The XrossMediaBar (also known as Cross Media Bar) is a graphical user interface found on both the Playstation 3 and Playstation Portable. The XrossMediaBar can also be found on various other non-gaming related Sony products.
The XMB is displayed in a horizontal and vertical cross display Each main category of the XMB is displayed horizontally from left to right. On the PS3 there are eight main categories:
The PSP categories are arranged in the same order, but do not include the options for "Users" and "Friends."
The user can navigate through the categories with either the D-pad or the analog stick. After selecting a category, sub-features appear stacked vertically underneath. These sub features can range from settings controls to selecting your game, movie or music. This list can be scrolled through by using the D-pad or analog stick. By selecting one of these features, your game will start, your movie or music will play, or, if there is more than one option available, a vertical list will appear on the right side of the screen, displaying more information and options.
Features on the XMB can be arranged in folders. By pressing triangle over a feature you can modify, delete or learn more about it. For example, you can delete a game directly from the XMB or you can learn more about it by selecting Information, which will direct you towards a game's web site.
While playing a game, you can make the XMB appear by pressing the "PS" Button. The XMB's features are limited to looking at your friend's list, launching another game or selecting music when the bar is brought up during gameplay. The playing of music is not available in all PS3 games. On the PSP, it is not possible to bring up the XMB during gameplay.
Over-top of the XMB is the "Info Bar." This bar gives the user additional information such as date and time, a display of their avatar, the number of friends currently online, and an indication as to whether or not their are unread messages in their inbox. A clock icon will appear next to the time and will start spinning when the system is loading or processing. There's also a "What's New" tab relays information on new features and updates on the PlayStation Network. Most of these features are only available when the system is connected to the internet.
The XMB GUI first appeared in Japan on December 13, 2003 along side the PSX. To date, the XrossMediaBar has been used in most of Sony's products such as the Bravia line of LCD TV's, some Cybershot cameras and multiple high-end AV receivers. The most recent Sony product to use the XMB was the VAIO computer line. Sony also intends to implement XBM in their next line of Sony Ericsson mobile phones. Q-Games
(the same company behind for the PixelJunk
franchise) are credited for the XMB stylized background, graphics technology, and the built in music visualizers.
Awards and Accolades
The XrossMediaBar won the 2006 Technology & Engineering Emmy Award for "Outstanding Innovation and Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for the Best Use of Personal Media Display and Presentation Technology."
In 2007 Sony allowed users to change the background on the XMB. This allowed the user to use a picture saved on your hard drive or a wallpaper obtained from the PSN store.
When Firmware 2.00 was released, it added the ability to choose between a selection of background colors. The Firmware also brought custom themes to the Playstation 3, changing the look of both the background, icons and sounds of the XMB.
Around the time Sony launched the PS3 Slim, Sony released Firmware 3.00 which changed the logo of the Playstation 3 but also added a sparkling effect in the background. The sparkles react to the SIXAXIS controls and also reacted to a user scrolling through a list of icons.
Changing Color Schemes
When the Playstation 3 is left to its default background and theme, the background color will change as the months of the year progress. The major color changes happens on the 15th and the 24th each month. Depending on the time of day the the color will change accordingly, where midday will be the brightest.
Sony released an official PlayStation 3 theme creator which allows users to store images and sounds inside a .pt3 file on the system itself, or the user has to option to save it to a website.
Users can also download themes straight from the PlayStation 3 web browser and save them directly onto the hard drive.
Dynamic Themes were introduced in Firmware 3.0, which allows the use of animated themes to run in the background. As the name implies "Dynamic Themes" feature motion similar to an advanced screensaver, rather than a static, non-changing theme.