Xbox 360 Woes: E74 Becoming Big Problem

There's no doubt that the Xbox 360 seems to have more technical issues than a junky used car. With that said, an old, existing error is now rapidly becoming a not-so-phantom menace.

From a personal standpoint, it's really amazing to see how well Microsoft's Xbox 360 console sells on the market. Granted, the Wii console from Nintendo kicks it around financially, the numerous hardware issues Microsoft has had to face should lead one to believe that the consumer market would actually stray away from the faulty equipment. Strangely enough, that hasn't happened, and from a sales point-of-view, the gaming community prefers the Xbox 360 over its same-level adversary (with less technical faults, no less), the PlayStation 3. That's based on numbers, of course.

To add on top of the Red Ring of Death issue and lawsuits stemming from the company's supposed knowledge of faulty hardware before the initial shipment, Microsoft recently faced huge problems once it released the new interface, the NXE. Additionally, an older error--dubbed E74 due to an error code displayed on the screen-- has rapidly increased in number since the release of NXE back in November 2008; the two may or may not be related. On the technical end, the E74 error stems from the integrated HDMI: the solder on the ANA/HANA scaling chip apparently comes loose. Because it's an internal issue, gamers aren't aware of the problem until snow or lines begin to cross the screen. The one red light in the lower right-hand quadrant eventually comes on. Many Xbox 360 owners have resolved the issue by wrapping pennies in electrical tape and weighing the ANA/HANA down, however that's not an official fix and will void the console's warranty.

So why would the new Xbox 360 interface aggravate the HDMI hardware problem? According to an analysis done by Joystiq (link), it's speculated that the entire system is being taxed by the NXE or, more importantly, Microsoft may have changed the system diagnostics test to report a Red Ring of Death error as E74 instead. The latter is probably unlikely, however if that were the case, gamers inflicted with Error E74 would thus have to cough up more than $100 for the repair if the error occurs later than 12 months after purchase, as Error E74 is not covered under the 3-year extended warranty set in place for the Red Ring of Death malfunction. Posing the Red Ring of Death error as E74 would save Microsoft millions.

Still, a Google Trends chart clearly shows an immediate increase in hardware failure since November 2008 (link), even more so since October 2008, so the problem isn't imaginary, it isn't fiction. The hardware revisions made to the overall Xbox 360 design have thus not addressed the current Error E74 issue. At one point, Microsoft even said it was looking into the matter. However just recently, Joystiq received this official statement:

E74 is a general hardware error on Xbox 360 indicated by a single red flashing light in the Xbox Ring of Light and an error message visible on the television. This error is unrelated to the three flashing red lights error and there is not a single root cause. We encourage anyone who receives this error to contact Xbox Customer support through or 1-800-4-MY-XBOX. The majority of customers who own Xbox 360 consoles continue to have a terrific experience from their first day, and continue to, day in and day out.

By the statement, it is obvious that Microsoft is avoiding any public announcements regarding Error E74, however the company will ultimately have to face the thousands of consumers already complaining.  And, if Joystiq isn't exaggerating the consumer feedback, it looks as if more will continue to pour in.

"When we recently posted about the Xbox 360's E74 error and asked for your input, we weren't prepared for the staggering response we'd receive," reads Joystiq. "Within a few hours, we had dozens of emails from readers like you who had experienced this particular hardware failure (typically caused, according to unofficial web reports, by a loose scaling chip). It was surprising to touch such a nerve, but what really knocked us for a loop was what we found when we started compiling the data sent to us."

While the Xbox 360 does have a great library of games, consumers may want to weigh the hardware technical issues against Sony's PlayStation 3. Of course, although all three current consoles suffer hardware issues to some degree, the Xbox 360 oozes with hardware design failures, feeling almost as if the console was hastily thrown together rather than designed with the consumer in mind. Stay tuned for more information regarding Error E74, as this problem will more than likely not be resolved for some time.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more.