Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Initial Impressions of the NXE

The NXE, the New Xbox Experience. This was Microsoft's fall update to the Xbox 360 dashboard. The old dashboard did it's job, but it was slow, clunky, and had much wasted space and inefficiencies.

This is by no means a complete review; Kevin or I will do one of those later, but for now, here are some brief thoughts.


Overall Layout
Much faster, much sleeker, and much better organized. The old 'blades' were slow loading, and poorly organized. These are quick and efficient. Bravo Microsoft.

Additionally, the menu which appears when you hit the Xbox button the controller has also been updated, and appears much faster, as everything else does.  It's been updated with much more useful information.

Avatars
Whoopidy-doo. Xbox decided they wanted their own Miis. They did a decent job, but who cares. I haven't done anything other than make mine (couldn't find an image, but my tag is Will and Beyond). This could develop into something cool, but I have my doubts.


Streaming Netflix
Watching Netflix movies on the 360 is an excellent addition, and a step closer to making this a more complete media center. I used to have Netflix, but I unsubscribed once I had built up a big backlog of movies to watch. (Not that I was somehow archiving them outside of the strict confines of the law...) Today I resubscribed, because their Watch Instantly feature allows unlimited streaming of movies (a more limited selection, and temporarily even more so) when you have their $8.99/month plan or higher.

The setup is super simple. Download the small program, then you'll need to connect to your Netflix account. That entails logging into your Netflix account on the computer, and inputting a code which the Netflix program will display. Very simple. You then setup an 'Instant Queue' (which is separate from your regular queue, though it works the same way).

Once your queue is setup, you just open the program on the 360, and you have a very sleek interface (common theme with this dashboard upgrade) which allows you to browse through your queue and see info, etc. I watched the first half of L.A. Confidential (then something went wrong...) and then all of Empire Records. No complaints at all. There was an interruption once when my internet slowed down, but it resumed just fine.

Game Installation
One of the problems on the 360 is that the disc drive is very loud, and if my volume's not up loud enough to drown it out, I get worried it's going to burn out, or eat my disc.  Installing a game on the hard disk eliminates this problem.

It doesn't reduce load times noticably, and you still have to have the disc in the drive (to verify ownership), but it's nice and silent.  The installations take around 6GB, so unless you have an Elite (60GB) you can probably only keep one game installed at once (on the 20GB Pro drives), so this won't be as great for you polygamous gamers.


Overall: Many thumbs up. Kotaku and Gizmodo agree.

Photo: X3F
Photo: Netflix

Godspeed.

7 comments:

Richard R. said...

I don't have an Xbox360 but I was very happy when I heard about NXE. Whenever I played an Xbox360 game at my friend's house before NXE, I was super confused about the layout.

If NXE moves and looks as good as you say it does, then I think the Wii now has the worst home interface of all the next-gen systems (why doesn't a GC controller work with the interface yet!?). PS3's layout is minimalist but it is mega easy to find whatever you need, especially after they fixed the Playstation Store.

I don't give a damn about avatars either; I forgot about Miis a couple of months after I had a Wii.

ultima301 said...

I don't really see the point of a complete review, you've said pretty much everything there needs to be said, not to mention there's not much need to review something that gets pushed out to everyone free anyway.

But I definitely love the new interface. What I like about avatars is how you can use them in your gamer picture - it's much more refreshing to see my friends list populated with virtual representations of my friends rather than the same 10-12 lame gamer pictures that you don't have to pay for.

The best part is definitely the mini-blades interface when you press the guide button. It's so compressed, zippy, and functional. It's like the old interface without the clutter, without the ads, and with even more content.

All around it's faster and better. My only complaint is on the home screen your currently selected item is on the far left, so it's hard to tell if you're at the beginning of a list and what the previous items on the list were if you were scrolling through something. All I need now is a bigger HDD so I can install some games...

Will said...

@Richard:
The Wii interface isn't bad; it fits the system well in its simplicity. I suppose it's 3rd best, therefore the worst, but not bad nonetheless.

@Kevin:
Hmm, I suppose you're right. Anyway, I opted to keep my gamerpicture as not my XMii, but I agree it's nice to see some variety.

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