It took me about six hits of the (X) button on my controller asking for a display of more avatars to realize that my XBox 360 was generating a random set every time. But I kept pressing it because it was so cool to watch the crowd of them run up to center stage and make gestures like 'hey over here, pick me!'.
I'm talking about the New XBox Experience, the new menuing and operating system for the XBox 360. It's actually very, very cool.
Feature-wise, the big fat hairy deal is streaming HD video on demand. XBox Live has obviated my need for AppleTV. I should say my desire for it because I don't need any of this - it's just another way to see the same 200 movies currently in rotation which I could get from FIOS.
But the real coup is that Microsoft has, in a fairly successful fashion now created a UI that I'm much more willing and likely to use in getting my content. I can tell you this right now, the new XBox 360 with the NXE has bridged the gap. Anybody who games on XBox Live will tell you that the gaming experience is excellent, but with regard to watching DVDs - meh. I'm really at the point at which I feel comfortable using it as a DVR. I know MSFT is dying to hear me say so, but I'm now actually looking at the reasonableness of getting a second box instead of going Blu-Ray. But there is no question whatsoever that I appreciate the speed and ease of use of NXE on the 360 much better than that for FIOS on Motorola DVR.
I went ahead and signed up for the Netflix free trial - which is my third go round with Netflix which we cut off when Blockbuster added their mail service. The "Instant" feature is the only one I'd really care about but the assumption was that I'd have a bigger library at Netflix than I do on FIOS. Not the case at all. Only about 7 of the top 100 rentals on Netflix are available for streaming to NXE. So big whoop on that. What I want is the big library.
Advances in this direction make me think moreso than ever that I really don't want to own half of the DVDs that are in my library. I'm really anticipating the ability to manage my clouds because I have own a hell of a lot of data, but nobody is coming close to that - except perhaps Carbonite. In the meantime, I'm still going to depend on DVD Planet for the depth of their library. Apple still rubs me the wrong way with their small perfections that don't scale. Yeah that's right MobileMe still doesn't work, and I'm buying all of my MP3s from Amazon nowadays. Apple still rules in podcasts.
If Amazon gets into NXE, it's all over for Netflix. I do wonder how it is that MSFT didn't consider that deal or try to make it happen. Speaking of which, does WalMart still sell MP3s for 83 cents? I'll be damned. 74 cents! And LaBelle has a new album out.
Anyway, I do want to now get the nextgen XBox with the big drive and HDMI connectors. That's the other big feature is that you can run games fully off the drive. Yes this software can sell hardware and move content. Nice job Microsoft.