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DesktopWeb FormText   x360 first impression from a non gamerSat, 17 Dec 2005 20:46:31 GMT # 

was able to get my hands on one and have spent 24 hours with it. being a nerd, i took notes of the experience. this post is just going to be a cleaned up version of those notes. but first, my gaming background for context. used to be a hardcore gamer growing up. had to give it up during college (grades) and never picked it back up ... basically 7 years off.

my excuse for getting the 360 is its Media capabilities. the primary reason for me to have it is to be able to understand and test for the Media Center Extender experience. i do think playing games are better than watching television, so i might play some games instead of watching TV. but the real question is, how did i manage to find a 360? initially, i wrote a screen scraping program to check online for me. that found a bundle on GameStop.com that i ordered. GameStop ended up cancelling that order because my shipping address was not my billing address. at that time, there were some public trackers written, so i just signed up for those : xbox360tracker.com and notify360.com. then i was able to snag another bundle from ToysRUs/Amazon. got a premium with 10 games for $1000. thats actually way more games than i need, so i'm going to offload most of them (have not opened them). my local ToysRUs said they would not return the games, and Amazon will only return the entire bundle. my options are to offload them as xmas gifts without receipts to local retailers for in store credit (i dont ebay). else i can try to pick up a non bundled system and then return the whole bundle to Amazon ... which i might do. bundles suck.

does it work? had this one running for 24 hours straight ... no lock up problems. granted, i've only been playing original xbox games, arcade, and 360 game demos. i don't notice the noise that the fans make, nor do i think that the heat is that bad ... at least not compared to my notebook and tablet pc. the power supply is large, and i wish that the cord between it and the 360 was a little bit longer so i could set it on the floor. as far as scratching discs going from horizontal to vertical, thats bogus, the game system is a good size ... you won't be moving it while playing. it is larger than i thought it would be, but not huge. using it on a standard tv, but it makes me want to go out and buy an HD projector setup.

hardware and accessories. it definitely needs more USB ports, unless it can be hubbed? with the wireless adapter, a portable music player plugged in, and when the xbox live camera comes out they will all be used. not to mention wired controllers ... wouldnt get them unless you are going to use them on a PC. don't like that the memory cards are not some standard format (lame). the wireless adapter supporting A,B,G is nice ... but i see myself getting rid of it for something faster for media. hoping that Linksys releases something soon, else i'm going to wire it and free up a USB port. the mid sized MCE remote is ok, but i prefer the full sized MCE remote. the 360 remote only controls the 360 and not my MCE PC, but my MCE remote can control both. the only problem is my MCE remote does not have the 360 button to turn it on, so i have to use a controller to turn it on ... or get my ass off the couch. don't know if the full sized MCE remote can be used to control both ... i would guess not? maybe its just because my MCE setup is older? oh yeah, i have an original xbox extender remote, and it can't be used to control either 360 or the MCE PC. then there are the controllers. i really like that the wired controller can be used on both the 360 and the PC ... the wireless needs to get a PC dongle to support this too. as far as gamepad controllers go, i really like these. i've pretty much hated all gamepad controllers (old school keyboard gamer), but these feel more natural than any others i've tried. the only annoyance is some of the old games used the white and black buttons (now left and right shoulder) ... so that is a little confusing ... one of the shoulder buttons should be marked black to distinguish. do like how the headsets connect to the controller, but they are crap quality. need behind the neck headsets with better headphone output and a noise cancelling mic. also, i don't think it works, but the MCE remote keyboard should be updated to work with the 360 too. finally, i cant wait for the xbox live camera to come out ... love cameras.

setup and installation. setting up the 360 was easy ... really like the HD cable that can also be used on standard TVs. entering the initial data was straight forward, so was getting the 360 on my WEP network, and setting up xbox live. it was a little annoying using the gamepad with the onscreen keyboard ... but not that bad. pairing the 360 with MCE was just as easy. point and click stupid. this is when i found out that my network needs to improve. i've got both the MCE notebook and the 360 wireless ... at least one of them should be wired, preferably both. i definitely see putting both on a wired network. anyway, got them paired, and was able to use the 360 as an Extender, but the experience wasn't so great with the 2 wireless hops (G network). thats just for MCE, the Wireless connection for xbox live works great.

backwards compat. own a handful of xbox games for no particular reason. those seem to play just fine. the console did connect to live and update for a couple of them, but it wasnt a big deal. the only thing that tipped me off to running on the next gen console was when the games ask for the white or black button usage. they do still work on live, but they miss out on the next gen game features. i.e. no acheivements, can't play your own music ... they don't even show up in your games list.

