To my surprise, I was invited on Friday to check out the... ugh... I hate saying it--New Xbox Experience. This is in fact, the largest dashboard update since the release of the console and it is a little reminiscent of the Windows Media Center program. But really, everyone just wants to know if it's good or not, and guess what? It's good.
Guide ButtonThe time it takes to open and the guide bar/blade thingy has been decreased and it is much easier to manage things. This was a much thanked improvement to me, because I am constantly using the guide button to send invites and manage messages and friend requests. Not only is the guide button faster; it is also more convenient to jump from arcade game to dashboard to video and to the game in the disc tray with the handy 'Quick Launch' button. You can access just about anything from the Guide Button and it's a snap to use, and don't worry, none of the features from the orginal guide have been sacrificed in the making of this new one.
Main Dashboard InterfaceNext off, the interface. It's what you would expect if you've ever used Windows Media Center, but I doubt you have. There are several different rows of categories replaced by the blades in the dashboard including Game Marketplace, Video Marketplace, Friends, Spotlight and Inside Xbox, both which show unnecessary information that you probably don't care about, and last but not least, the "My Xbox" section. This area shows you the current game in the tray, a preview of your Gamercard with your avatar, a list of recently played games, your music, video, and picture libraries and system settings. All of your themes that you regretfully will thankfully work with the new dashboard.
MarketplaceThe Live Marketplace has been screaming for an interface-lift (see what I did there?) for a long time and at last, it is here. When looking for what you want rather than scrolling through the tons of game listings, you can browse by alphabet making the search for Drillbit Taylor Gamer Pictures and that old Arcade game that you missed out on a snap and if you want to find a good section to find music game DLC, you got one. More than just a clean-up for the entire store, they have finally added a center to find community games made by their XNE program (Game Creators Club, not to be confused with NXE) users and most or all of the games run at/under 400 points. This could end up being a pretty neat service if Microsoft pays attention and lets people know that it actually exists.
Nothing has really changed specifically to the Video Marketplace, but if you have a Netflix account, you can watch a bunch of non-Live specific content via streaming. The amount of viewable movies and TV shows is still growing and if this gets really popular, that would be awesome.
AvatarsI'm sure that you can imagine how they work. Really, they aren't that special.
Game InstallationsIf you have a hard drive that is between 60-120GB, you can feel justified by installing your huge games to it. You would think that the big advantage to this is smaller load times, but there is not much difference except a few more seconds not waiting. The big deal here is that your 360 will be quiet as hell. I highly suggest installing a game like Dead Space, Condemned, or anything that is supposed to be erie so the quiet atmosphere can be truly realized. The only game that I recall where load times become longer is Halo 3, which is kind of weird.
Parties (Party Chat)To be honest, I haven't used this feature yet because there are only a couple people out of about seventy on my friends list that have the update so far.
ReviewUnnessacary, but I'm doing it anyway.
Pros & Cons+Going from game to dashboard is a breeze
+Super-fast Guide button
+You can make Avatars burp!
+Game Installs make stuff quiet
-No 1 vs. 100 yet. (lol, I kid)