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  • NXE First Impressions

    Posted on November 19th, 2008 Pabel No comments

    Here are some first impressions of the NXE after coming home and updating my console.

    • Took 5 minutes to download the update and restart my box.  I was very impressed/happy as I was expecting it to drag on for a bit.
    • Really like the avatar “starting point.”  Basically, it drops a bunch on your screen that you can work with as a template.  If you don’t see any you like, you just ask for more and another random batch appears.  Overall, there’s a pretty good amount of customization available.  It’s not EA’s Tiger Face, but it’s more than what you get on the Wii (even though that’s the original that M$ is copying).
    • Not sure why, but I was pretty pumped that you could put a wedding ring on your avatar.
    • There’s a cool little extra of being able to pose your avatar for your gamer pic.  Really handy if like me you were going for the looking off far in the distance shot.
    • I came in wondering if themes/backgrounds I purchased before would still work.  Glad to say that they do and are decently incorporated (i.e. you can still see them).  I’m still able to see my Florida Gator paraphanelia on my Dashboard so that’s always good.
    • Noticed that whenever you pop-in a game, a new pop-up comes up telling you how many of your friends are playing that same game.
    • Getting around the UI is an absolute breeze.  The information is much better organized and to me it’s a huge upgrade from the previous blade system.  I have zero complaints about it.

    Now the piece I was eagerly anticipating…..NetFlix streaming.  Overall, I thought it was great.  Only had one real complaint.  Here’s the rundown of my impressions in bullet points.  Sorry for the lack of a thought out review, the Regional Manager just isn’t paying what he used to.  Not to mention, he’s out of the office right now….

    • Activating was very simple.  First you download the NetFlix module via LIVE and then when done, you click it.  On initial setup it gives you an activation code.  You then go to www.netflix.com/activate, log in, and enter the code.  About 2 seconds after you submit, your 360 responds and displays your entire instant watch movie queue.  Very quick and painless.
    • Very impressed with the queue set-up.  It mimics the overall NXE look and feel very well and when you select a particular movie or tv show series in your queue, you have the ability to rate it, remove it from your queue, read actor/director/movie details, and get a quick summary.  Very slick.
    • Tested out the real-time updates of the queue and it was perfect.  About 5-10 seconds after I added a movie to my queue via the website, it popped up and automatically scrolled to it on the 360.  Which leads to my one complaint….
    • You are not able to browse the available instant watch titles from your Xbox.  The only way to peruse the instant watch library and add to your queue is via the NetFlix website.  The only queue functionality the 360 gives you is the ability to remove stuff from your queue.  Luckily, I had my iPhone with NetFlix app and/or full web browser handy so I could do it all from the couch.  Take that Storm-watchers.

    Decided to test the movie/show viewing with 30 Rock which I’ve never seen before.  Side note, that’s a great show.  I watched 3 episodes before I looked up and realized what had happened.  Anyway…

    • With a solid wireless internet connection, I began watching the first episode in HD after about 1 minute of buffering.  Very impressive as it was actually HD quality similar to what you’d get off your cable/satellite box.
    • A little bit into the show, it paused and hung, and then a screen came up saying that my connection had slowed and that playback was being adjusted.  After about 15-20 seconds, it picked up a few seconds before when it had paused and the signal was then in SD.  Still solid and very enjoyable.  I liked that it picked up where it left off and didn’t leave me hanging for a while trying to recapture the HD glory.  I will, however, definitely be upgrading my router.
    • During one of the episodes, my connection got very weak and it did the whole playback adjustment again.  This time it went from SD to YouTube video quality.  Clearly not ideal for movie buffs, but for watching a sitcom, I didn’t really care.
    • It really all comes down to your bandwidth and wireless connection (if that’s how you roll).  I got HD whenever I was at 3-4 bars, SD at 2-3, and YouTube quality at 1.  Overall, I was impressed with the streaming and only had it hiccup twice in an hour and a half.
    • Cool feature for TV Show seasons: it shows which episodes you’ve watched and how far in you got.  I imagine it does the same thing for movies if you have to stop watching for whatever reason, I just didn’t get an opportunity to test it out.

    Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the NXE.  The new interface is slick, it’s easier to get around, and I LOVE the NetFlix piece.  Well done Microsoft, especially since you aren’t charging me one extra penny.

     

    2 responses to “NXE First Impressions” RSS icon

    • Great initial review. I can’t wait to get NXE loaded up on Friday (when I get home). Your complaint about having to use Netflix.com to manage your queue, is something that I had expected would happen. It reminds me of the age old (or Xbox 360 old) question of, “where the heck is our browser on the dashboard?” I’ve got to think it’s only a quick NXE update away. C’mon, it’s on the Wii and PS3. Hell, it’s on the Dreamcast.

    • Oh, and about the Netflix on iPhone…very cool!

      For BlackBerry users, don’t sweat the iPhone fanboy. You can get “SmartFlicks: Netflix on BlackBerry” right here: http://lab.pyxismobile.com/2008/10/smartflicks-net.html

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