Wow, the Elite does not sound all that reliable either. M$ is shooting themselves in the foot by not ensuring there's good quality control beforehand. Guess that's why they upped the warranty to 3 yrs!?
The only problem is that the RROD epidemic is the result of a design flaw, not poor quality control. I had a new, post-"we fixed it"-announcement console RROD on me after 5 hours. Although MS hasn't come out and said exactly what has changed, it is widely believed that they added a second heat sink to the GPU (which is located directly beneath the DVD drive, severely restricting the airflow over it) and use extra epoxy on the GPU to prevent it from separating from the motherboard (which flexes as the system gets hot). To me these sound like band-aid "fixes" at best.
It's not an elite, but I just bought a Premium/"Go Pro" holiday bundle that came with Forza Motorsport 2 and Marvel Utlimate Alliance and unfortunately it has a Hitachi drive and a manufacturing date of some time in July.
Strikes me funny. If everyone is returning their xbox360's cuz it isn't a Falcon ... what's the stores going to do with all those returns?
You can pop up a little part of the box and see the manufacturing date on the XBOX 360 and it's serial number before you purchase your 360, if that means anything.
Also... if there's a problem, the console has to be returned to Microsoft, not the store where you bought it from and they just send you a refurbished one that's probably older and will give out in a few weeks.
So it's best to check for Falcon before you buy by looking at the team number and the manufacturing date... you just can't do the flashlight thing.
You also have a better chance of getting a Falcon if the side of the box says "Team FDOU" and the lot number is 737 or higher. It seems like most of the Canadian stores have "Team CSON". Some CSON's have been found to be Falcon's but it seems FDOU has better odds.