19 November 2008

The New Xbox Experience

NXE dropped today.  It's the new OS interface for the Xbox 360.  With it come 3 major changes:

- Redmond's version of the Mii, called Avatars
- Streaming Netflix movies (!!!)
- Ripping games to the hard drive

The Avatars
Doesn't affect me or the gamers like me.  As a new feature, there are less than a dozen games that take advantage of it.  So unless developers are gonna spend time bootstrapping these avatars into their older games, I don't see them impacting the platform for some time.  I do admit that the 3D friends list is much more interesting than the text list of yesterday.
Sure, it's a complete knock-off of Nintendo's concept, but honestly, is that important?  People see through that bullshit immediately.  There's no "opting out" of the feature, so who cares?  It might help MicroSoft a little with their casual appeal, but Nintendo's got that locked up tight.  For what it's worth, I think the Avatars look better than Miis.

Streaming Netflix Movies
This is how I pictured the future of movies.  You subscribe to Netflix, you get to stream their Instant Movies to your PC or your Xbox.  That's it.  Simple.  Let's work on a more complete catalog and call it a day!
There is no option for browsing movies on the 360, so you'll have to add anything you want to watch to your Instant Queue on the web.  Minor inconvenience and I'll bet they add a browser soon.  Great move for Netflix, a company I heart dearly.

Ripping Games
Haven't tried the feature myself, but I've heard it does save a number of seconds off of game booting and all loads.  Not bad, but with the limited size of my 20GB Xbox HDD, I won't be using this feature.  Makes sense for all the 360 Elite users and anyone just now getting the system with a 60GB HDD.  I may rip Rock Band 2 just because it's my most used disc.  
I like the idea of ripping the game to the HDD.  It's kind of like.... oh yeah... installing a PC game!

There are a couple other neat features to touch on.  One is the option to NOT boot whatever disc is in the drive on system boot.  It's a multimedia device; nice to see it get treated like one.  The other feature worth noting is the Party mode.  Haven't tried it out either, but supposedly it's like a virtual couch with your friends.  Start a "Party room," invite your friends, discuss what to play, then everyone loads up that particular game.  Seems like an efficient way to get your friends together and figure out what to play.  (Better than 8 people each IM-ing each other!)  Also works with sharing pictures and, in the future, collaborative movie watching!

What are your thoughts on NXE?  Sound off in the comments.

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