ell, two weekends ago, my Xbox 360 finally gave up the ghost. That's right — red ring of death. I knew this was coming (my system had been struggling for about a month prior to its demise), and my experience with Microsoft customer service has thus far been exemplary. Still, it's hard not to criticize the state of product dependability in the consumer electronics industry these days, particularly when I think about how my first game console celebrates its twenty-fifth birthday this December.
The Atari 2600 is a hearty piece of machinery. Sure, it's nowhere near as complex as the game consoles of the modern era, but you've got to admit: any consumer electronic device which remains ticking after nearly three decades of use was obviously built to a higher standard. I've replaced plenty of joysticks and paddle controllers in my day, but the console itself continues to function, having never required maintenance (I'm not counting the thorough cleaning I gave the thing about five years ago in an attempt to make it "showpiece grade").
I should point out that Microsoft is far from alone in producing products that seem to break or malfunction a bit too readily. Believe it or not, those $50 DVD players that have been all the rage at Wal Mart really aren't built for mileage. We as a society continue to expect more features for less money — it practically goes without saying that past a certain point, quality should decrease alongside cost. While you folks mull that over, I'm going to go apply some more Minwax to my Atari's faux-wood front piece — it's starting to look a little dull.