I have heard pretty notorious issues with the x-box 360's... most notably the red ring of death.
What I want to know is does anyone know where the most reliable kind are?
I want an x-box 360 but I don't feel like tossing my money away if it breaks half a year later.
On that note is there a date or approximate date for the next line of consoles? perhaps it would be better to wait for a playstation 4 or something at this point...
I'm thinking refurbished ones might be best... they need to be tested before they are sold right?
The oldest models are the least reliable. The newest slim models are the least RROD prone, but the problem still exists. The RROD is just something you have to live with if you get an Xbox. That console was just badly designed and cost cutting measures led to the thing not being cooled properly, leading to hardware failures after a while. I would avoid the refurbished models, as they tend to be the older Xboxes, and any fixes they make are temporary at best, eventually the console will fail again.
Aside from the Wii U that is coming out at the end of this year, the next console generation is going to be Fall/Winter 2013 at the earliest, as nothing concrete has been announced from Sony and Microsoft. If you really want a current console now, you might as well get one, as the next generation is still probably 18 months off. The PS3 is another option, assuming you aren't chomping at the bit for Xbox 360 exclusive titles.
There was a lot of issues up until 2009. The Xbox 360 Slim has a different design, therefore possibly have no more issues. But it now has a 1 year warranty (formerly 3 years). Refurbished ones usually gets fixed. But if it fails, make sure you still have some type of warranty.
There is talks of the Xbox 720 coming out 2013 and possibly PS4 2014.
As far as I know the new slim model is RROD proof. The RROD problem comes from bad coolong and vibration wich breaks the solder holding the GPU on the mobo. Although there are many claming that they can fix it, I wouldn't under any circumstances trust a refurbished xbox 360. If you wnat to get one, get a new one so you can RMA it if anything goes bad.
I have a second generation model which I got in early 2000, I haven't had any problems with it yet!
Just be sure to place it somewhere that it can be well cooled (not inside a closed cabinet or near a heater etc.)