Thursday, November 20, 2008

The New Xbox Experience!

Yesterday night, we were able to download the much hyped New Xbox Experience (NXE) from Xbox Live, which is essentially an Xbox Dashboard (Xbox 360 Operating System) update. Aside from streamlining the user interface and making it more easy to use, the NXE lets you create and customize an in-system Avatar (much like Nintendo's Miis or the avatars on Playstation Home). It also adds some new features to the Xbox 360 such as the ability to install your games to the hard drive. This has some benefit for a few games which continuously stream data from the disc, like Fable II and Gears of War 2. Installing the games on the Xbox 360's drive are still optional, so players who want to save on hard drive space aren't forced to use this feature if they don't want to.

Creating an Xbox avatar is a lot of fun; here's ours:

Xbox 360 owners can choose from a wide variety of options to customize the look of their avatar. For instance, all kinds of faces, eye shapes, skin colors, clothes, shoes, accessories, etc., are available to users when customizing their avatar so that no two avatars are exactly the same. And with enough effort, you could make your avatar look exactly like you!

The update added a lot of other improvements to the Xbox 360 as well. For example, now it's possible to party up with several friends and voice chat with them simultaneously. Previously, you could make a channel to chat with one other person; but with this new update, you can group together with other friends and party chat, which is really useful and cool when you want to set up a game. It's also possible to invite a group of friends to a game (party invites).

They also added new background themes, called premium themes, which seem more 'three dimensional' compared to the older ones. It's a nice little touch that makes buying a theme much more worthwhile. For instance, if you buy a Fable II Premium theme, when you browse your friends list you can see that your friends' avatars are situated in environments from the game. Presentation-wise, it adds a lot to the overall look and feel of the dashboard.

The NXE adds so many improvements to the Xbox 360 user interface---so much that it makes the Xbox 360 feel like an entirely new game console. It's absolutely fantastic that this was all done through the power of online connectivity and software. Xbox 360 owners don't need to buy any additional hardware or software to avail of the NXE; it's a major benefit of being connected to Xbox Live. Both Silver and Gold Xbox Live users can avail of the NXE update, so it's practically free to Xbox 360 users. Microsoft really did a great job in creating a more 'friendly' user environment through the NXE.

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