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XBox 360 launches new Xbox Live online entertainment service


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#1 of 7

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Posted December 06 2011 - 04:06 PM

For all of those of you that have your XBox 360 connected to the Internet, you should be receiving a new major facelift to the interface.  The release was supposed to be widely released today, but there were some difficulties on getting the update to all users.


What's in this release, nothing really for gaming, but alot for the streaming video user!  Xbox Live online entertainment service that will allow subscribers to watch a wide array of mainstream television programming from the Xbox 360 console.


Rather than fumbling with traditional remote controls and the primitive program guides of cable boxes, Xbox Live users will be able to search for shows using voice commands and hand gestures, if they also have the popular Kinect peripheral for the Xbox.  Granted, you could "talk" to the XBox 360 before, but key things like "pause" and "play" were not supported.  Do you still need to learn the XBox voice "keyword" commands, yes...

The XBox update is using the Metro interface, that was debuted with Windows Phone, and is also being used in Windows 8.  If you are a frequent NetFlix user, you will have to dig a little to find the NetFlix application.... It is now in the "applications" section.  Don't know if that makes the most sense, but it is there and it is an entirely different UI, done pretty much from the Netflix team.  It's very similar to Netflix's web based interface, I am not yet a fan of it.  Particularly if you simply want to see a description of a movie.  The dang thing starts queuing up the movie and and THEN displays the description.  So much for being efficient with your time.

Later this month, Microsoft will begin adding dozens of other sources of programming to the service, including Verizon FiOS, Comcast’s Xfinity and HBO. After the rollout, the few online video services that have been on Xbox Live for some time, including Netflix and Hulu Plus, will be able to be retrieved using voice searching and other methods.  Search will also be converted over to use Bing's search engine, which should result in much more relevant search results.


Microsoft’s deal with cable and content providers stops short of making it possible for people to ditch their traditional pay-television packages; people will still need to pay the cable providers to get channels through the Xbox. They will also have to pay the roughly $60 a year Microsoft typically charges for a Xbox Live Gold subscription.  However, if you are are among the lucky the have Comcast, getting the ESPN channel and being able to watch a game that you can't watch through your traditional method on the TV, this is pretty nice.


The expansion of services that will roll out is nonetheless significant because there are more than 35 million worldwide subscribers to Xbox Live, making the Xbox one of the most common Internet-connected boxes in living rooms. And it is part of a growing effort by media companies to bring some 21st-century pizazz to the experience of navigating and watching television, a medium that is largely watched using traditional remote controls and set-top boxes that have changed little in the past 10 years.


Most cable boxes require viewers to navigate through primitive on-screen program guides, pressing buttons on their remotes to scroll through the vast lists of shows. The process is especially jarring for a generation of people who are accustomed to the slick graphics and responsiveness of more modern devices, like the Xbox and the iPad.


Another cool feature is the integration with Windows Phone 7.  If you HAVE a Windows Phone 7, check out the integration on the video below.  It's actually pretty cool!


http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/






#2 of 7 DaveF

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Posted December 06 2011 - 10:38 PM



Originally Posted by Kevin Collins 


Microsoft’s deal with cable and content providers stops short of making it possible for people to ditch their traditional pay-television packages; people will still need to pay the cable providers to get channels through the Xbox. They will also have to pay the roughly $60 a year Microsoft typically charges for a Xbox Live Gold subscription.  However, if you are are among the lucky the have Comcast, getting the ESPN channel and being able to watch a game that you can't watch through your traditional method on the TV, this is pretty nice.




I"m curious and don't yet understand what it offers.


If it's a deal where I can pay $60/yr to have the privilege of paying more money per year for channels, as with Netflix requiring Gold, then it seems a bust to me. And there's also the question of how this interacts with my Tivo and TV and Blu-ray. If it only complicates the living room experience, I won't care.


But if at $60/yr it could give me shows I can't otherwise watch currently, maybe in an on-demand type fashion, saving the hassle of buying and watching Blu-rays, not having to get Netflix or an AppleTV, then that is promising.



