After holding off getting an Xbox 360 for more than a year, I finally relented -- Big Time.
Ended up getting a lot of four-(4) of dubious state that am hoping have at least 25% success rate. The rest can probably go to the spare parts scrap heap.
The downside of the Core Units are of course the lack of the proprietary HDD that sit on top of the unit. I found Best Buy selling kits from some USD 70~120 plus tax. Disk sizes from 20~60GB.
Ooof! I'll update on which of these units work this week when hopefully they arrive at my doorstep.
UPDATE: 2009-01-12 @ 4PM PST