Archives For Xbox

Netflix Week continues (and we may not even done)…

This morning, the New Xbox Experience (NXE) was delivered to my console. After quickly creating a non-representative (i.e. slender) avatar, I jumped right into Netflix. Unlike the previous 360 interface, the new one appears to be extensible – adding functionality without requiring a massive software update. What I’m trying to say is that Netflix isn’t pre-loaded and, by clicking on the tile for the first time, I was prompted to download it.

The Xbox Netflix interface is much richer, both in appearance and functionality, than what currently exists on the Roku Netflix box. A conceptual hurdle for some, at least initially, may still be fast forward and rewind via thumnail rather than traditional video scrubbing – a Netflix streaming limitation design decision. Like Engadget, I can put to bed the HDCP requirement rumors… Netflix, Xbox, and my HDTV are all reporting high definition streaming. I suppose it’s possible that Netflix is reducing the resolution over my component connection, but wouldn’t the UI indicate that? It also may be possible that HDCP is required only when using HDMI – meaning, some early HD sets may not support the handshake.

In the video above, you can see the opening Xbox video and a brief Netflix Watch Instantly walk-thru. Keep in mind that due to my network capture technique and YouTube encoding, you’ll probably notice dropped frames and longer buffering – this is not entirely representative. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, perhaps a recording is worth 10,000. At least until that take-down notice arrives… ;)

The NXE is currently available as a preview to a limited subset of customers and official launch is scheduled for November 19th.

The inclusion of select HD streaming is quite promising, especially in conjunction with the new Starz lineup and as long as Netflix continues to freely bundle online video with unlimited disc rental plans.

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PlayOn: Netflix on your PS3?

Dave Zatz —  October 2, 2008

I first came across PlayOn a few weeks ago. The PC-based software streams several Internet video site’s content to DLNA-compatible devices. PlayOn is still in beta, though the promised Netflix Watch Now support has just hit. Like most of the PlayOn experience, it continues to be rough around the edges – which is not unreasonable for pre-release software.

There’s a lot of promise here… Folks would much rather watch long form content from their couch and PlayOn leverages existing hardware platforms, such as the Xbox 360 and PS3 with Wii support on the way. While I am hopeful, thus far my experiences have been mixed. Check out the list of folders below right. That’s how you (try to) navigate Hulu. My Netflix experiment this AM wasn’t so successful either. While I could bring up my playlist (above), no movies would stream. And after a few minutes of futzing, PlayOn decided my Netflix credentials were no longer valid.

If they can tighten up the experience, both interface and reliability, while keeping up with any changes these sites will periodically throw at them, PlayOn will be well worth the $30 software fee. But not yet.

While Amazon and SonyStyle don’t yet have inventory, the new 80GB Playstation 3 SKU slated for a September release started shipping to various other retail outlets as early as August 20th. In fact, my local GameStop received inventory last week. And today I swapped my (former) Xbox 360 for the new PS3. Sony’s more compact and less noisy design appeals. But Blu-ray winning the HD optical disc war coupled with inclusion of the new DualShock controller are what finally moved me.

Both Engadget and Gizmodo are live-blogging Microsoft’s opening E3 keynote… In addition to a massive Xbox 360 Dashboard UI overhaul (which I alluded to in May), Netflix-on-Xbox video streaming has been confirmed for fall. Sweet! Here’s to hoping Netflix can load up on current Hollywood hits prior to launch. Guess my Netflix Roku box is headed to ebay once we’ve completed the Battle Royale.

EngadgetHD’s Ben Drawbaugh recently abandoned TiVo in favor of a CableCARD Vista Media Center and has been evaluating the current crop of extenders. His ultimate advice: If you’re a gamer, stick with the Xbox 360 (despite the cost and noise). Otherwise, the quiet and relatively inexpensive Linksys DMA2100 ($240) is the way to go.

It appears that the Xbox 360 Dashboard will only receive a minor update in the near future:

most users will not notice any significant changes to the dashboard this spring

While Marc Whitten of Xbox Live says they’ve recently been focused on the infrastrucutre, a little birdie shared something recently… We’ll see if it pans out, but a major UI overhaul may be underway with a winter target release.

Done With GTA IV

Dave Zatz —  May 10, 2008

Dale still seems to be enjoying Grand Theft Auto IV, but I’ve had enough. Though sales have been HUGE, my copy of GTA IV is on the way back to Gamefly. The somewhat repetitive missions to advance the plot aren’t doing it for my short attention span. I also miss the more precise avatar combat control of Call of Duty 4 (or even Halo) and the driving control of Burnout Paradise over GTA IV. As I’ve done with previous editions of GTA, I dropped the story mode, acquired a small arsenal, found well-defended locations, and took out law enforcement. But that’s only fun for so long. Other nits: Text is too small and the environments are often too dark – even with the in-game brightness cranked.