About to break down and get a console

For a week or so now I’m been kicking around the idea of hopping off my PC high horse and picking up a gaming console, and I think the Phantom Dust thread bumped me over the edge, so I think I will get myself an Xbox. So now I have two problems (not counting that I won’t be able to play Katamari Damacy).

How/where to get one? GameStop sells them for $130 used, $140 refurbished, $150 new, but they don’t have any and apparently sell out of each shipment immediately. Ebay has them under $100, but I’ve never used Ebay and it still makes me nervous. Plus I’d probably get sniped. Is there a cheap and realiable source?

How do I connect it to my Dell 2001FP? I don’t want to buy a TV set. Do I get a video capture card? Is there a NTSC/DVI converter out there somewhere?

Oh, and I promise not to start a “which games should I buy” thread.

Are there no big retail places near you? Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Circuit City, Target, K-Mart even, I don’t know. Unless you’re just dying for the $10-20 off you’ll get for a used one at Gamestop—which I would say is totally not worth the risk when you consider the past hardware issues with the Xbox—just buy one from a regular store if you have the opportunity. Can’t help you with your monitor in particular, but if you get a TV input card, don’t buy an ATi.

Mike- My 2001FP has S-video in. You can easily buy an el-cheapo third party S-Video Xbox cable.

Finagling the sound might be a problem. You could buy the fruity sound bar, I dunno.

A TV-in card isn’t a horrible idea, but I notice I lose some fidelity when I play my PS2 through my Winfast card. But you could take screenshots and shit.

I do all my sound through an A/V reciever anyway, so that shouldn’t be a huge problem. I will try the S-video route, that sounds like a sensible course.

Or you can go a little pricier and do progressive scan. I highly recommend this box for VGA input. And now that you can access a progressive scan dashboard by pressing the two triggers and the two thumbstick buttons simultaneously, you don’t even need its line doubler feature to use the system menus. Super cool.

Wow, that looks really cool. I guess if I am enjoying the Xbox I can return the S-video adapter and order one. Thanks.

OK, got the x-box, Soul Calibur 2, Ninja Gaiden, Phantom Dust and DDR. Now I just need a Live subscription. Is there an online retailer who will just send you the code, or do I need to go back and buy a card?

If you want to use voice you need an Xbox Communicator, which is the little gadget that plugs into the memory port on the controller, then the headset plugs into that. Otherwise, use one of the two-month free trial things you get in many Live-compatible games. Be sure to use one of those before you use any pre-paid card, as you can’t use the free card once you’ve activated your account without one.

I am using this. It converts any component signals to VGA. It comes with a XBOX component cable with an optical audio jack.

You can also use it for PS2, GC as long as you get the component cables for them as well.

This is worth emphasizing in case you just skimmed. If you have the free two month card, you should probably still go ahead and buy the subscription package at the store that comes with a year of Live, the headset, and probably a game or some demos (Not sure what it is, at one point it was all demos, then it was MechAssault or Crimson Skies or something). The headset is what makes it worth it. But whatever you do, sign up first with that free trial. Then you can convert that into a full account with the Live package you bought at the store, with the benefit of two free months.

I got myself an PS2 in November and have been loving it. I’m not getting an Xbox because of my anti-microsoft bias. I’ve done a lot of research and picked up about 20 must-have PS2 (and 1) Rpgs. No more high horse! (Thank you Steam, thank you intrusive copy protection, etc…)

If you need one of those trial cards, just ask. I think I’ve got at least four sitting around unused.

Supertanker already offered me one, but thanks :)

I hope the offer is still going, though. X-box.com says free trials had to start by March

I never noticed the scratch-off cards said they were valid through 3/31/05. That’s a bummer if they dropped that program. I pm’d a code anyway, so please report back on whether it works.

Worked! Many thanks, Supertanker!

Liking Phantom Dust so far, hopefully I get to Ch3 soon so I can play online. <sigh> Why is this unlocking thing popular with gamers? It makes sense in single player, but in multiplayer it feels like a punishment.

Anyway, what sort of headsets do you guys use? Do I have to use an approved headset, or will any headset work if I have a communicator module?

Since the subject was touched upon earlier, can anyone describe options for getting sound if I want to hook a console up to my LCD monitor? It has s-video in and it works fine, but sound is the obvious problem.

The S-video adapter I have has RCA out for sound, although it’s got annoyingly little cable distance from the S-video plug. You can either use an A/V reciever with RCA extension cables (Fry’s is on my list today for those) or you can get an RCA female / 1/4" stereo male cable and plug it into your computer speakers. Or some other adapter, depending on your speakers’ connection details.

Yeah, my s-video cable for my PS2 and GC have RCA outs for sound, too. So the simple solution sounds like buying an adapter/extention so I can plug it into my speakers. Or sound card, I assume?

Oooh, yeah. I hadn’t thought of that. Then you can keep your MP3s going, too. Depends on your sound card, but that sounds like a good route, one fewer thing to have to change when you want to load up the console.