If you have fired up your Xbox 360 today and have it connected to the internet, whether you have a Silver or Gold subscription, you were prompted with a system update that proceeded to download the New Xbox Experience. There has been a ton of hype since the announcement at E3 about the newest dashboard, but does the update live up to expectations, or is it just a new cover with the same old tricks? Well after some hands-on time with the new dashboard, we here at TGR want to clear it up for you with a breakdown of some of the best and worst aspects of the New Experience, and give you our final thoughts on whether the wait was worth it.
When I fired up my Xbox 360 this morning I was delighted to see the new update come through for the New Experience. After a moderate wait and installation I was in. With all of the NXE’s shiny new menus and options, I could hardly contain myself. After digging around I found some things that I really liked and other I didn’t, but nonetheless it was here. Let’s jump in and see what is good and bad about the New Xbox Experience.
1. Netflix Service, streaming live movies on you 360
While many Xbox owners out there are not Netflix subscribers, I would like to recommend you at least give this a chance. I was not a subscriber before this morning, but after digging around on Netflix a bit and looking at the many movies that I could stream straight to my TV made it at least worth the trial. When you sign up you can select any plan you choose, but unless you are one who watches a ton of movies the minimum $8.99 subscription will do you just fine. This allows you to have 1 movie out at a time via mail and stream as many movies as you want to your Xbox or computer.
The service works really well. Netflix will determine your connection speed to adjust your video quality (lower speed, lower quality), which prevents hiccups in your viewing experience. It is easy to use and if you see yourself not using the service, you have 2 weeks to cancel without being charged a cent. If you have a credit card/bank card, then give it a try, once you do, the $8.99 will seem like chump change.
2. Game Installs
One thing that I couldn’t wait to try was installing one of my games on to my hard drive to see if all of the hype was true about the system being quieter. As we all know when you put a disk in to play on your 360, it sounds like a mother ship ready to blast off to outer space. I am here to tell you that everything said about the quieter system is true.
I had the chance to install Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, and after getting through the load process, I went on to play. The system stayed as quiet as it would if you were simply sitting at your dashboard. This is a big step in the competition to out-feature the PlayStation 3, and the nicest thing about the 360 install is that it gives you a choice. You don’t have to install any games if you don’t choose to, but doing so with your favorite/most played games will give your system a much needed rest during those long gaming sessions.
3. Avatars Customization
When you first start up the New Experience you are prompted to create your avatar. There has been a lot of talk about these virtual simulations of real people, especially pertaining to their resemblance to Nintendo’s Miis. Well it may seem like that, but the options that the NXE gives you are actually quite in-depth.
The system in which you create your avatar is very intricate. This isn’t just some cheap customization tool that gives you two options; it actually has a ton of different choices for facial features, hair, skin, clothes, and things that make you kind of enjoy creating your virtual you.
1. Lack of tutorial Video
I would think that even those who like to dig through and find all the new features (like me) would find a short tutorial video helpful. Some people may skip over it, sure, but for some this could be the difference between really liking the new experience and just getting downright frustrated with it.
2. Having to load Netflix movies from your computer
When you go to watch your streamed movies from your new or existing Netflix account on your 360, one thing that is a tad bit frustrating is that you can’t choose the movies you want to watch straight from your 360. When getting the service I thought that the 360 would connect to Netflix and give you the chance to choose your movies straight from there.
Unfortunately that is not the case. To watch movies on your 360 you must go into your account on your computer and add movies to your instant watch queue, then go to your 360 and choose the movie you want to watch. The process is not that difficult, but it is a bit more cumbersome than expected.
3. No Browser and No Primetime
In the weeks leading up to the launch of the New Experience, we learned that Primetime would be shelved for the time being. It was disappointing news that the service would not be available to allow you to play your favorite game shows with your friends and compete for prizes. That news did make me hang my head a bit, and even though we knew it wouldn’t be there, some still reserved hope that Microsoft would surprise us. That was not the case.
The other rumors that had been swirling were that there may be a hidden gem in your new dashboard, in the form of an internet browser. All those rumors turned out to be false; no, there is no Internet browser. Whether you pay for it on the Wii or get it for free on the PS3, both systems at least give you the chance to surf the web. The computer giant Microsoft still falls short in this area, which is very disappointing for fans.
Well there you have it, some of the best and worst of the new dashboard. From what I can see so far, I like the options the new dashboard offers users, but until I see the Primetime service, which was one of its major selling points, I will reserve the right to not pass a final judgment. If you haven’t downloaded it yet and are living in the past, give the dashboard a try. I don’t think you will be disappointed with it. There are a lot of good additions included in the NXE, and although some aspects are a bit of a pain, the good outweigh the bad.