The New Xbox 360 Experience In-depth Review

Article Index

Features: Netflix and Party System

Netflix & Instant Queue
Another highly touted upgrade that came with the Xbox experience update is the ability to stream Netflix directly to the Xbox.  The two ‘catches’ with this are you must have a Netflix subscription and a Gold membership to Xbox Live. Luckily, we have both, so we selected the Netflix Icon. All it asks is to enter a activation code for your Netflix account. We entered the code, and in less than a minute our instantly viewable queue appeared.

It is very easy to navigate through the queue, and selecting a movie or series in your queue gives you a wealth of information such as, how much you’ve watched, reviews, information about the movie, the various episodes in a series, and your own personal rating. We decided to check out the experience with an episode of Jericho.

Control of the show while watching is very similar to watching a DVD, you have basic controls that can easily be navigated via the Xbox controller.  Video quality was on par with streaming from the computer, which equates to about DVD quality. As for HD content, it looked excellent. As Netflix continues to roll out more and more HD content, being able to stream directly to the TV without using the Xbox as a media extender is going to make catching up on our favorite shows much easier and more pleasurable.  While watching was an easy-going experience that will no doubt be appreciated by the technically inept among us, this is clearly a first iteration. There is no ability to search content other than that already in your queue (which if you update, takes only about 30 seconds to appear on the Xbox). This can prove frustrating as the computer is still necessary to keep the queue updated.  It will be interesting to see where Netflix takes this partnership in the future. This is definitely a step forward in creating a one stop media and gaming experience out from the Xbox.

Party System
Another addition to the new experience is the ability to create parties out of an individual game. This allows groups of people to stay in voice chat, jump between games together, and even stream and watch movies together.  We tried out the party system and for the most part, it worked well. One thing to keep in mind is that partying together, especially using voice chat, does consume additional bandwidth.  So if you are on a slower internet connection, going into parties in games like Halo 3, where lag can significantly distort your experience, may not be advisable.

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