The New Xbox Experience Is Here

The New Xbox Experience (NXE) has finally arrived. And I imagine many will be rushing home from work to check it out tonight. Some thoughts, after living with it a few weeks

The most obvious changes you’ll see are to the interface. Microsoft blew up the “blades” and has pretty much started from scratch. While some organization and navigation conventions will feel vaguely familiar, the look & feel is vastly different. Some have said it’s more efficient and better organized, though I’m not so sure – perhaps a couple years of muscle memory is holding me back.

The first thing you’ll want to do is create an avatar. While I’ll still not entirely sold on the concept (or point), here’s my first, best, and only attempt at a virtual DZ. Once you’ve gotten past that, Netflix subscribers who have Xbox Live Gold membership should immediately download and sample the video player. (You’ll also want a remote.) It’s a pretty nice experience, other than the limited fast forward and rewind functionality, especially due to the introduction of select high definition movies and television programming. Though, competitor Sony (PS3) may be playing licensing hardball. Speaking of downloadable content, the Xbox Marketplace is now available on the webview your history and purchase new stuff: videos, games, themes.

Last, but surely not least, of the notable new features is the ability to rip games to the hard drive. I highly recommend this for titles you plan to invest significant time in – Call of Duty World at War in my case. While you’ll still need to keep a game disc in the drive for authentication, it’s not going to spin up with considerable noise while you play. I assume it also reduces load times.

Once you’ve taken the New Xbox Experience for a spin, let us know in the comments what works for you and what MS muffed. And if you’re looking for a bit more guidance, check out Gizmodo’s Top Ten List or NewTeeVee’s summary of Netflix streaming.

8 thoughts on “The New Xbox Experience Is Here”

  1. I only logged on to upgrade today and create my new Wii, er Xbox avatar. I’ll have to kick the tires tomorrow. For now, I’m trying to figure out who’s avatar looks more like them in real life: yours or mine? ;)

  2. Some initial reactions:
    1) The Netflix interface is nice. The inability to add movies via the XBox interface is clearly a tradeoff they made. However, the setup was fast and efficient, and when I add movies to my “Instant Queue” via a web browser, they show up on my Xbox in about 3-5 seconds.

    2) They have made no changes to the “browser” for large lists of content. This is a huge problem for me. I use the XBox as my mp3 players. There is no quick way to move through the ENTIRE list of Artists. The same is true for any other list. Go to the Video Marketplace and try and find a movie. You basically get a big list of 800+ items to scroll through. They really need to fix this, but apparently they don’t agree. I find this to be a real limiting factor for using the XBox as my “media center”.

    3) The new look and feel is nice. I think right now I just like the newness of it. I still hate avatars. But, I guess we are in an avatar world for a while..;)

  3. Kevin, do they have designer glasses for your avatar?

    Spark, agree on the long lists. I’m surprised this still hasn’t been solved and doesn’t work well (with a lot of content) using a 10′ interface. The Netflix browsing/adding limitation is also present on other Netflix STBs like the Roku. I do agree it’d make sense to offer the entire catalog… though perhaps they too are struggling with the ‘list’ problem. (And the PS3 doesn’t have a solution either with those tiny thumbnails I can’t see from the couch representing VOD titles.)

  4. I actually signed back up for Netflix after the update and it’s implemented very well outside the limitation of no adding items directly from the interface and a lack of some content (i.e. Xbox streaming not available at this time). Anyhow, I’m impressed after 20 minutes with it. Installing GOW2 to the hard drive as I type this.

  5. I was extremely underwhelmed. I had been waiting for this for months and the only positive thing I’ve found is installing games to the hard drive. The avatars look too silly and there is no content available for them yet. It feels too much like a money grab. There are tons of new things to buy out there, but they won’t get any money out of me for it.

  6. As someone who spends a lot of time playing games on the device, the new party option is a huge improvement over the old chat that limited you to two-person communications outside of games. Not having to accept chat invites (which can take valuable seconds when you’re running for your life in a fast-paced FPS) is a pretty big deal. Also – more information about what you’re doing in-game is available to friends that join your party. For instance, I can see not only which game my friend is playing, but which team they’re on, as well–information that wasn’t previously available from anywhere but in-game. Now if only Sony would ease up a bit on that Xbox-restricted content…

  7. I like what I see so far, but it’s going to take some practice to figure out where everything is. Also, the Netflix ‘Watch Instantly’ catalog is disappointing.

    I tried to install COD4 onto my drive last night but it crapped out 19% of the way through due to some scratches on the DVD. I assuming I could borrow a copy, install it, and then use my scratched up copy to satisfy the MS copy protection scheme.

    I started to setup my avatar as an approximation of myself but then figured a huge mustache and a linen suit looked better.

  8. Does anyone else find it incredibly frustrating that the Netflix app doesn’t indicate which movies are available in HD? You have to hit play and wait for it to buffer before it tells you if the title is available in HD. I wonder why they’re doing that. For people like me who only want movies in HD, that’s really annoying. Hopefully they add an indicator to each movie soon. In the meantime, I’ve been using to see which movies you can watch in HD (although I don’t think that’s a complete list yet).

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