bit of risk, the grey market one is a good option. Buy it soon before the Rupee falls against the Dollar any more. If you want an original one, wait a while till the Arcade version and the Pro ones with the new motherboards (with HDMI ports) are launched. The value for money is much more with that...

On the PS3 front, here's something interesting - Sony which was earlier claiming that PS3 will have a 10 year life span, is now seemingly getting prepared to throw in the towel for this generation and launch the PS4 in 2011. Also, another website has published an analysis of the RPG situation for PS3 vis-a-vis Xbox so I am definitely not the only one facing this issue :)
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