Category Archives: Recreation

Recreation

Netflix Streaming via NXE

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Setup:

15Mbit download (tests to 11Mbit at http://speedtest.net) via FTTH connection.

46″ 1080P Sony Bravia (not XBR, year-old model)

So, I’ve signed up for the free netflix trial to test out streaming to the 360. Frankly, after renting titles from the video marketplace the netflix version looks horrible in comparison. In subjective terms it looks to be about the same quality as youtube.  If you’re familiar with the netflix instant play option via PC, it looks about the same. In playing, it’s quicker than the xbox video marketplace as it doesn’t have to buffer as much. I suspect that on a standard definition television it would be quite sufficient and look similar to VHS.  It gave me ‘two bars’ on video quality testing. I recently requested an upgrade to 30Mbit down (they offer up to 60Mbit but it’s $100/mo), so hopefully that will go through soon and I can update you on whether that improves things, though I doubt the majority of people have such speeds available in the US.

UPDATE (12/05/08): Ok, so there are a few select titles that they currently offer in HD, which buffers quickly and looks great in comparison to the above. It’s not very straightforward on the netflix page which titles can stream in HD, but basically it seems that you have to go to the ‘blu-ray’ genre and look for the disks that offer ‘play it now’. I guess that would seem to make sense, but I don’t imagine they get their HD streaming content off of the Blu-Ray disc itself so I’m not sure why they’re coupled. For example, they could just as easily offer a link to the HD streaming from the DVD version of the title, or offer a section where you can browse just movies that can stream in HD.  If the plain streaming weren’t so unwatchable I wouldn’t car as much, but at this point the only streaming worth watching are the HD titles offered through Netflix and the titles offered through XBOX Live marketplace.  I believe they’re just getting the hang of this and just came out of beta, so I look forward to improvements in this regard.

Recreation

The New Deal, er… Experience

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Ok, so this is more of a recreational post, but we can have one of these once in awhile, right?  I, like many others, downloaded the much awaited fall XBOX update, dubbed the ‘NXE’, or New XBOX Experience.  I don’t care much for the new avatar system, I could take it or leave it, but it’s not too bad and not really overbearing and ‘in your face’ aside from actually forcing you to create one. If I had to like one thing about it, it’s the fact that my gamer pic is now of the avatar looking heroically upward and to the right, rather than the blue snail that I so entusiastically chose from the anemic default options of the older system.

I haven’t had a lot of time to play with it, but I like the new interface much better than the blades. It opens the functionality up. For example, the ‘Iron Man’ rental from the video marketplace shows up and is visible without being out of place or looking like it’s in a designated ad spot that we’ve all been trained to ignore, whereas before I don’t think most people even realized they could rent movies.

I look forward to trying out the Netflix streaming, too.  I may update this post with my experiences on that, since it seems that most people have been looking forward to that feature the most.

I did run into a bit of a bug, I had previously had it connected to my linux server for streaming my movie collection. It still works, but it had me download the codecs package again, which there was some weirdness with. It acted as though I needed to download it, I got prompted to install it, then it showed it was installed but did not work. Then I went into the prompt to install again, where it was checked as downloaded and installed already. I selected it, and got ‘to use this feature, please launch the game that it was intended for’, or something to that effect. Instead, I opted to reinstall, and that time it actually showed it downloading, installing, and then it worked.

In all, though, I’d say this refresh was a good move.