Archives For Xbox

ZNF ‘Round The Web

Dave Zatz —  February 6, 2009

Leaving comments across the blogosphere…

Can a projector really serve as my main HDTV?
For several years I ran a 720p projector as my main ‘HDTV’ – with a 10′ wide screen. Was pretty awesome for movies, sports, and Xbox/Dreamcast. But back then my main source was an HTPC that was a PITA to maintain. The HTPC situation is better these days and there are more ways to use a projector with exiting STBs (think HDMI) than there were back in 2001. However, you still probably need a dedicated or specialized room for maximum enjoyment.

Attention, Analog TV Holdouts: You Have Until June 12th
I believe the revised legislation still permits broadcasters to flip the switch prior to June 12th. And this would cause much more disruption than a true hard date. What’s Grandma going to do when some channels come in, but not all? Probably leads to more confusion. I hope all stations pulling the plug on a NTSC simulcast choose to run some sort of repeating PSA or video crawl, for a period of time, saying to go buy a converter and call your grandson to help install it.

Netflix movie downloads are a success on Xbox 360

While there’s no question these numbers are staggering and kudos are deserved, I wonder how we should define “success” (as stated in headline) of this service. Do we know if Xbox Gold subscriptions have increased? Do we know if Netflix subscriptions have increased? Licensing and serving all this video is expensive, and I’m not convinced Netflix’s current ‘unlimited video, no extra charge’ model is sustainable. Although, I think we can all agree the content selection is somewhat lacking… and that’s one way they’re saving money.

Allio Packs a PC Into Its TVs

The processor should be fine, but Vista is another story. Too bad Windows 7 isn’t ready yet. The bigger problem here is conceptual. Am I going to be able to see the text in my email when it’s a split screen from 10′ away on the couch? Do I even want to try? “WebTV” variations have repeatedly failed. Having said that, using this as an all-in-one Vista Media Center could be compelling. Does the PC have access to the tuner?

GeekTonic on the EngadgetHD Podcast
I wish all podcasts were automatically transcribed. I enjoy reading and I enjoy video, but I can’t sit still and just listen. Plus, I can’t multitask and listen while doing other things. I’m probably missing out on some good stuff. Perhaps if I resume commuting by car, I’ll re-engage.


Like Chris Lanier, I’ve been disappointed in Microsoft’s apparent inability to deliver an IPTV solution onto the Xbox 360 platform… As announced during Bill Gates’ 2007 CES keynote. We’ve heard relatively little regarding the fate of Xbox IPTV since then, and I imagine the lack of deployment is related to both technological challenges and carrier deals. So I cornered a Mediaroom rep today on the show floor.

Before handing me off to the PR team, she confirmed this initiative is still alive and well with multiple carrier field trials in progress. When asked if anything was going on in the US, she suggested I question AT&T. Now, I can’t really speculate if she said that because AT&T is considering the platform, or because AT&T is their primary partner for television services here in the US (with U-verse).

The PR woman was at once both more forthcoming and more secretive. She indicated BT will be deploying Xbox 360 IPTV in the UK. While that’s isn’t entirely recent news and she didn’t give any details on timing, I’m left with the sense it’s definitely happening this year. And she had no comment on other partners or regions.

The photo up top is the Mediaroom interface running on a Motorola set-top box, though I was told the experience will be the same on the Xbox 360 upon entering the television area. Below is another screenshot of what that menu item looked like (in 2007) within the Xbox 360’s original interface. Which, of course, has since been replaced.

Given the amount of first-person shooter online gaming I partake in these days, it was bound to happen… In a recent Call of Duty World at War online match with more than the usual amount of trash talking going on (guilty, as charged), one player who couldn’t hold his own in the virtual battle or in the verbal sparring took it to another level when he threatened me, saying “I’ll kill you in real life with a real gun.” Of course, it’s highly unlikely I’m in any danger. What we have here is a maladjusted individual with poor anger management and interpersonal skills.

However, this seemed like a good opportunity to change my Gamertag to something a bit more anonymous. You see, when I originally setup Xbox Live I had zero intention of gaming with others. It was all about downloading high definition movies. And I’ve never been shy about interacting online without a veil of anonymity. But, going forward, why tempt fate? So I gave the Xbox Live support folks a call… and it turns out a death threat doesn’t exempt you from the Gamertag change fee, which runs 800 Microsoft Points. As Microsoft doesn’t actually match Points to dollars or sell 800 Point bundles via Live, I ended up paying $12.50 for 1,000 Points to fund my new identity.

Death threats must come in regularly, because the support staff didn’t seem concerned. In fact, I’d say they were pretty dismissive. Which leads to the point of this post… Keep your kids away from Xbox Live, ensure they’re supervised by an adult, or get a Wii instead. There’s just way too much profanity, hate speech, and apparently threats going on.

The New Xbox Experience Is Here

Dave Zatz —  November 19, 2008

The New Xbox Experience (NXE) has finally arrived. And I imagine many will be rushing home from work to check it out tonight.

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Xbox 360 RRoD, Just in Time

Dale Dietrich —  November 8, 2008

My Xbox 360 finally experienced the dreaded Red Ring of Death (RRoD). Over the last few weeks my 360’s been randomly freezing-up while playing Dead Space. It crashed/hung more and more frequently until I couldn’t run the console for more than 10 minutes without locking up. Many times it froze on the boot screen and initially I didn’t get the classic Red Ring of Death.

I called Microsoft support, expecting to have to pay for a warranty repair. Happily, while the support rep walked me through his trouble-shooting script, the console displayed the Red Ring of Death for the first time. I was able to boot the 360 a couple more times after the first RRoD, but it inevitably failed to the Red-Ring-of-Death state within minutes or seconds.

The reason why I’m happy about this, is because I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones that acquired the 360 at launch  – November 22, 2005. Microsoft’s extended RRoD warranty lasts three years from the date of purchase. My 360 RRoD’d just days before the third anniversary of my purchase date. As a result, I qualified for the free replacement.

Read the rest of this entry at The Daleisphere »

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.