Scott Hanselman

Fixing an XBox DVD Drive

February 19, '05 Comments [12] Posted in Gaming
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I've had a suspicion that my XBox's DVD Drive was on it's last legs. Ordinary games have been fine, but cheaper pressed discs with demos on them like the ones that come with the XBox Magazine constantly say there's errors.

Anyway, I ordered a replacement DVD Drive (my XBox is Hardware Version 1.0) from this guy for about $60. I was able to Paypal the money and the drive came in a few days.

I popped the XBox open with a Torx Screwdriver, and about 15 minutes later I was all hooked up again. Additionally, I got an ATA-100 IDE Cable and replaced the stock one, and I feel that the XBox's I/O is AT LEAST 30% faster than before. Games load so fast that some loading screens just flash then disappear. Fable, one of the worst loading screen offenders, has loading times now that are barely noticeable.

All that said, I'm thinking of getting an LCD 42" Samsung for TV and XBox, replacing our 32" Sony Wega. When I go to BestBuy I like the "look" of the LCD screens more than the Plasma. Everyone keeps saying "Get DLP!" but I'm just not feeling it. They seem big, they are a little dim to me, and their viewing radius both horizontally and definitely vertically seems limited. Am I missing something?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Sunday, February 20, 2005 3:04:26 AM UTC
I am a cheapsake when it comes to TV's. I purchased a Mitsubishi Rear Projection after searching through dozens of websites. I could not be happier. The rear projection 48" was 1/2 the cost of a similar LCD, and a 1/4 the plasma. It looks great to me.
Sunday, February 20, 2005 3:32:44 AM UTC
The viewing angle issue is the biggest problems with DLP for me. LCOS is much better in this respect, but has other problems (in current generation sets, anyway).

Unfortunately, buying a big screen digital TV is a game of trade-offs right now. Black-levels, motion artifacts, viewing angle, brightness, and of course cost - each of the different technologies have their strengths and weaknesses. That's one of the things holding me back from buying a big set.
Sunday, February 20, 2005 6:58:59 AM UTC
I got a panny 50" lcd rear projection for $2349. LOVE IT! PT-50LC14
ian
Sunday, February 20, 2005 5:37:12 PM UTC
Two of my friends from work both picked up the Sony 60" Grand Vega LCD's a few weeks ago. They look fantastic, and have a great array of inputs and features.

I've had my Mitsubishi 65" rear projection, and have been extremely happy with it as well. I would highly recommend either of these sets. The LCD is about $1,000 more than the RPTV, but if money is not a factor, I would suggest going with the Sony.

The only way to beat these would be to pick up a high-end plasma, somewhere in the $10,000 range. Just remember to invite me over when you pick it up.

- Joshua
Monday, February 21, 2005 2:33:39 AM UTC
By the way - nice picture. ;)
Monday, February 21, 2005 3:33:21 AM UTC
how much for the old set? Ha

I like the LCD too i was just at Best Buy dreaming...

I like the new picture,

Jack
Jack
Monday, February 21, 2005 3:47:02 AM UTC
You're going to give up a nice CRT for an LCD? Yikes. Do you just want HD capability - because you CAN get an HD CRT. Do you not have the room for a CRT and need a panel?
I have yet to see an LCD/Plasma that can compete with CRT when it comes to color, artifacts, and especially viewing angle.
Monday, February 21, 2005 5:26:57 PM UTC
I'm a pretty experienced XBox modder and it has been confirmed that the xbox doesn't have an ATA133 controller. Changing the cables had been rumored to work for quite a while, but I read some pretty convincing articles on www.xbox-scene.com that cleared it up for me.

Anyway, it's quite possible that your new DVD drive is able to read the discs much faster now. I'm guessing you got a Samsung drive (Thomson are the worst for Read errors, with Philips being only slightly better). I've actually modified mine to use a PC DVD ROM (the samsung 616t).

With some slight modification to the drive itself (and a reflash of the firmware) you can get a fast DVD rom working in your xbox that reads the cheapest media. (great for scratched games or my divx movies on cheap cdr's)
Tuesday, February 22, 2005 6:18:28 AM UTC
You sure are missing a BIG PICTURE! I bought Dell 2300MP DLP projector last week and hooked it up to PS2 and it's totally out does misely plasmas 30-ish". You can project up to 200" but because of our wall size we stay confined within 80" and we don't bother to turn-off lights while watchig movies - it's seriously THAT bright. This is 2300 lumens, 2100 contrast projector for $1165 from eBay but Dell put up official $1200 deal just few days back. I'd read about lots of "washed out" picture discussions for projectors but I guess that applies to those yester-year projectors which shine 1600 lumens and cost $2000. This Dell thing is very recent (I guess Oct/Nov 2004). Only if you have entire glass wall without curtains, this projector picture would seems little washed out when Sun is out - but even then still it retains enough quality to see TV talk shows (which we never do anyway). I belieev most TV sets would suffer the same way in this condition. Overall, 100+" picture for $1200 far outweights 65" plazma screen for couple of grands+. Watch for my future blog entry for more deeper review :)
Tuesday, February 22, 2005 6:32:40 AM UTC
PS: Viewing angle is a problem if you get one of those high gain (glass beaded types) screens. Those screens were a neccessity for those poor under 1500 lumens (so-called) home theater projectors. It's not required for super bright projectors like Dell 2300MP. Infect, we are currently projecting right on our white wall (which I guess has lower then White Matt gain, probably 0.8) and picture qualities we see is really terrific (infect its good enough that I've almost dropped my plans to shell out another $100 for a screen). If you use white wall or Matt white screen or lower gain screen, viewing angle is as good as any TV set.

For LCD projectors, they are pretty much outdated.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005 10:50:40 PM UTC
Scott, I just went through this. I have been looking for about 12 months and decided that at this point in time, the best picture is Plasma. I did like the sony LCD and the samsung DLP but they could not hold a candle to the picture quality of a good plasma. I also wanted High Def since anything not 16:9 format and HD is doomed. After much looking around, I was pleasantly suprised to see that Pioneer (which I think makes the best high end Plasma displays) had made a special stripped down version for Costco. It is the PDP-4312 (which contains a PDP-4304 monitor, speakers, and table stand). It is a 4th generation 43" plasma, full HD resolution, and 5 inputs. Anyway, the price was only $2999! Go to your local Costco and check it out. I picked one up and have never been so happy (I did upgrade my Comcast cable box to the motorola HD one and it works great). Just my opinion after much looking around. I believe you can still get these off the Costco web site if your local Costco is out of stock. They also have the most generous return policy possilble (return it anytime you are not satisfied). If you don't believe me, check out the other opinions at avsforum.com (look for 'Pio at Costco'). Good luck.
Phil Hochstetler
Wednesday, March 09, 2005 4:16:53 PM UTC
I've come VERY close to replacing the DVD drive in both of my Xboxen at times, but so far I've been able to make them work again just by taking out the drive, disassembling it, and realigning the darn thing.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.