It’s been a little over two weeks since I’ve gotten my Xbox 360, and I’m here to give my experiences with the system so far. This console certainly has it’s issues, but do the pros make up for the cons?
When I picked up the system, I didn’t do a ton of reading before hand as per the specifics because I wanted to have the system surprise me, instead of knowing what to expect. There are a few things that stand out to me as being awesome additions that I will mention here. As time goes on, I’m sure there will be more things I will find out about as well.
Something I always first look at is the ability of the music player that the system includes. By far, the coolest music player on a console I have ever seen has been the Sega Dreamcast, where it shows the CD-Rom spinning as it’s playing. Ok I’m joking and I’m not. Yes that was the best, but still incredibly boring. The 360 music player sorts all your music in the original folder format that they are in, so browsing them is incredibly easy. If you rip music to the player, it will grab the disc info from a database (I am not sure which one) and automatically input the names for you. This is a huge step since the original Xbox. The last thing that really stood out were the visualizations… there are at least 50 different variations of them, and when viewed full screen could really add a punch to your next house party. I am proud to say that Microsoft didn’t half-ass this feature, and I am impressed.
Since I am a noob to Xbox Live, I found some of the features to be very cool. Regardless of what game I’m playing, online or offline, if a friend goes online, it will so say on the screen. Your friends have the ability to invite you to a game, which I knew about but didn’t seem that interesting or amazing. What did impress me though, is that your friends can send you text and voice messages, which is far more personal than a standard “Friend has invited you to play Game.” If your friend sends you a message, you don’t even have to leave your game to check it… you just push the Xbox Live button on the controller and grab it there. Once you are done listening or reading, you go right back to your game.
Customization is another feature that should be mentioned also. If you are not happy with the base GUI that the system includes, you can select from a decent selection of ones pre-loaded on the console. I immediately changed mine to the PGR3 version, which is somewhat of a darker skin, but looks sweet. If you want more than what’s provided there, you can download new ones from the Live Marketplace for around $1 a piece. This is cool, but what’s not cool is that you can’t even preview them first. You are mainly left blinded.. and may end up purchasing a theme that looks dumb. On the other hand though, you can customize your own theme by using your photographs as the background. This adds a ton of personality to your console.
No matter where you read, people are saying that you must have an HDTV in order to enjoy this system. One site is quoted as saying, “If you own a 360 but do not own an HDTV… sell the 360 and buy an HDTV, then save up for a new 360″. To me, this is taking it to extremes, because I have played the system for equal amounts of time on a 480i TV as well as an HDTV at 720p and 1080i. I can honestly say that the system still looks amazing on a non-HDTV set and it should not take away from any of the fun. HDTV certainly is more so impressive though, because the image is brighter and clearer. For those who don’t own an HDTV but play consoles and computer games, it’s like playing the same game on the computer or your TV… it usually looks better on the PC because of the crisp picture. So, it does look better on an HDTV, but you will hardly be disappointed on a regular tube TV.
Something that upset me is the connectivity to a Windows x64 PC. When you try to connect to a PC, the system urges you to go download a PC Setup program from here. The thing is, it’s for Windows XP SP2 only. Trying to install in an x64 install is a no go. I am awaiting a reply from Microsoft on this issue, and will update the article here when I hear an answer to this problem.
The system is impressive overall, but these are a few things that really stood out in my mind and made me say “Whoa.” The 360 is designed to be upgraded in the future, so if Sony comes out with features that the 360 should have, then Microsoft could easily release a downloadable patch to update the OS. I’d personally like to see better video support, because I couldn’t seem to get any of my .WMV’s, .AVI’s or .MP4’s to work on the system.