Xbox 360 Fall 2012 Update Impressions

After a week of waiting, I got this year’s dashboard update for the Xbox 360. I’m one of the apparently few people who actually looks forward to the dashboard updates. See, my Xbox 360 is my main source of entertainment as well and I rely on the 360’s ability to stream content from my computer as well as its apps to watch shows and movies. I don’t even watch normal TV anymore and most of my time is spent on Netflix, Hulu Plus and YouTube. Since the introduction of apps last year, I’ve been wishing and hoping for Blip.TV, College Humor, and Dorkly apps. So when the new dashboard was outlined, I was excited when Internet Explorer was announced. It may not be apps but I could at least watch videos on those sites through the web browser. I’m also a bit OCD so a more organized interface and marketplace is also appealing to me.


Overall I’m pretty happy with the updates given to the dashboard but there’s still problems. First the good things. I like that more of the screen is being used for the icons. I like that everything is bigger and more clearer due to the text being more crisp and in contrasting fonts. I like the new Pins feature. If I’m going to bury something in a menu, at least let me customize it. I like that the bottom of the dashboard isn’t a solid color anymore. I can see my custom background image on the bottom again. I noticed that the menus tend to load quicker than before. This is also good. Also, the menu you get when pushing the Xbox button has been streamlined with one blade removed in the process. Finally, the Games Marketplace devotes a page each to On Demand, Arcade and Indie games, making things much easier to find.


Now for the bad. Most importantly of all, the Internet Explorer app sucks. I can’t watch videos from any of the three sites I mentioned before and as such, is useless to me. I don’t have much interest in checking my Facebook and Twitter from there so IE on the 360 is a missed opportunity. Continuing on, there are more ads than ever on the dashboard and it makes me wonder why I pay $60 a year for Xbox Live. Also, the metro layout is still a waste of space in my opinion. All these squares taking up space that I would rather see in a more minimalist setup that is less gaudy and allows me to see my background image. Xbox Music is useless since you have to pay $10 a month for it and I can’t use it while playing a game or just surfing online or browsing the dashboard and marketplace. They also removed the option to see all games at once regardless of them being an arcade, indie or retail title.


At this point the various attempts to fix the dashboard have all yielded benefits and problems. I think that Microsoft, for its next update, should bring back the two previous layouts, the blades and the NXE layouts, and allow gamers to choose between the three in the settings menu. Make a few tweaks so ads and some of the new features can be incorporated into the older layouts and let us choose what we want. I know many will want to go back to the NXE layout and a few would even go back to the blades layout. Allowing us to tweak some things like transparency for some aspects of the design and color themes would also be nice.


What do you think of the new Xbox 360 Dashboard update? Love it, hate it, impartial to it? Let me know what you think and why in the comments below!


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