#3 of 7 Dave Scarpa

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Posted December 07 2011 - 03:59 AM

Most of these partnerships are worthless, I mean whats good about having to already have Comcast or HBO to use these services, kinda defeats the point, might as just watch them from the existing DVR. I cut the cord last month, I'm not going back. If MS was able to offer me these services for a cost I might bite
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Posted December 07 2011 - 04:53 PM



Originally Posted by DaveF 




I"m curious and don't yet understand what it offers.


If it's a deal where I can pay $60/yr to have the privilege of paying more money per year for channels, as with Netflix requiring Gold, then it seems a bust to me. And there's also the question of how this interacts with my Tivo and TV and Blu-ray. If it only complicates the living room experience, I won't care.


But if at $60/yr it could give me shows I can't otherwise watch currently, maybe in an on-demand type fashion, saving the hassle of buying and watching Blu-rays, not having to get Netflix or an AppleTV, then that is promising.



Yes, you do get on-demand movies that otherwise are not currently available, the best example of that is ESPN channel.  But that isn't what's new, that has been there already.


Part of the focus in this update is on partners. These include UFC, HBO Go, and a number of other content providers as well as a 25-channel HD line up from Verizon FiOS and another selection of channels from Comcast. Keep in mind that there is no DVR function yet and no real scheduling system, but that is because the stuff is mostly on demand.


It would be interesting to have someone that has FIOS see what is there, even though that isn't scheduled to roll out till a little later.




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Posted December 07 2011 - 04:55 PM



Originally Posted by Dave Scarpa 

Most of these partnerships are worthless, I mean whats good about having to already have Comcast or HBO to use these services, kinda defeats the point, might as just watch them from the existing DVR. I cut the cord last month, I'm not going back. If MS was able to offer me these services for a cost I might bite


If you cut the cord, then this seems like a value proposition for you.  They are offering the services to you for a cost.  $60/year.  Of course, there is other features you get, but those are for the gamers.




#6 of 7 DaveF

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Posted December 08 2011 - 01:39 AM



Originally Posted by Kevin Collins 
Yes, you do get on-demand movies that otherwise are not currently available, the best example of that is ESPN channel.


I don't watch sports so even free ESPN doesn't interest me (thought others, it could be a big draw).

Originally Posted by Kevin Collins 
If you cut the cord, then this seems like a value proposition for you.  They are offering the services to you for a cost.  $60/year.  Of course, there is other features you get, but those are for the gamers.

It looked like you had to have a cable sub in order to then get HBO Go and other services. That is, you have to pay money so you can pay money to get this Xbox service. Or cut the cord and can't use it??


If one's Xbox is almost always on -- you're an avid gamer -- then this makes it more convenient to get to interesting programming. And if you've already paid the Live fee, this is just bonus. For me, the Tivo is the main interface; I'll go to the 360 to play a game but it's in no way convenient to watch programming.


If the Xbox could completely subsume the role of a Tivo / Blu-ray / etc, that could a boon to me. But as I look at this, it seems like it doesn't serve my needs.



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Posted December 08 2011 - 03:42 AM

I didn't participate in the beta of the XBox 360 this time, so I never did see all of this before it actually went live, but had plenty of good friends that were on the beta.  One of the complaints that I heard from them was that the Netflix experience was pretty bad.  Unlike the previous Netflix version, which was done more internally at MS, this version, now termed an application, was done solely by Netflix.

It doesn't seem that many users are too happy with it.  I stopped my entire Netflix membership months ago when they announced the pricing changes, there just wasn't a value proposition for me.  I moved over to Redbox as I mainly used Neflix for Blu-Ray rental and the Redbox model served my needs more, pay as you go model vs subscription model.

It seems that Netflix users are reporting the same "issues" on the Netflix blog that many of my friends reported in the beta.


The primary complaints appear to focus around the elimination - without any notice - of a few key features that previously existed: group-watching parties, re-starting from the beginning of a title, easy pause/re-start, one-click jump-to fast-forward and re-wind and listing of the year a movie was released.


There is also lots of grumbling about new features which are considered either clumsy or superfluous: auto-starting TV shows when simply in browsing mode, inability to easily change display size, unwanted noises that accompany all navigation steps and unwatched titles being added to "Recently Watched" lists.


Anyone HTF members used this?  Thoughts?






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