I have just invested money - cold, hard, work-earned currency - into XBox’s virtual marketplace, and since this is the first time I’ve utilized the service, I wanted to talk about my impressions.

First, the service is currently broken; I’m having trouble connecting. This is apparently a known issue right now, and since I don’t pay for membership I almost feel bad complaining, but I know that there are people who purchased a Gold membership and someone needs to champion their rights. It’s inexcusable. Make it stop.

Second, the video rental service is garbage. An HD movie costs about $6 to rent (an SD movie is something like $4, I think). The rental lasts 14 days or 24 hours after the first time you hit Play. Read that a second time, actually think about it, and you’ll see that it’s pathetic. The video selection is lacking beyond imagination. I will, in short, never be using the system again.

Third, purchasing episodes of single shows is OK. Pricing is a bit wonky (a 15 minute episode of Frisky Dingo costs the same as a 30 minute episode of something else, for instance). You do get to keep those episodes around forever, which is OK. The selection is, again, lacking.

Fourth, grabbing games and game content is pretty good. Most every game has a free trial, so you never have to make a blind purchase. The downloadable content is usually reasonable priced, though I have a hard time justifying the purchase of backgrounds.

Fifth, the point system is wonky. 500 points for $6.25? What? No, that’s silly.

As a service, it’s OK. The interface is smooth, the available stuff is tasty, There are just a few kinks that I wish weren’t.