Xbox 360 Elite Holiday Bundle: HD Cables AWOL

Dennis Faas's picture

Parents, take note: Microsoft's Xbox 360 Elite holiday bundle doesn't pack all the cables you need to take advantage of the console's high-definition potential. That's a change Microsoft has made in hopes no one would notice, and it could lead to some disappointed faces on Christmas morning.

This past weekend, I purchased Microsoft's Xbox 360 Elite Holiday bundle -- you'll recognize it by the two games on the cover, Lego Batman and Pure. On the surface, it's a good deal; two free games and a console Microsoft promises is less likely to suffer from the dreaded "Red Rings of Death" issue that has plagued so many unfortunate 360 owners. (Source:

Frustration Leads to... Further Frustration

On a side note, I purchased the Elite because my launch Xbox 360, purchased in November 2005, experienced the red rings for the third time in four years, and beyond three years from the original purchase date Microsoft will no longer repair the issue free of charge. (Source:

Unfortunately, missing in the Elite bundle this Christmas season is something very important: high definition component cables or an HDMI cable, both necessary for connecting the console to an HDTV. This despite the box's proclamations, including the note "Play high-def Xbox 360-exclusive games like Halo 3: ODST, Gears of War 2, and Fable II."

HDMI, Component Cables AWOL

Replacing the HDMI and Component cables, which were offered in previous bundles of the Elite (my own November 2005 launch system included the component cables) are standard-definition composite cables -- which lack the ability to transmit an HD signal.

True, in small print the box does state (on the bottom) "HD cable (sold separately) required for high-definition video," but that's easy to miss, particularly if you or someone you know has purchased an Xbox 360 in the last four years with HDMI or component cables included.

Microsoft is Like Talking to a Brick Wall

I contacted Microsoft about the issue and received stonewall-style customer support.

The first representative I talked to speculated Microsoft's reason for the cable change was down to Elite buyers not wanting HD cables for the reason that they don't own HDTVs -- which is a bit like saying Audi or BMW might take out a Bose stereo system in their vehicles simply because someone complained it was too loud. Everyone wants HD cables included in the package, even if they don't own an HDTV.

His supervisor then explained that he could not speak on behalf of the Microsoft board of governors (who he said decided on the policy change) and suggested I contact Microsoft directly and not Xbox 360 customer support.

Classy customer support this was not.

So beware parents and techies: aside from two free games there may be hidden costs in that Elite bundle this holiday season.

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