XBox 360 - Initial Impressions

December 29, 2005
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I’ve spent my first day with my XBox 360.  Overall I really like the unit.  Well made and no overheating problems for me.

Here is what I liked:

  • The included wireless controller is very responsive and I like the XBox button.  The light around the XBox button on the controller signifies which controller you are.
  • You can finally turn the XBox on and off without having to push a button on the box itself.  Pushing the XBox button turns the unit on, and a menu item on the dashboard let you turn it off.
  • Graphics are incredible.  I only have Project Gotham Racing 3, but it looks amazing.  Even my XBox games look better since I can play them in 1080 HD.
  • XBox Marketplace is an interesting idea to allow the XBox to do things the PC can already do (like download demos and movies).
  • I purchased Geometry Wars (~5 USD) and it has earned all the kudo’s.  Amazing amount of fun.
  • XBox Wireless Network Adapter worked flawlessly out of the box and it attaches to the console very cleanly.
  • XBox Live integration from the ground up is fantastic.  I love that all games must contribute to my Live experience.
  • The controller allowing me to do voice chat while wireless is great too.
  • I really like that I can go back and forth from the game to the XBox dashboard easily by hitting the “XBox” button on the controller.  Sweet.

Needs improvement:

  • I ended up getting an XBox Wireless Network Adapter because the USB network adapters and Ethernet bridges all failed to work with the unit.  In truth, wireless should have been built into the box.
  • Being able to listen to music I have on my network machines is a great idea, but it requires XP.  I have my MP3 collection on a Windows 2003 box and Windows Media Connect will not install at all (something about no UPnP).  Unacceptable IMHO.
  • Media Center Extender in the box is another good idea, but the picture is unacceptable with 802.11G.  So a central game/tv experience is not possibly unless I hardwire or go to 802.11A.
  • The extender software is trying to be helpful I am sure, but when I go to use the music on the extender, it looks like it is skipping the music registered on my MCE and trying to attach to the data directly.  Because of the Media Connect not working with W2K3, this is a no go.  So no way to play my music (none of it is DRM’d…all MP3) on my XBox.  BIG DISAPPOINTMENT.
  • The controller has four shoulder buttons.  They have essentially moved the black and white buttons to shoulder buttons.  Great idea.  This incarnation of the controller is a bit too small for my Shrek-sized hands.  I keep hitting the second shoulder button accidently.  I expect Logitech to come out with a replacement that is superior (I use a Logitech XBox wireless controller for my XBox ‘classic’)

Overall, I give it a big thumbs up as a gaming machine.  It achieves the next-gen performance and fixes most of my complaints about the XBox “classic”.  If you can find one, pick it up.