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Tuesday, March 05, 2002
Scratches take gloss off Xbox launch


Japanese gamers have discovered that the much-hyped Xbox games console can cause scratching to DVD disks. But Microsoft says the defects are unlikely to affect game playing and does not intend to recall the device...

The scratches affect the edge of DVD disks on the side storing data. Since the console was launched in Japan on 22 February, Microsoft has reportedly received 243 reports of the problem. The company claims the scratches occur when disks are placed into the DVD drive tray, rather than whilst the disk is playing.

Microsoft was unable to confirm the number of reported cases but say it is relatively small. "Compared to the number of consoles sold, the number of calls are quite tiny," says a spokeswoman. Some reports suggest that Microsoft has already sold as many as 125,000 consoles in Japan. "If any consumer thought a disk was affected they can call the customer care line," she told New Scientist. "If it does not work we will repair or replace it."

Error correction

The Xbox console was launched in the US on 15 November 2001 and an undisclosed number of US customers have reported scratches. But Microsoft says there were no reports in the US that these scratches affected the playing of disks.

Serious scratches can impair a DVD player's ability to read information although error correction software provides a certain amount of tolerance to such flaws. Microsoft say the scratches should not reduce the lifespan of the disks.

The DVD drive in the Xbox is a customised PC DVD ROM drive. The Microsoft spokeswoman says that other DVD and CD players can cause similar scratches. But one DVD player manufacturer, Philips, says it has never had reports of such problems.

The console is already available in the US and will be launched in Europe on 14 March.


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