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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.

  • 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?

  • November Rain (When It Rains, It Pours)

    Posted on November 6th, 2008 Shawn No comments

    This is not necessarily about what you think…well, sorta.  I just took a look at recent posts, and realized…WOW, there’s a lot going on in November.  Let’s take a quick look.

    • Rock Band 2 to get 20 bonus tracks for download.  This is supposed to be released this week, still not out.  In the DLC world, that’s ~$20-40 worth of songs to play, for no additional cost.  Very cool, can’t wait to get this playing.
    • BlackBerry Bold and Storm both released in the U.S.  We know the Bold came out this week, and the Storm doesn’t have an official date yet.  It’s likely we will see both of these in November.
    • Guns N’ Roses Chinese Democracy get’s released.  The album 16 years in the making is coming to Best Buy exclusively on November 23.
    • Xbox Live update on November 19, known as the New Xbox Experience (NXE).  Lot’s of cool updates, for Xbox 360 users. Avatars, online parties/playing, and the biggie…Netflix streaming.  The best part, NXE is free and the online features are included to Xbox Live subscribers.
    • Netflix, Starz, and lot’s of network shows straming via Xbox 360 (see above).  This piece only requires the $9 per month Netflix fee.
    • Rock Band AC/DC released in Wal-Mart.  This came out early this week.  We aren’t rushing to get this, but will at some point. possibly when we see it on clearance.
    • Not previously mentioned, but I built a Roland electronic drum kit this month to play Rock Band.  I still need to modify the kit to make it work with the game.  Not sure this will be complete in November.

    For me, the instant pick ups are: Storm, Rock Band DLC, NXE and GNR album.  Going to be a busy month for the obsessions. What about your obsessions?  What would you add?

  • NXE is Getting NetFlix in HD

    Posted on October 29th, 2008 Pabel No comments

    It’s been officially announced that the first streaming HD content from NetFlix will be on the NXE coming to the 360 in mid-November.  This is huge because HD content from NetFlix isn’t available through their PC based streaming or through the set-top Roku player that supports NetFlix streaming.

    This is a huge coup for the 360 crowd, and I’m not exactly sure how we scored it.  Regardless, this makes one of the key features of the NXE even better.  So to tally it all up, if you have Xbox live and NetFlix subscriptions, you get access to all the NetFlix streaming content, some in HD, and access to StarZ programming which NetFlix recently announced they’ll be getting.  It’s been mentioned before, but this is huge, especially since you won’t have to hand over one extra red cent.

    Am I the only one that cares about this? Is this a big deal to any other Xbox users out there?

  • Netflix On-Demand Coming to Xbox 360, November 19

    Posted on October 24th, 2008 Shawn 1 comment

    The date is announced for The New Xbox Experience (NXE), which has lot’s of goodness for the Xbox 360 users out there. For me, the biggest item is that Netflix On-Demand service (currently available to Netflix subscribers), which was previously only available on computers, will now be able to

    stream movies, TV and Starz programs right to your Xbox 360 (i.e. to your T.V.). Very cool, I know.

    Most of us reading this already know this great news. Now, we get some more detailed screen shots, thanks to an announcement from Major Nelson from Xbox Live.

  • NXE Fanboy Time?

    Posted on October 2nd, 2008 Pabel No comments

    Ok, so normally I don’t gush over big companies looking out for the little guy, but today is an exception.  While I haven’t looked into every single new feature coming, one particular piece of the “New Xbox Experience” (NXE) has me extremely excited.

    I have a 360.  I have Xbox Live.  I have NetFlix.  I love movies.

    The NXE is going to actually bring all that together for me at no extra charge or change to my current setup.  Once released, the NXE will allow NetFlix subscribers to stream their ‘Play Now’ libraries directly to their Xbox as opposed to their PC.   This is huge for me.

    Granted, it’s not all charity.  NetFlix is trying to keep up w/ constantly changing media consumption preferences and distinguish itself as a bigtime player for the consistently predicted but yet to arrive on demand/download movie revolution.  Microsoft wins in that they 1) further distinguish Xbox Live as the premier online service and 2) improve on an already huge selling point for MS gaming platforms now and in the future.

    And just when I thought that was all, a nice little announcement came out detailing a deal between NetFlix and Starz to allow the streaming of Starz content to NetFlix subscribers.  Grande, as this is basically handing out a pay channel for free.

    Is this a big deal to anyone else or am I alone on this little wagon ride?

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