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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.

  • November Obsessions Update

    Posted on November 19th, 2008 Shawn No comments

    Continuing on our blast of culminating obsessions this month, here’s the update.

    • November 4 – Research In Motion & AT&T released the BlackBerry Bold.  Although it was released several months late, it’s by far the nicest BlackBerry to date…soon to be overshadowed by the Storm.
    • November 6 – Rock Band 2 Bonus DLC was released with little fanfare since it comtained mostly unknown artists and unknown songs.  But, heck, 20 free songs is 20 free songs.
    • November 18 – The weekly blast of Rock Band DLC came out.
    • November 19 – Microsoft will officially released the New Xbox Experience upon the masses (i.e. 14 million Xbox Live subscribers).  This will gives a beautiful update the Xbox 360 dashboard, bring on cool avatars, lot’s of social activities, and the biggie….Netflix streaming capabilities.
    • November 21 – Research In Motion & Verizon Wireless will release the most discussed BlackBerry of the year, the BlackBerry Storm.  This is the first BlackBerry with full touchscreen and amazing media capabilities.  It’s going to give AT&T and the iPhone some serious competition.
    • November 21 – I will be modifying my new (to me) Roland electronic drum kit to work with my Xbox 360 and Rock Band 2.  This will be fun, and the parts are on their way to at my house.  Of course, I need to buy and learn how to use a soldering iron.  That’s a scary thought.
    • November 23 – Best Buy will exclusively release the highly anticipated Guns N’ Roses album Chinese Democracy, which is 15 years in the making.  I’ve seen that soon iTunes will also pick it up.  Hopefully, We will now have it in our store (see the ad to the right).

    Really, it’s going to be a crazy month of new stuff.  Of course, the obsessions don’t end there.  We will be using, abusing, and reviewing everything once we get our hands on it all.

    On the unofficial list, here are some other things coming up.

    • I will officially put the nail in the coffin “My Treo Obsession”.  This was the original title of this blog, and my whole reason for starting this thing up a couple years ago.  You can expect a big article in the next week or two, where I will officially retire both the Treo 650 and 700p, and hand them over to my children to destroy use as toys.
  • NetFlix NXE Feature is Feared

    Posted on November 19th, 2008 Pabel No comments

    In what is clearly a throwback to high school pettiness, it looks like Sony has blocked some of their (or their subsidiaries) moviews from streaming to the Xbox 360.

    “Sony Pictures Home Entertainment subsidiary Columbia Pictures, has flicked previously available titles like Superbad, Bad Boys, and We Own the Night over to “Not available on Xbox” status.”

    While I would categorize this as mildly annoying to movie buffs, I think this speaks volumes about what Sony thinks of the NXE.  While we’ll go into more detail with our NXE Full Review, this could be a sign that the NXE really might begin to turn the console competition into the fight to be the home entertainment center hub.  This was highly touted when this generation first began, but is only now starting to come to fruition w/ the release of NXE and Sony’s little ‘Home’ experiment.

    Personally, I’m of the opinion NetFlix streaming is the biggest piece of news/functionaly in the NXE, and I see Sony’s actions as evidence of their similarly held view.

    What do you think?

  • NXE is up and running on Xbox.com

    Posted on November 19th, 2008 Shawn 1 comment

    I really need to get some sleep.  I just got into my Xbox.com account, and noticed a couple new things.

    • My Gamertag image is now replaced with a generic green Xbox image.  Looks like I have to update my GT or create an avatar.
    • There’s a new “My Account” link, which easily organizes a lot of my account/profile info.
    • Now, the good stuff…the Marketplace Home is now available.  I just checked on Rock Band 2, and you can now purchase DLC from Xbox.com, to be downloaded to your 360 when you power it on.
  • Xbox.com | Page unavailable

    Posted on November 19th, 2008 Shawn No comments

    I’m traveling this week, so have to follow the Xbox updates via Xbox.com.  I just logged into my account, and click the link to View Messages.  I get this lovely “Sorry…” message.

    What’s the deal?  I know today is NXE day for the masses.  Is this just some last minute Microsoft updates while (hopefully) everyone is sleeping?  I hope so.  Of course, I’m one of the few (I guess) who isn’t sleeping at 2:00 AM EST.

  • Angry at Verizon’s Private Sale Scam? You’re Not Alone

    Posted on November 18th, 2008 Shawn No comments

    Apparently, I’m not alone in my frustration with Verizon Wireless and their supposed Private Sale for the BlackBerry Storm (see post from yesterday).

    I just did a cursory check of the interwebs, and found more than I can list. Instead of re-posting, here’s a few links that relate.

    http://www.rimarkable.com

    http://gizmodo.com

    http://www.boygeniusreport.com

    There are many more like this, but you get the point.  So, I’ve seen one commenter as pissed as I am at Verizon.  How does this effect you?

  • Lips microphone not cross-compatible

    Posted on November 17th, 2008 Shawn No comments

    Hey everyone.  I just heard word (a total bummer too) that the wireless mics included with the game Lips (released tomorrow for Xbox 360) will NOT be compatible with any other game at launch.

    I’m holding out hope that there will be some update to use them on Rock Band soon.  But, wanted to pass the word on to you as soon as I heard it.

