Why I'm Anticipating the "New Xbox Experience" (NXE)

Ever since the news of no Spring 2008 update, Fanboys all over were up in arms as why Microsoft  is "jipping" them part of their promised semi-annual update to thier Xbox 360 consoles -- myself included. Then a little while after, Microsoft unveiled what was essentially a radical, sleek, sexy, and new design for the Dashboard -- dubbed the "New Xbox Experience." And since that time, small news stories have been trickling out which make me more and more excited for the inevitable Fall 2008 release (likely in November). So, why am I excited? Here's my reasons:

  • 8-Person Party
Sounds like a small feature at first, but it's actually going to make life 10x easier for me. With the ability to have yourself and seven others in a party, you can chat and seamlessly launch games together -- all without ever leaving. This happens universally across all Xbox 360 games.

  • Photo Sharing
In addition to parties, you can now share photos with your friends with real-time slideshows. Although not much is known on this feature, it has been confirmed. First session, Adriana Lima.

  • Avatars
    New Xbox Experience
First and foremost, let me get something down; I'm not a homosexual nor a casual gamer (although I have nothing against either). However, I welcome the addition of Avatars, giving my console a nice personal touch, and a mini-me (in cartoon land) greeting me everytime I turn it on. Fun little additions in games, and customizability from developers are looking very promising.

  • Primetime
Scheduled gameshows and contest will be airing weekly - which you can access via the new Dashboard. You can either watch, or participate for prizes (likely registration required) in the contests or gameshows. Currently supported is 1vs100 ... which will use your Avatars. Great feature for the XBL community.

  • Installing/Copying Games to HDD
A simple feature, that allows you to copy an entire game to the HDD for (a) improved loading times and (b) less noise from the console. While us 20 GB owners only have room for one, maybe two installs, it's still a nice feature to have. Plus, I may upgrade later on.

  • Less Intrusive Ads
Something that really bothered me about the current Dashboard, and that was the incredibly large and obstructing ads that were plastered all over. This new sexy design limits ad space, and keeps with the Dash looking much cleaner (and less like my console has Adware on it).

  • Dashboard Re-Design
Quite honestly, I was never a fan of the "blades." Now, the Dashboard is getting a complete design overhaul to include a wonderfully sexy new layout - which takes credit to Apple (i.e. CoverFlow) and Windows for certain aspects. Everything has sleek transitions and flows quite nicely, while making it easier to navigate through 1000's of pieces of content.

  • New Guide
The new Xbox 360 guide (big "X" button) is completely redesigned to be faster, easier to use, and feature filled. Mimicking the current "blade" system, it'll make 360 veterans feel at home.

So that's it. Features such as Netflix aren't available to Canadians, so that's left out. This is going to be one amazing update -- and I can't wait for it to come. Being an Xbox 360 owner since launch, I welcome this change. What's your most anticipated feature?

Pre-Ordered Gears of War 2

So, today I stopped by an EB Games on my way home from class, and pre-ordered Gears of War 2 LE. I was contemplating whether or not to get the regular, but I'm hoping EPIC Games can pull off a nice case (which is mostly the reason I stick with regulars), and make it easy to open, take out the disc, and close. My last LE (Halo 3) had a horrific case. Anyway, I was guaranteed a copy on launch, or so he said. Looking forward to playing any and all of you on November 7th and onwards.

EDIT: I downgraded my pre-order for two reasons; (1) lighter/better case, and (2) no need for the extra content. When it comes down to it, I'll never use, or even look at that bonus stuff. Plus, I get an extra lunch now ... yay.

Gears of War 2 Standard Edition