I just bought a refurbished 360 for $225 and get a 3 year full warranty for 10% of that. I bought my first 360 right at launch and it lasted over two years, died, I sold it for $200 and bought a PSP(so i would have something to keep me awake at work).
As for the noise issue, your only able to hear it when your not doing anything like sitting on the dashboard. When gaming you cant hear it so it can't be a big issue.
XBL has over 10 million subscribers now
and the service is very reliable. That's why you pay for it. You would want to host a major website on some free hosting site that may work, you want your site to always be up and running at 100%. i couldn't find any numbers on how many people use the online "service" the ps3 offers. Sony doesn't have much experience when it comes to online console gaming. PS2 didn't even have an Ethernet port, you had to buy the $100 adapter and after that the number of games that were available online were very small. XBL has been running since November 15, 2002 and has proven itself as the dominate console online gaming service. And for those worried about little kids and the like muting people is a 3 button process that takes about 5 seconds.
So far Rockstar has confirmed 2 "episodes" that are exclusive to the 360. The episodes will be similar to the episodes we saw from Half Life 2. A continuation of the story with new missions and such.
Gears of War 2, Ninja Gaiden 2, Fable 2, and Halo Wars are just some of the 360 exclusives that are coming out soon.
You can stream anything to the 360 via the media center extender. Just set mine up tonight and it works great. You can test how well media will be streamed also.
I was exploring around on XBL marketplace and also in the media center and found many free things and also the ability to listen to music and watch tv shows for free.
In my experience the 360 is much more user friendly than the ps3. First off the 360 controller fits any size hand perfectly. I've got bigger hands and the same controller fits my girlfriends hands who are pretty small. The layout of the controller is also an important aspect of functionality. 360 controller follows the things that worked right in the original xbox controllers and adds many new features that also work very well, whereas the ps3 controller is almost exactly the same as a ps2 controller but with the 6axis "feature".
Oh and I almost forgot sony left everyone who wants to play an old ps2 game on there $600 ps3 out to dry buy getting rid of backward compatibility. Why would they do that? Now instead of trading in your ps2 for credit towards the ps3 you want to buy you have to keep it and spend the full amount.