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Confusion over Xbox power supply problem continues

More than 14 million Xbox owners could still be left with a damaged unit despite Microsoft's attempts to solve a power supply problem, according to IT news website The Register.

Last month Microsoft recalled the power cables of all consoles manufactured before January 2004 in Europe and October 2003 in other territories. The move came after around 30 consumers reported their consoles were overheating, emitting smoke and even catching fire in some instances. Seven consumers complained that they had received minor burns.

Microsoft observed that the problem had affected less than one in 100,000 consoles but initiated the recall as a precaution, offering consumers replacement power cables at no charge.

However, The Register quotes hardware experts as saying that while the new cables eliminate the safety hazard, the Xbox itself may still be damaged - as the problem actually lies within the unit itself. According to reports, there is a design flaw with versions 1.0 and 1.1 of the Foxlink power supply which can cause the solder holding it in place to wear out. This was fixed for later versions.

The replacement cables are designed to work like a fuse, so that if a short circuit occurs the unit will not catch fire. But experts say that this does not address the root problem, leaving Xbox owners who are affected safe from harm but without a working console. Many consumers are being sent replacement cables unnecessarily as they own units manufactured after the soldering issue was resolved, it's been claimed.

Microsoft's own documentation is ambiguous as to the exact cause of the problem. The company's official website refers to "rare electrical component failures that can cause fire hazards", and states that "damage caused by these failures was contained within the console itself or limited to the tip of the power cord at the back of the console."

This would seem to imply that the problem could potentially lie within the unit, but Microsoft has clearly stated that it is only offering replacement cables and will not exchange consoles.

Microsoft representatives were unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

The Register

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Ellie Gibson

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Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.