Opinion - Microsoft’s New Xbox Experience (NXE) announced yesterday is much more than a simple update to the software’s dashboard. It transitions to a completely new look and feel of the interface. Oh, and yes, there are several new features as well. Here is our first impression.
Having played with the NXE, I can personally vouch that it is an awesome, though not an improvement that was really needed. I have no qualms or complaints about the former interface. In fact, I actually liked it. But there are some interesting changes that are worth pointing out.
The most obvious change in the new interface was the replacement of the former 2D blades with a fantastic 3D design that looks much sleeker and is actually a little more user friendly. To navigate from category to category touring the Game Marketplace, My Xbox, and other sections all you have to do is simply tap up or down. When you want to scroll through the different options, all you have to do is hit the left or right trigger. Sometimes the best ideas are the least complex ones.
The new interface offers a clutter-free design. However, the use of stacked images will allow for more advertising, which I would expect not to be especially obtrusive.
In the past, I was a little irritated by the loading and counting issue that the old Xbox Live arcade seemed to have. The NXE solves this little problem. As soon as you download games via the arcade, the list is automatically repopulated meaning you no longer have to deal with any wait time.
The pop-up guide delivers a Quick Launch section that displays a list of the games most recently played, and the most recently downloaded files. This is also the place where your Netflix movies will be stored.
I have to admit that I was a excited about the changes to the Avatars. When you first log in using the NXE, you will have to create an avatar by using a generic template and then customizing it. I found that recreating myself virtually was not only fun, but intriguing. The avatar is shown in supported games and in the friends category.
The Xbox Live Marketplace has changed as well. The new design of the store makes navigation simple and it can now be accessed from your computer which allows remote purchases that are downloaded automatically the next time you log into your Xbox Live Account via your 360.
When dealing with your friends list, there are a few changes. You can now create groups of friends so that each of you can move from game to game simultaneously; you can also hang out, chat, and share photos. Eventually, the Xbox will utilize this feature so that you and your group of friends can watch streaming movies together.
As one of the big new items, the arrival of the New Xbox Experience ushered in the use of streaming Netflix, which offers over 12,000 videos. One thing that is a little irritating is the inability to search all of Netflix’s streaming library from your 360. Instead you are only be able to view your Netflix.com Instant Queue. If you want to watch something via the Xbox 360 make sure you’ve added it to your list.
If you intend to install new games you have the option of installing them to the hard drive. This can reduce the load times for games such as Grand Theft Auto, and Fallout 3. However, for some games, including Halo 3, the installation could potentially increase your load time. It’s a hit or miss, and will more than likely be a trial and error process as to which games load quickly and which will not. Keep your discs, you will still need them inside the console after the game is installed for copy protection purposes.
I was surprised and happy with the changes that came with the New Xbox Experience, it proves that Microsoft’s Xbox 360 strategy is alive and kicking. As far as I am concerned, I cannot see the Xbox 360 going away anytime soon.