media. was able to stream music both from the MCE PC and my Tablet with Windows Media Connect. actually won an iRiver at PDC, so i hooked that up and have mostly been playing music from that. the first time i told it to Play All, it only grabbed the first 100 songs (lame), but the next time it actually played them all. i'm not sure if the 360 is supplying power to the iRiver through USB yet? i really like being able to play your own music in the games. just wish the remote would let me skip tracks without having to go to the guide. thats the problem of having the power to control the music ... wanting more power :) as explained in an earlier paragraph, i'll have to change my network setup to get the full media experience.

gamertags. what is the call sign that defines you? gamer score, rep, and achievements ... thats just evil. talk about making gaming an addiction. i've been chatting the mantra 'i am not my gamer score, my gamer score is not me'. that is serious kick ass. from the arcade games i've been playing, i'm already sucked into trying and pick off some of the easy achievements to get my gamer score up. 'i am not my gamer score'. making it available online ... evil :) the achievements are so tempting it has made trying to beat the game seem secondary. 'my gamer score is not me'.

live. threw my gamertag on the blog ... and about 10 minutes later i had a friend request! i was like who the hell is this? googled them and found out they really are my friend ... cool! anyway, the friend requests need to be personalized somehow so you can match up a gamertag with a real world name ... maybe it already does this and i just haven't seen it? haven't done any of the exchaning messages and stuff like that yet, but that looks sweet. being anti social, not sure how much i'll actually use it? prefer to frag in silent anonymity. anyway, i didn't get the full live experience in less than 24 hours.

points. wanted to get on the marketplace next, but needed some money/points. er, um ... its annoying that points aren't in dollar amounts. please explain why? i'm not into the whole customization thing, but nickel and diming people for themes is lame. also, i could not figure out how to buy points from xbox.com. had to enter my credit card info into xbox ... which was painful. of course, they want my credit card info there for micro payments ... but my preference is to purchase points at my desktop. no, i dont want to purchase them from a retail store either ... lame. also, it seems like the more points i buy, there should be some sort of discount? if not ... make them dollar amounts. did like that all the 360 games had trailers available. a handful of the 360 games even had demos ... awesome ... i think they all should. all of the arcade games had downloadable demos (but no trailers). the problem here is that downloading freezes everything. would prefer for downloads to happen in the background, and/or let them be queued. at least let me go and muck with music playback. when viewing items in the marketplace, how about some icons to distinguish : trailers vs demos, video size, demo vs full game, themes, etc... also, how about sorting by price, date, alpha. looked like there was a bug too where some of the arcade games were listed twice (for the same price). if i purchased one, then they both went away? also, the marketplace shows how anemic the harddrive is. in one night, i had the harddrive half full ... 20 gigs is a joke for 500 to 1 gig demos and high def trailers. love redvsblue.

live arcade. er, um ... i had to buy joust for me. zuma for the TS, and gauntlet for when i visit my dad. for $5 that is hard to pass up, even if i can get these free on PC emulators (any PC emulator add in wired XBox controller support yet?). add in achievements and live ... then they are a bargain. shied away from the $10 games though, thats the cutoff point when i actually expect it to be good. arcade is phenomenal, that is where it sells to just about anybody. serious, the TS and my mom love puzzles. my dad would love playing the old coin ops. who doesn't love playing classics? my nephews should be ok playing some of these games too. they are simple to control and not for mature gamers only. it makes it the console for everyone. well done. do wish that the purchased arcade games would be separated from the demos.

games. oh yeah ... it plays games. haven't really got the full 360 game experience yet. played some of the demos, and those are sweet. did spend a couple hours with Halo 2 and Fable (original xbox) ... and those are awesome ... but i just don't have the time to invest. when the game reviews complain about a game only having 20 hours of gameplay ... thats a bonus to me. that's why i'm going to offload most of the games from the bundle i got.

so that is my first 24 hours. overall ... i really like it, and i haven't even been able to experience a good chunk of it. when i get my network and MCE PC upgraded ... it'll get better. when i get some form of HD TV ... better. as game developers get accustomed to writing for the new hardware ... better. as more games get put on arcade ... better. as more people get consoles and the community builds ... better. i'm assuming MS can update the core OS over live too? when we are able to write WPF apps to be extended from MCE ... better. and what happens when MCE Vista comes out ... whoa! so how much did i like it? well ... it screwed up my workout schedule ... thats pretty much unheard of :) oh yeah ... when are we going to get .NET and Managed DirectX on this thing ...