Here is a roundup of first impressions on Xbox LIVE Dashboard update (Fall 2011) from various sites/blogs,
Overall, the new UI is a refreshing and much-needed update to 2008’s New Xbox Experience, itself the first major revision after its “Blades” interface from launch. Menu navigation is much quicker, the voice search overall picked up what we were saying, and as a bonus it now has more natural language input — you can now say “play Modern Warfare 3″ as opposed to “play disc,” for example. It wasn’t flawless, of course, but it makes a stronger case for Kinect’s microphone capabilities. The “hover hand” to wave open apps is still there, and yes, it’s still painful to the point of uselessness. Hey, at least it’s fun with The Gunstringer.
- Excellent, fun voice integration
- Sleek, intuitive “Metro” interface
- Comprehensive cross-catalog search
- Practical social features (Beacons)
- Voice can be overpowered by media playback
- Controller still required for delicate operations
The Xbox Dashboard’s 2011 update is possibly the finest revision the console has seen. It’s intuitive, easy to use, fun and a reason to own a Kinect sensor.
Going forward, the Xbox could replace the need for a second set-top box in the household, but as Peter Kafka has mentioned before, it’s not a service for customers looking to cut the cord. In order to stream live TV, or watch movies, you’ll either have to pay for a subscription — like Veirzon FiOS or Comcast’s Xfinity — or pay a la carte.
What’s perhaps the boldest change in the new Xbox software update is something that’s been building for a long time: the Xbox is not all about the games anymore. Seriously, in the hierarchy of categories, Games comes after Social and Video. That’s purposeful. Along with the new software update, there’ll be a ton of great looking, Metro-inspired new ‘apps’ from different content partners too. From HBO Go to UFC to FiOS to Crackle to YouTube, VEVO, TMZ, MLB.tv and more, you don’t even have to buy one video game to enjoy an Xbox anymore. Combine those new apps with what’s already on the Xbox like Netflix and Hulu Plus and the Xbox 360 is realizing and embracing its potential as much more than a game console.
For gamers, that may be annoying. For the rest of us, say hello to the cable box of the future.
Most important in this move is Microsofts tacit admittance that they are gunning for the living room. By adding Comcast and FiOS, for example, the Xbox becomes less a gaming console than a way for junior to watch TV at college or the Xbox to become the bedroom media player.
Google and Microsoft are clearly in a cold war for the couch. While many have paid lip service to the effort to “colonize the set-top,” this new Xbox update is a clear effort to change the way people look at the Xbox and could be the first step in a new, more powerful Xbox with better DVR and media browsing experiences built-in. All of the big players have TV devices – Google TV, Apple TV, and now Xbox. Who will win – or whether there is a need for a clear winner – is anyone’s guess.
I’ll add more review conclusions as they come out.