So today I got to install the New Xbox Experience a few days prior to the official release date. After a few minutes, really not that long, the Xbox rebooted into an intro video followed by the new interface.
After spending a few minutes flipping through the new menus, there’s no doubt the new UI is an upgrade. The growing list of items in the marketplace desperately needed a better structure and that’s what it got. Now including “All New Arrivals” and “Today’s Most Popular”. Currently the content shown in this area is from 2007, which I’m sure is in fact not the most downloaded today. Let’s assume this is simply because the NXE hasn’t officially launched yet.
Installing games onto the hard drive was an interesting experience. There’s no warning of how much space is required or left on your hdd. I test GTA IV given it has reasonably length startup times, it required 6.8GB. The most noticable improvement was of course not in load times at all, rather the dramatic reduction in noise emitted from console. There’s no notable change in volume between using the Dashboard and launching a HDD-installed game. Remember you will still need the game disc in the drive to ensure you own it, a mild inconvenience.
If your like myself and jumped into Xbox 360 early, you probably have a 20GB model, with formatting it leaves you with around 16GB to use. From there u add a couple of GB for gamer profiles and a few more for game content, and I could fit exactly one game installed on the hard drive. This leaves me needed a much larger HDD if I want to make any kind of reasonable use of this feature. The bad part is, Microsoft still charge insanely inflated prices for larger 120GB hard drives, let’s hope they wake up and address this soon.
Teaming up for group chat, photo sharing and/or gaming is done extremely well. I expect this to be one of the most used features from the NXE.
Overall the New Xbox Experience is flashy when you first see it, but after spending only a few minutes with it, it once again becomes just another interface. One of the most anticipated featured (Movies and TV Shows), available in the US, is still not available in Australia. As broadband penetration expands rapidly in Aus, as well the competition from Apple which started offering Movies and TV Shows here a few months ago, it now appears we won’t be seeing it any time in 2008.