It's been in the news enough to say it's official...
August 8th Gamestop's getting a announcement from
M$ - most likely related to the 360 price drop.
August 12th (sunday paper) CircuitCity, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart
and the rest are dropping the Premium to $349.99, the Elite to
$449.99. The Core system appears to be axed by M$ - as BestBuy has said they won't be restocking them.
Also the more important part - CircuitCity's ad for this week (meaning it ends Sat 4th) lists all Live Acc's get $20 off when you pick up 2 that are $19.99 or over. This particularly matters for the Live 1600 point cards - figuring you can then get 3200 points for about $21 after tax. CircuitCity is really almost completely out of the cards across the nation - so the best bet is to get the Sunday ad and go to a BestBuy and do a price match. I did this myself and it worked better than going to CC. BestBuy's site is also not correct about the amount of stock - as I went to a store that listed they had none.. and there were at least 4 - 1600 point cards around (not after I got done ^_^ ).
A couple other things to note:
Preorder Halo 3 (any version) online at BestBuy now and get another 1600 point card for $5. You can go and pick up the point card now and get the game on Sept 25th. So you'd end up with 4800 points for about $26 - far cheaper than a single 4000 point card.
Also - if you do plan to get a console or have one, M$ has extended your warrenty, you'll need to look the details up.
For new consoles, the sweet spot is any version made in July of this year or later as those have the newer chipsets, epoxy fix, and heatsinks that stop the overheating and failure of the boxes. The Elite's seem to be the main ones showing up right now from July - as the retail chains have to go through their stock of Premiums before the new consoles will appear. There has been some success of people getting BestBuy or Wal-Mart employees to check their stock and finding a new shipment of July units.
The way to figure out if it's a July unit is to lift up the back flap on the box and look inside for a manufacturing date.