Yesterday, Microsoft launched what they are calling “The New XBox Experience”, or NXE for short. It is, at the core, a system update to your existing XBox 360 that drastically changes the menu system, and adds support for Netflix, ripping games to the hard drive, and “Avatars” – their version of the Mii.
The Avatar on the left is me… As you can see, it’s a slightly more sophisticated version of the Mii. As of right now there are a few (three) games that will allow you to play as this little bugger. Creating one isn’t too difficult, and once done you can spend some time playing dress up too. Right now the clothing options are a bit sparse, but I’d expect that to change quickly as game devs jump on the bandwagon and offer branded shirts for your little guy to wear.
Netflix streaming is another neat toy added to the XBox’s repository of stuff it can do – and one that I expect to get a lot of use from. The interface is very Mac like, which is a plus, but you are unable to browse for content on it, which is a minus. You still must build your queue on your PC, and then the XBox will see it and allow you to play the movies – kind of cumbersome, really, but not too horrible I suppose. Works great for people who plan out their movie nights, but for those who just want to sit down, find a movie and watch it… Extra work. But, all considered, it’s a darn good service.
Finally, there’s the new UI – which I’m not really liking. It’s been re-done into some mash-up of Apples’ FrontRow and the PS3’s XMB. The whole thing is pretty, but messy. Some options, like friends list management, are not available from the normal menu, you gotta dig into the “other”, secondary set of menus to do that…
So far I’m not a huge fan – the old system worked just fine, this new one just seems like a hasty way to make aging hardware seem hip and current. I’m sure, over time, I’ll get used to it, but I still would rather they had allowed people to decide between using it and not using it.