Alan chronicled his hands-experience with the Xbox 360 over one week in a diary-like format. Learn about his impressions of the hardware and Xbox 360 through this diary-like format. Find out how many bugs he found or how many times his Xbox 360 crashed inside!
We tried to use 720p whenever possible, but if there was too much motion for the capture device, we dropped down to 480p. We used the VGA cable from Monster Cable
and the Epiphan VGA2USB.
Be sure to check out the shots from NBA Live 06.
The Xbox 360 Premium arrived today via USPS. The shipper did a poor job packaging the unit so there was a big gash in the box, but thankfully the interior of the box was intact. So the plan for this article is to use the Xbox 360 while I have my laptop beside me. Iíll write about things as they happen. Itíll be unfiltered and it'll represent my raw impressions of the Xbox 360 experience. After all the writing is done, Iíll go back and add page breaks, section headings, and pictures. For our screenshots, weíre trying out a new VGA framegrabber. It doesnít work as well as weíd like because it doesnít capture fast enough (it only works when you can freeze the frame) and the aspect ratio isnít perfect. Still, it does give you a chance to look at some high-definition gaming. Remember, all of these shots are REAL screenshots *not* data pulled from the frame buffer using a developer unit. You may see feathering or what appears to be dithering artifacts. These artifacts are caused by our capture hardware and are not present in the source.
The boot-up splash screen is similar in feel to the original Xbox only that itís shorter. Audio for this portion is 2-channel, but the real presentation begins with the new Xbox 360 Dashboard. Whoever Microsoft hired to do this dashboard deserves a Holiday bonus this year. Things are logically laid out and itís intuitive to navigate between Xbox Live, Gaming content, Media content, and Configuring your system.
As bad as Microsoft once was when it came to human computer interaction design, things like Windows Media Center 2005 and the Xbox 360 show us just how sophisticated Microsoft has gotten. Powering on the Xbox from the remote works perfectly whether youíre using the infrared remote control or the 2.4GHz based wireless gamepad. The auto-synchronization of the wireless gamepad is also a superb feature. Though I have to wonder how the wireless system will cope with multiple Xbox 360ís in the same vicinity Ė I really can get a 30 foot range.
Knowing that I have the rest of the week to play games, Iím actually going to focus some time on looking at all the non-gaming stuff first since most other reviews haven't gone into too much detail about that. This starts with configuring my Xbox.com account. A USB keyboard works perfectly here. One of the cool features of synchronizing your profile with Xbox Live is that you can set preferences such as whether you want a manual or automatic transmission, inside or outside view in racing games or if you use an inverted Y-axis for your first-person shooters. This is a global setting that follows you everywhere you go as long as developers remember to check those settings.
The coolest new feature of the Xbox Live Marketplace is the ability to download free game demos and free high-definition game trailers. Since theyíre coming from Microsoft servers, the download speed is pretty good although I imagine that things could get worse as more people get Xbox 360ís. While downloading will resume after abort, it doesnít look like youíre able to download content in the background which is a substantial oversight. I suppose they were worried about saturating the 100 MBps network card, preventing you from playing online games, but there should have been a way to play offline games, or at least cue several downloads at once so that you can grab all your demos overnight.