XBox 360, Better Late Than Never

XBox 360

Well I finally got my hands on an XBox 360. While I’m sure I could have gotten one earlier if I wanted to pay up or go through more effort, I’ve been just checking in periodically with the Emeryville Best Buy and yesterday they had a premium unit and I bought it.

My intention in buying an XBox 360 was largely to use it for the extender technology. My home is currently being rewired with my Cat 6 network and I’ll end up with five TVs in the house. I’ll have TVs in my living room, home theater (in the attic), bedroom, kitchen and guest bedroom (no in room TV for the kids) and XBox 360 will be the thin client technology to pipe my media into each of these 5 TVs from my Media Center PC which resides in my home office up in the attic (once I can get a CableCARD approved Vista PC). My intention in buying an XBox 360 was not to use it for gaming as I’ve never been much of a gamer but instead to try it out for planned deployment in my media scheme as indicated above.

So my thoughts so far after about 12 hours of screwing around with the XBox 360?

1. It’s louder than I thought it would be and this is a bit of a negative. I think I’ll still be able to live with it and will get used to it, but it is louder than my HP873N Media Center PC.

2. I didn’t care for the cabling to connect it to your sound system and monitor. The audio and video cables can’t be separated and for those of us with home theater sound systems away from our plasmas on the wall, the cabling is not optimal. I’m assuming I can buy component extensions to put on the existing cabling to get the reach I need (if anyone can confirm this that would be great).

3. It could not be easier to set up.

4. I thought I was going to have no use for the games and I can see now that I was very very wrong about that. I bought two games with the unit, Project Gotham Racing 3 and Kameo Element of Power and they are simply amazing — breathtaking really. The HDTV graphics, the realism, the design and action. I’m sure I will be buying lots of new games for my XBox given how fantastic of a gaming experience it seems to be. Looks like I may have a little bit of gamer in me after all. The wireless controllers are great as well.

Overall I’m pretty happy with the unit but have not begin to put it through any testing at all as an extender unit. I also haven’t experimented around with the live stuff yet. I haven’t had time as I can’t quite seem to put PGR3 down. Anyone have any other suggestions on what games I should buy next?

Microsoft indeed has a hit on their hands. I hope to write up more substantive observations on the unit in the future.

Update: Also just bought Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland Game. Looks like Call of Duty might be next.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I was in the same boat with the component cables, i’m not sure why microsoft would go with short cables with male connectors. Just do a search on google for female to female component adapter. Trianglecables dot com sells the adapters for $4 a peice. As far as games, try call to duty and on the xbox arcade side try geometry wars and Zuma both very addicting (both have free trial versions)

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m curious as to why you’d buy a 360 to act as a media extender for each TV in the house. Isn’t a plain-old media extender cheaper, and wouldn’t it do everything you originally bought the 360 for?

  3. Thomas Hawk says:

    Anonymous #1, thanks for the tip on Trianglecables. I’ll do just that.

    Anonymous #2, I bought the 360 because it can stream HDTV and the other cheaper extenders cannot. I’m kind of an HDTV nut and when Vista HDTV enabled PCs are out later this year I will need this functionality.

    The gaming aspect to the Extender360 though is turning out to be quite cool and fun.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I suggest you check out Xbox Live Arcade. The best part of the system in my opinion.

  5. Overseer says:

    I second the Call of Duty 2 game. As for the extender portion, I just wish the 360 could natively play DivX/Xvid files without having to go through on-the-fly transcoding on the MediaCenter PC.

  6. Tuig says:

    I’ve got a 360 for a month or so now and I mostly like the experience. I play PGR3 and just completed the campaign for Call of Duty, not my type of game normally, but it was quite a good first game to play thru. I love the way they’ve improved Xbox live and the new Arcade, I love Mutant Storm reloaded.

    Since it’s sitting in my living room, next to my MCE PC, I have only done basic testing on the extender functionality to see if it works, and it does – but not my digital camcorder (Sanyo) .mp4 files nor does it play back the DVD’s I ripped to hard disk using My Movies.

    It’s pretty quiet when in Dashboard/Extender mode, but awfully noisy when playing games. I plan on getting one for the bedroom also, but I worry about keeping one profile – if I take a game up with me, I want to continue playing where I left, not needing different profiles. I’ll either get a memory card with my profile on it, or buy a core version and take the harddisk with me when I move from room to room… Not sure yet.

    Getting a male-to-female extension for the component connectors should not be a problem. If you can reach your screen with the cable, you can also consider to hook up the optical audio output on the Xbox-plug to your amp, if that is supported in your configuration.

  7. Brian Hoyt says:

    Get Fight Night Round 3. It is honestly like watching live fights on HBO.

  8. Willy says:

    Get a xbox live trial and download some arcade games such as Geometry Wars and Marble Blast Ultra. These are “crack” like addicting and easy to learn and play. The most suprising aspect of the 360 for me.

  9. Shawn Morton says:

    Glad to see you finally got one. As for games I would recommend Full Auto. I just got it Friday and I can’t stop playing it. It is like Burnout except with missles and machine guns.

  10. Aaron says:

    As for the cabling issue, there are third parties developing stuff that may help with that.

    I was disappointed with the noise also, although it is quieter than my old Xbox. I guess it’s difficult to get the price down and put the very best components inside. Quiet but fast DVD drives are hard to find and you need adequate cooling for that PowerPC chip or you’d have more crashing issues. I think people will be coming out with solutions to this. I think I saw someone rig up a liquid cooling setup, and of course you could place it in some sort of cabinet (with good airflow).

    Luckily with the arcade, HDTV, and extender technology I am willing to live with some of the drawbacks.

    Try the non MCE media extender (can’t remember it’s name), the visualizations are great, although a little too psychedelic. Plus you can play your own music with your games!

    The wireless controllers and ability to turn on and off the box from the controller is a 200% improvement. It takes much too much energy to get off the couch and press the button on the old Xbox.

  11. Shawn says:

    I won the 360 from Mt. Dew and agree with the earlier comment about Live Arcade. I can’t stop playing Geometry Wars. Fight Night is great too, but I have a feeling once I beat it, I’ll only play it when someone comes over. I’m really looking forward to Burnout Revenge. Stay away from Madden 06. It feels like they had some issues validating the product so close to launch and took out key functionality like mini-camps and instant replay. Kameo was fun, the Full Auto demo framed really bad in standard def. Decided to stay away from it because of that.

    I use the MCE part of it a LOT! Hooked up via ethernet to my MCE2005 in another room, I haven’t had a lot of problems other than streaming premium content from Movielink. That’s not ready for primetime in my opinion.

    And what the heck is up with not being able to stream internet radio from a PLS? This should be a no-brainer.

    I convinced my Dad to get a 360 just for the extender part of it. He’s SO excited about it!

  12. Anonymous says:

    i just bought an xbox 360 elite yesterday, all my friends were tellin me that the elite was suppose to run cooler than the core and premium packages, myelf i dont really see much difference, its still as loud and still jus as warm on back, the only difference is that its black and has a huge hard drive. maybe theres something wrong with mine?