The New XBox Experience

I spent the evening messing about with the New XBox Experience. Figured I’d share my thoughts like everyone else has. Download and install was fairly quick: 10-15 minutes (this was right after work ET so I’m sure everyone else was grabbing it at the same time). No problems there.

Creating an avatar was actually more fun than I expected it to be. The examples I’ve seen in the past all looked kind of boring middle-class, and there’s more variety than that. Now that I have an avatar….who knows? I took a gamer-picture of it, so that’s something.

My old theme got borked under the NXE, so I sprang for a premium Fable 2 theme. That fancies up your friends list (a place I very rarely visit) but otherwise is just an expensive wallpaper.

Overall, the interface is more cuddly but feels less efficient to me, but maybe that depends on getting used to it? You can hit the XBox button on your controller to bring up a mini-version of the old ‘blade’ interface and from there quickly launch the game in the drive…but that’s one more step than I used to have to do, when the “Play game” button was on every screen.

There’s a jillion ads, as there has always been in spite of MS charging us $50/year to play online, but they seem more intrusive now since you have to flip past them.

I can’t really used the “copy game to hard drive” since my launch unit doesn’t have the space, unless I delete lots of stuff I’d rather not delete. Fable 2 wanted about 7 gigs of space. Don’t ask me where all my hard drive space has gone..I have a handful of demos and lots of Arcade Titles. I guess I’ll need to do more purging if I want to try “copy game to hard drive” and still have room for downloading demos.

Netflix integration is a great feature, but nothing in my queue was being offered in HD. So it looks just like it looks on my Roku box, except I have a nice remote for the Roku box, and there’s no fan noise with it (though this 360 is much quieter than my previous two have been).

Overall, it feels kind of “fun for an hour” and now it’ll be a matter of figuring out my way around the interface. I don’t really feel like I’ve gained much. If I had a bigger hard drive, or if I didn’t already have a Roku box, then the install to disk and Netflix features would’ve been big wins, but for me personally, it was really much ado about nothing. But hopefully MS can build on this interface and offer new, cool features.

If you’re a really social gamer who has a big Friends list that you’re always looking at, and is always playing online with your buds, then the update is probably a lot more significant for you. For those of us part of the dying breed of people who enjoy solitude now and then… it’s kind of “meh.”