Sunday, November 07, 2010

Xbox 360 Fall 2010 System Update Impressions

On Mon. Nov. 1st, 2010, the Fall System Update for the Xbox 360 was released via Xbox LIVE. Like so many System Updates before it (and not just limited to the Xbox 360 platform), it had a bumpy start on day 1.

The usual search of "The Update Bricked my Console" threads surfaced, whether legit, due to user-induced installation errors, or modded boxes going bye-bye, I don't know, and I'm not really referring to these.

On launch day, most Avatar Awards and downloaded Avatar items could not be selected/equipped, which I found odd since Microsoft is huge on marketing their cute little Mii wanna-bees. Halo Waypoint also kept encountering an internal error and wouldn't load beyond it's main menu, some Dashboard videos wouldn't play, and gamer's download histories wouldn't load.

Thankfully , most of these were fixed by Monday's end and Avatar's received an update when you went into the Editor on Wednesday evening, I believe.

One of the main focuses of the Fall Update was to add Kinect compatibility to all Xbox 360's, and since I don't own Kinect, I'm assuming this went off without any major hitches. The Dashboard was also aesthetically redesigned to a blander, simpler, more white style. There's less motion and graphics in the background now, which seems to have sped up load times of things like your Friend's List, and while I'm happy for such improved functionality I must confess I'm not a fan of the blinding white new menus. It's something I'll get used to, like the new sound effects, but I really wish it wasn't so bright.

Keeping in step with Microsoft's more family oriented outlook, when the update is complete a new, brief tutorial (pictured) starts up, which is great for newcomers to the console, but for veterans you'll just want to skip right past. The Welcome Channel will need to be disabled like it always does after every major System Update, and sadly, Microsoft still hasn't added the often requested My Xbox Channel as the default Channel option. One day perhaps, one day.

The Xbox LIVE Marketplace and Zune Marketplace respectively have seen a complete organizational overhaul, and this is a _huge_ improvement. The Zune Marketplace is so much easier to navigate and your own library is far better sorted, and you can actually see new items in the Xbox LIVE Marketplace in preview windows, increasing the speed of navigation there as well. I must confess, of all the changes brought about by the Fall Update this is my favourite and the most notable.

Voice communication is also supposed to have been improved, but I've been a hermit this last week and actually haven't voice chatted with anyone, but I hear people now sound like they're talking through a tin can and reactions have been mixed. I'll find out for myself soon enough, I suppose.

Long asked for, Netflix has not only come to Canada but finally to the Xbox 360. It's an "app" you need to install just like Facebook for the Xbox 360, and since I don't have a Netflix account and The Walking Dead is already available on Zune Marketplace, I simply haven't bothered.

When all is said and done, the 2010 Fall System Update is one that I find rather underwhelming, but in a good way. It certainly didn't wow me in any fashion, several core aspects have been greatly improved to my liking, but cosmetically the Dashboard now looks uglier to my eyes, so it's a trade off. Overall I suppose, not a bad update at all.

Mandatory for all those wanting to connect to Xbox LIVE, if you don't have this update already, you likely will soon.

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