Xbox 360 experience is a great improvement, Sony fumbles

Microsoft deserves a pat on the back for pushing out an excellent update to the XBox experience last night. The svelte update was surprisingly quick – taking no more than a few minutes to complete. Watching the opening welcome screen reaffirmed my belief that Xbox team should really give more input concerning the OS side of Microsoft.

Netflix streaming sans PC

Not too long ago, Netflix streaming was limited to PC’s. I shrugged that feature of Netflix off considering a) the movie selection was mediocre at best, and b) I didn’t feel it was worth firing up VMware Fusion or Boot Camp. A few weeks ago, the clouds opened and instant streaming was made available to Mac users (Silverlight required). Finally. Shortly thereafter, the Xbox update rolls through and you no longer need a computer to stream, all you need is your game console.

The integration comes by way of a Netflix "game" download. Once installed, you associate your Xbox with your Netflix account using a unique code submitted to Netflix activation. Once completed, any movies in your Watch Instantly queue are displayed on your television. I was surprised at how quickly movies loaded and began playing. I can’t wait for HD content.

Clouds overhead

Those clouds that cleared when Netflix provided streaming support for both PC & Mac users started rolling back in after the Xbox update. Sony had to rain on the parade. Chalk it up to the rivalry between the PS3 and Xbox, politics, or simple playground bitterness. Sony knew Netflix streaming support for the Xbox was on the way, why wait until after the rollout to request Sony / Columbia Pictures be unavailable on the Xbox? Sony, until you fix your slow as molasses content delivery network, support third party services directly on the console, and fix your sad browser, your living room supremacy will struggle to see the light of day.

Noted

Microsoft, please include a disk properties info panel so we know how much HDD space we’re going to sacrifice installing a game to disk. Kevin found out Call of Duty, World at War required roughly 5 GB. Calculating disk usage now means checking your HDD stats before and immediately after a install.

If you are an existing Xbox user – yay or nay to the current update? If you are not an existing Xbox owner, are you getting the itch to drop some coin a new system? If you are an existing Netflix customer, are you looking at an Xbox if you don’t already have one?

Discuss - 17 Comments

  1. Blaze says:

    Yay from me!
    Eventhough Netflix streaming is US only (and I live in Norway) , I still think the NXE is awesome. Can’t wait to see what it will bring in the future.

  2. Andre says:

    Yay from me. Netflix can go cut itself for all I care (Canadian) and I think Avatars are absolutely horrible, but the new interface looks nice and for the most part works well.

  3. Michael Lacy says:

    So far I can’t tell if the new navigation tree will be a plus for me or not. I am still having a problem finding a few items. But I will chalk that up to the fact that I never knew where these things were in the first place. Like say a theme, but the NXE is making me want to apply a theme for the first time. The big plus to me is it’s just more visually appealing.

    Love the party system. I was able to play the left for dead demo with my brother and two other people. We chat’d before the game during and after where we broke off into groups of twos and played madden. It Kind of Rocks.

    Really I hate to say it but I got Netflix so I could rent the obscure things that I couldn’t find and download online. Netflix streaming has made me upgrade from the basic plan of 4.99 (that was working very well for me) to the 8.99 just so I can keep my documentary watching game tight. So far I have had no issues. Video looks better than downloaded divx files.

    The NXE is amazing because of what it represents and the future that could be available for net devices. A successful game console in its prime can be reinvented, a music player that has be left behind can become updated and be relevant again. It’s very cool.

  4. Mark says:

    I love the new update, although my router gave the xbox a new IP afterward so i had to add the new IP to my DMZ on the router or I couldn’t talk to my friends via chat or party.

    Other than that minor glitch, I’m really liking the new dashboard as well as the netflix streaming.

  5. Tommy says:

    It is one of the biggest improvements MS could of made and as you said went off mostly hitch free. The only problem I have with it is that it sometimes lags for me, and the customisation with the Avatars is a bit abysmal at the moment. Other than that, it’s very slick. Even the xbox guide is a big improvement over the way it was.

