Let's be clear about this; the 360 is a truly shoddy piece of engineering.
Millions of dollars spent on R&D, millions more correcting the 'red ring of death' problems, and still the one company synonymous with all that is computing can only peddle a design that would embarrass a Japanese schoolchild. In rushing the system out to steal a march on Sony, Bill Gates et al have created the most unreliable games machine to date.
Hardware failures remain commonplace, even after a number of rethinks for newer models or when older consoles have been returned to Microsoft for inspection. And don't think the problems are one-offs. As I write, my late-2006 X-Box has completely failed for the second time in 18 months. Of course, the warranty has also expired, and so the cost of sending the machine away for the second time? £92.
It doesn't matter which version you go for - they're all the same bar simple aesthetics, HDD capacity and basic packaged peripherals - the fact remains that a crusty, wheezing, eight-year-old PlayStation 2 is still infinitely more reliable than a 360 can ever dream of.
But stepping outside for some air, and allowing the anger to slowly drain, there remains a compelling case for owning this machine above all others.
Take a look at that price. The 360 is by far the cheapest way to get into next-gen, high-definition gaming, and for the uninitiated, there really is a difference. For the same opportunity, Sony will ask you to part with 250 English pounds to acquire the new PS3 slim model, and it is not backwards compatible with the vast library of PS2 titles many people still own and love. Microsoft have kindly offered, indeed, insisted upon, a free downloadable upgrade to enable immediate access to all their last-gen treats.
The quality of the graphics and sound, coupled with the comparitively easy negotiation of the impressive online features makes for the complete experience, regardless of whether you're new to games or if they've completely destroyed your life after years of abuse. The future promise of Project Natal is also indicative of a company intent on prolonging the lifespan of the current model, and after the Wii's success, the 'controllerless control' could open the final doors to every last family member with games that offer more than simple novelty value. But hardware means nothing if developers fail to support you, and this is where Microsoft takes an idignant driving glove to Sony's chiselled features.
Much is made of the PS3's superior processing power, but having slowly established themselves again it is clear that the Japanese giant are woefully reliant on tired old franchises. Where is the killer game that will force the undecided into a purchase? Surely after 15 years (yes, 15) it can't be Tekken? As pretty as they are, the indestructible cars of Gran Turismo must be thinking about a cosy garage after a decade on the (same) tracks? And as for Metal Gear Solid, some of the cutscenes are six months long - people have been born, died and reincarnated as a squirrel in the time it takes to listen to the extended drivel in those games. Anything new?
Halo, Gears of War, Left 4 Dead, Grand Theft Auto downloadable content... there's only one home for them all at present. The simple fact is that the 360 is matching the PS3 game-for-game and then trumping it with some genuinely exciting exclusives, and that, above all else, is what matters.
Yes, this machine will almost certainly let you down at some point. But if you can forgive the fact that it was apparently designed by chimps with a giant Crayola, and that the technology does at times seem no more advanced than a boiled potato, you will enjoy the finest gaming currently on offer.