While the New Xbox Experience officially launches on Wed. Nov. 19th, I was fortunate enough to get into the final wave of the Preview program. As of 5:00 pm this past Friday, the New Xbox Experience was made available to me, though I wasn't able to actually fire up my Xbox 360 until yesterday morning.
Thus far, the New Xbox Experience is an impressive overhaul of the Xbox 360's Dashboard. It is cosmetically beautiful, easy to navigate, and even the sissy little Avatars haven't annoyed me. But of course before you can check out any of that, you'll need to install the Update.
The installation process is a painless one. When you power up your Xbox 360 console and connect to Xbox LIVE, it'll pop up telling you there's a new Update that needs to be downloaded, just like any other System Update. The download will commence, and this will take approximately one minute. Your console will then reboot itself, and a launcher will execute downloading and installing whatever else it needs. This process took about 5 minutes overall.
After the installation is complete, you're greeted to a brief and stylish intro video and then you're introduced to the sissy little Avatars. A bunch of the wusses will run on screen, and you can choose anyone to use and either stick with that, or immediately customize him/her.
I took several minutes to make my Avatar look as close to me as possible (complete with receding hair line
As I mentioned above, the Dashboard is now really slick and easy to navigate, and once you log into Xbox LIVE, you're presented with several Channels that you can easily peruse using the Left Stick. Up and down scrolls through each Channel, and Left and Right scrolls thr
My Xbox is
Generally speaking, the My Xbox Channel is essenti
The Game Marketplace and Video Marketplace Channels respectively are a re-org
The Friends Channel is a nicely animated section showing your Friend's Avatars:
The Xbox Guide has also been completely overhauled, and uses a Blade setup si
The Xbox G
To the lef
To the right of the Home Blade is the Media Blade which is a combination of the classic Media Blade and the original Xbox Guide's music player controls, and to the right of the Media Blade is the Settings Blade which allows you to manage your Profile, Notifications, Preferences, Family Settings, System Settings, Account Management, and Turn off Your Console. Overall, the Settings Blade is a hybrid of the old Xbox Guide and the former System Blade.
Now, the big thing I was really looking forward to about the New Xbox Experience was being able to install games to my HDD. While Sony's PlayStation 3 has already allowed games to perform partial installs to their HDDs, the New Xbox Experience allows you to copy over the entire game right onto your HDD, and you'll then only
I tested this feature out with Gears of War 2, and the game weighs in at 6.7 GB and took approximately 12 minutes to install. Overall, this was not a bad wait time, though for those of us with an original 20 GB HDD, we really will only be able to have one game installed at a time, two if we're lucky. I presently have 809 MB of free space remaining because of Gears of War 2, when prior to the install I had about 7.5 GB free, close to half my HDD's overall available space.
The two m
One thing I haven't really tinkered with is Offline mode. The New Xbox Experience is much more Xbox LIVE centred than the previous Dashboard was, and for me this is a good thing as I'm almost always online when using my Xbox 360, however I did quickly check out an Offline Profile just to see what would happen.
Basically, you get to select and customize an Avatar just like an Xbox LIVE account does, but the Channels are a little different. There is no Spotlight Channel since this is Xbox LIVE dependant, and you start at the My Xbox Channel. The other Channels are present, however they all just contain quick details of what they could offer if you were connected to Xbox LIVE. In brief, if you have an Offline account, you will only really be using the My Xbox Channel and in a very similar manner to how you used the original Xbox 360 Dashboard, but considering the excellent new layout and cosmetics, this is by no means a bad thing and you will benefit greatly from the System Update. The Xbox Guide also has any Xbox LIVE dependant options either missing or greyed out. If you have an Xbox LIVE account and for whatever reason go to Offline mode, my expectation is that this is the setup we'd also have.
So after tinkering for about a day thus far, those are my impressions of the New Xbox Experience. Overall, a very nice cosmetic change, and save for the Marketplaces, much simpler and easier to navigate. The install to HDD option is a dream, assuming you have the space, and Microsoft has really gone above and beyond with this System Update. Considering the Xbox 360 turns three years old next Saturday, the simple fact that an Update of this magnitude is not only being released but being released for free is an excellent display from Microsoft, and will certainly help the Xbox 360 maintain its competitive edge for as long as Microsoft chooses to support it.
Now let's just hope Xbox LIVE is prepared for the server load come Wednesday...