  6. Neil says:

    It sounds ace; I’m ridiculously behind on updating my 360 and using Live (I must have been dropped to silver level by now) but this post has tempted me to try out the update, especially since there’s an interface upgrade. Presumably I won’t be able to get Netflix here in the UK, though.

    Any recommendations for new must-download demos?

  7. Kevinwin says:

    Yay for sure. Not sure how the HD took yp 5gb since the dvd is only 4.7 right? All I know is that I went from 10.5gb to 4.2gb after installing cod:waw =\

    other than that.. the NXE has been great. The new Ui is smooth and hasn’t lagged at all. Streaming videos and movies via Netflixs have been very simple to do.

    Recommendations for demos.. Portal, Mega Man 9, Dead Space and even left for dead are funnn

  8. Jeff says:

    The 360 uses DVD-9 format discs, which can hold just under 8 gigs. I’d imagine that most games are going to average around that 5 gig mark.

    As for the update: I’m really impressed. I went ahead and signed up for Netflix specifically because of it, and when I went to watch Eraserhead late Tuesday night and it streamed in HD I was totally sold.

  9. Derek says:

    @Andre: I wouldn’t go so far as to say the avatar feature is horrible. I actually prefer it a little more than the characters that can be customized on the Wii. While wasting away some time customizing my Xbox avatar, I realized that I prefer an actual controller that requires the use of my thumbs over having to flick my wrist around with a Wiimote.

    @Michael: I was in the same boat. I didn’t know where many of the options panes were to begin with. It only took a few minutes to adjust to the new UI though. Similar to what I’ve read on some other sites, one of the downsides to the new interface is chalked up to confusing advertisements. You don’t know if you’re selecting something meant to be an advertisement or not. I’ve done it a couple of times already.

    @Tommy: Definitely some networks issues. Blame to be pointed [probably] on the increased usage during the release of the update. If you want to know what real connectivity issues are for a game console, fire up a PS3.

    Regarding the new option to download games to disk. I understand that the reason is to reduce load times and increase in game performance. I know there are a slew of licensing and piracy issues, but I REALLY would have liked a console that could store an entire game for play without requiring the disk be in the drive. I’m super lazy when it comes to living room entertainment. If I want to swap games (real games, not the arcade ones), it would be really convenient to be able to switch from COD:WAW to Orange Box Portal without getting up. +1 for the PS3 which allows for some full title game storage on the HDD. Oh, but -1000 for bitching about licensing and requesting movies be unavailable for Netflix / Xbox users.

  10. Jass says:

    No! Xbox Fumbles !

  11. Squidly1 says:

    Hope you realize that the politics between PS3 and X360 had nothing to do with the Netflix fumble. It was a rights issue between Netflix and Sony – not the M$ and $ony rivalry that caused a temporary lack of Sony content. You can now freely stream Sony titles on your X360 Netflix appliance. W00t w00t!

  12. Paul says:

    Great update Xbox!! I’m loving it.

    You can also run connect60 on your mac to stream media to the Xbox360. Its brilliant.

    http://www.nullriver.com/products/connect360

  13. Derek says:

    I am a huge fan of Nullriver software. Actually using it for both the Xbox and PS3.

  14. joel says:

    i have to fight for my PS3, check out this post I wrote today on setting up a Linux based media server for PS3 & xbox 360.

    http://www.verticalsoul.com/2008/12/playstation-media-server/

    • Derek says:

      Can you dual boot the PS3? Or does installing Linux overwrite the system replacing the standard PS3 OS effecting game / movie playback?

  15. joel says:

    It indeed is possible, you have to get a Sony provided boot loader but it can and has been done. Of course my article was about having a separate Linux server host the music, videos and images and stream it to the PS3/box, therefore not interfering with the OS at all but… you have sparked a good project…

  16. dylan says:

    ok so this is pretty cool BUT THERE IS NO GOOD MOVIES BESIDES THE OFFICE