    Here’s a quote from an MTV article (thanks RockGamer):

    During a hotel demo of “Lips,” creator Keiichi Yano of Inis told MTV Multiplayer his wireless, accelerometer-enhanced microphone will only work with “Lips” at launch.

  • Verizon Wireless Private Sale…scam

    Posted on November 17th, 2008 Shawn 4 comments

    I’m a bit frustrated at the moment with Verizon Wireless (VZW) and their attempt to early promote the BlackBerry Storm.  Read my earlier posts about this private sale mailer.  The mailed advertisement is individually addressed (with my cell number on it) and states a specific VZW store to visit between November 17 – 21.  On the front of the mailing is the exclusive BlackBerry Storm.  Inside the ad are four other phones that are listed with “special” private sale pricing.

    The store with my invite is the Circuit City in Burlington, MA.  I went this morning, and waited out front early, since they open at 10:00 AM.  Once they opened, I walked to the VZW counter and asked the rep for a demo of the Storm.  He told me they won’t be available for sales before Black Friday, and there were none in stock today.

    I showed him my private sale mailing, and it was the first he has seen or heard of it.  (That’s the same thing I heard yesterday at the VZW store in Nashua, NH).  He was also shocked at the nice photo of the Storm on the inside, said “That’s the best picture of the phone I have seen so far”.  That’s all he had for me.  Suggested I check back on Friday, but couldn’t offer me anything else.  No hands-on.  No pre-order.  He also told me the pricing for the four other phones was not special, but it was the same everyday price that is currently offered.  I’m extremely frustrated at the moment at this VZW ad, which is looking more and more like some false advertising.

    I also checked this morning at the VZW store in the Burlington Mall, “the local flagship store”, and they also had no idea when the phone would arrive.

    When I got home, I dialed the 800 number that is on the mailing (which I know is the actual VZW customer service number).  Was on hold for 10 minutes, and hung up.  Tried again an hour later, got a message “We are experiencing technical difficulties.  Please call again later.”

    So, some background here.  I have been bouncing back and forth between leaving VZW for AT&T and getting the BlackBerry Bold.  If the Bold came out earlier in the year, like it was planned, I’d have gotten it months ago.  But, with the Storm release date so close to the Bold’s, I’d like to have hands on both before making my decision.

    After this experience, I’m quite disappointed in VZW’s marketing.  Time was wasted today, as I had hoped to get my hands on the new device.  And there looks to be no device shipped yet.  I expect it to arrive in some stores today (but I’m just speculating).  I’ll be tied up with work the next few days, and won’t have a chance to get back to a VZW store before Friday (the supposed official launch day for the public).

    I do plan on calling the VZW 800 number again and talking with a manager about this poor advertisement, and possibly false advertisement.  I’ll keep you posted.

  • BlackBerry Storm VIP Event

    Posted on November 16th, 2008 Shawn No comments

    Some of you have received a mailing from Verizon for a VIP event from November 17 -21 at specific Verizon Wireless (VZW) stores.  If you are like me, you want to get your hands on a Storm before everyone else.  Just a warning, before you run to your local store today (or Monday morning), give them a call.

    I was just at the VZW store in Nashua, NH.  The employees there (4 that I talked with) said the first they heard about the mailings and VIP event was from a customer yesterday.  They confirmed with me that their store currently has no Storm’s in stock and they only receive shipments once a week…Monday afternoons.

    As I was asking the question, a customer standing next to me, also mentioned that she received the VIP invite.  Another person walked into the store as I was leaving and asked the same question.  Scary that so many buyers are ready for the Storm, and a store full of VZW employees are totally in the dark.

    If the Nashua store is indication of the greater VZW store population, it’s very likely that your local VZW store will not be opening early on Monday morning for the VIP event.  More importantly, it’s quite likely that your store will not have any Storm’s in stock early in the day…even to look at.

    We all know that they do not go on sale until Friday, but many are sure hoping to get a feel of this thing…me included.

    For you, our loyal readers, I will be at my local VZW store when the doors open tomorrow morning (with my VIP invite in hand), hoping to be the first in my area to smudge the screen on a Storm.  Though, I warn you to call ahead…since today’s visit makes me think this event will kick off sans it’s headlining act.

  • Chinese Democracy Available Here!

    Posted on November 14th, 2008 Shawn No comments


    Click here for the Best Buy Homepage
    I’m very excited to announce that we have come to an agreement with BestBuy.com to extend Best Buy’s exclusive offer of the Guns N’ Roses album Chinese Democracy from our blog at My Gadget, Game & Gizmo Obsession (powered by blog.javadevelop.com).  As many of us have been discussing the album here at our site, I’m very excited to now offer you the CD and LP available through links on our blog.

    If you are planning on picking up the CD or vinyl, please consider buying through us and our new relationship with BestBuy.com. All transactions will go through BestBuy.com. I know, I know, you can easily type the BestBuy URL in and buy it that way…but everything you buy through our blog, helps make this community stronger. Think of it as you, helping me, helping you. 🙂 Thanks.

    Click here for the CD at $11.99:BestBuy.com Re-Direct Link
    Click here for the LP $19.99:

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