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New Xbox Experience Impressions

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Although it was available much earlier, I decided to wait til today to update my Xbox 360 with the New Xbox Experience. I’ve got to say, this NXE interface is incredibly slick. I created my avatar, fiddled around with the menu interface and installed Gears of War 2. Then I decided to sit down and share some of my thoughts on my Microsoft’s big revamp.

The download and installation was quick and painless. I thought it was going to be a 20 minute ordeal, but it was actually much less. The introduction movie encapsulated the feel of the NXE perfectly; it’s slick, it’s modern and it’s not something your mum would shut off within 10 seconds of looking at it.

Avatar creation was as easy as creating Miis. There were more options, but it was essentially the same. I thought they were irrelevant additions, but now that I’ve made my digital representation — I don’t mind it. It gives the Xbox 360 a bit more of a personal touch.

Navigating through the new menu interface felt a lot like navigating through the XMB. I liked the XMB a lot more than old Dashboard mainly for its simple categorization and speedy navigation. The NXE almost nailed it with the categorization. I liked having the Xbox Live! Marketplace and its numerous functions collapsed onto a single section instead of the current layout of splintering it into Video Marketplace, Game Marketplace, Spotlight etc. etc.

The XMB may have the advantage of slippery speed through the various categories, but it doesn’t looks quite as pretty as the NXE. Going through the various options is reminiscent of Apple’s Cover Flow interface. I like it, but I will admit it’s a bit busy if you just want to go find your games. It’s fantastic for casual browsing though, especially for Achievements and the Marketplace.

The next feature I brought up was the new guide button’s mini-dashboard. It worked very similar to the old dashboard, but miniturized. I could access many of the Xbox 360’s functions and options via this mini-dashboard and in a responsive manner. It’s a great alternative for those who despise the new interface.

Being able to install my Xbox 360 games onto the hard drive is very nice. The speed gains are minor, but the lack of DVD drive noise is a huge boon! Installing couldn’t be easier! Unfortunately, it isn’t perfect since not all games were built around the fact that you could install the game onto the hard drive. My brother installed NBA LIVE 09 and instead of working like a dream, we’re experiencing stutters in-between baskets. Disappointing, but like I said, not all games will work as intended when installed onto the hard drive. Along with hoping that there will be patches to address the install issues for finicky games, I’m hoping Microsoft will lower the price of their 120 GB hard drives; a measly 20 GB isn’t going to cut it.

Overall, I would consider the NXE a rousing success. It’s not a perfect launch, but it could have been a lot worse. I haven’t heard any horror stories yet, but then again this is just day one. It’s an exciting system update with plenty of features for everyone. I had my doubts, but I ultimately, I am very pleased with this New Xbox Experience.

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