Xbox 360 October Dashboard Update Incoming (Kinect)
Date: Thursday, September 30 @ 22:44:47 UTC
Topic: Xbox 360
The next time you turn on your Xbox 360 and connect to Xbox LIVE you will be prompted to update to the latest Xbox 360 NXE 2.0 experience. Let's see what has changed.
Microsoft is using this November's release of the company's motion-sensing initiative to revamp the Xbox 360 dashboard. The new update, due out later this fall when Kinect hits stores, gives the dashboard a complete cosmetic upgrade, zippier navigation, and more features and functionality. We should note that Zune, ESPN, and Netflix features require an adult Gold membership on Xbox Live.
You'll notice the change right away, as the opening splash screen has a different look and welcoming sound byte. Mostly all of the current dashboard's sounds have been disregarded, save for the iconic "pop-up." Instead, the interface now carries with it more soothing sounds. Visually speaking, Microsoft has opted for a minimalistic and angular presentation, with more concentration on grays and whites.
Performance-wise, there have definitely been a few tweaks under the hood. The Xbox Guide is definitively faster--absent now is the lag the previous version suffered from when launching the Guide mid-game. Browsing through the Game Library seems quicker too, and items installed on the hard drive populate the screen with ease.
Among the updated features is a new version of Netflix. Most notably, the option to now search the entire Netflix library has been added, and items not available for instant streaming can now be added to your traditional queue with the click of a button.
ESPN makes its debut on the Xbox 360 with the fall update, but users with an ISP (Internet service provider) that has not signed a contract with Disney won't have access to ESPN3 HD content, which includes the streaming of out-of-market sports. We experienced this issue firsthand as Cablevision in Northern New Jersey has yet to agree to terms that allow for such services. There's better news for customers in New York City as Time Warner has come to an agreement with Disney, but there has yet to be anything signed. You can check to see if your ISP has a deal in place by heading over to ESPN3.com.
If you're among these unfortunate souls like we are, the ESPN on Xbox 360 experience is a bit watered-down, but does include plenty of streaming highlights and clips from ESPN's various networks and items appear to be frequently updated. Buffering is minimal, and most videos begin to play within a few seconds. The interface is easy to navigate, consisting of three large home screens, the left-most one giving you access to all of the additional features and content.
Some more features of ESPN on Xbox 360 include scoreboards, chatting with up to seven friends during games, and "Predict the Winner," an option that lets the viewer choose the winner of a current game and compare the results with other Xbox Live users.
Zune music functionality has been beefed up in the new update, allowing users to subscribe to Zune Pass, which provides unlimited streaming of millions of songs. These tracks can also be searched through the service while Smart DJ will create customized playlists generated by your unique musical taste. The program will also recommend tunes your Xbox Live friends are listening to.