First impressions with the New Xbox 360 Experience

Friday I recieved my acceptance email into the NXE preview program. Phew, the last wave too!.  Sure the New Xbox Experience will be available to all on November 19 (Wednesday), but I got to play with it over the weekend. 

A few months ago the NXE was announced, and everyone got to drool for a few months while MS put the final touches to the most recent dashboard update.  Apparently this update came a bit late.  Upon reading about this announcement and some subsequent price drops, I decided to curb my Playstation 3 fanboyism and dive in to the dark green side (yes, I still LOVE my PS3).  

The update includes some pretty drastic UI changes, and new features, which are most welcome.  The new UI seems to tie closely into MS's Zune, which makes one wonder what might be in store.  Among the new features you'll find:

  • Netflix "Watch it Now" video streaming
  • Avatars- lets just call them what they are: Miis (mine pictured above)
  • Parties- play games together, and have private party voice chat
  • Game Installation- install complete game data on your HDD for supposed performance boost

Plus a few other neat tweaks , quick launch being one of my favorites- press the guide button, select quick launch and jump into a game while in another game or video.  There's plenty more info at Joystiq, including videos.

So after a weekend of playing with it, I am extremely pleased.  The Netflix streaming being the 'Killer App' for me.  Videos added to your instant viewing queue show up near immedieately on the 360.  You get great "box art" to flip through, in a coverflow-esque fashion.  

The other major upgrade is the overall UI, which is simpler, sharper, better looking and most of all, intuitive.  I found the old "blades" to be quite cluttered.  However the blades aren't totally gone- they've been downsized to the text-only Xbox Guide, for quick access to key functions.  The other carry over from the old interface is the notifications.

Overall, the NXE is a phenomenal update- a real revitalization to a stale UI (even though its only 3 years old). It should help sell more consoles- Heck, its why I bought mine.