I have suffered as much pain and heaped as much hatred in Redmond’s general direction as the next battle hardened veteran geek, but man, this console is home entertainment done right.
Out of box hook up couldn’t possibly be any easier. Plug the power brick into the wall and the Xbox360, plug the HDMI cable into your TV, plug the ethernet cable into your network and away you go. It’s that simple.
Network setup was beyond trivial – the unit set itself up properly despite my somewhat complex home network configuration (I have a Linksys and a Buffalo wifi router both running WDS, one doing NAT duties for the house) and was talking to Xbox Live and downloading updates immediately.
I bought the Elite model, with the 120GB HD, so it comes with ‘auto download’ turned on. I rather like this (Some would find it annoying I’m sure) as it means that my console is pre-seeded with all the latest demos so I can play all the hot new games to get an idea of what they’re like before buying.
And wow, the picture quality with this thing and a nice HD set is impressive. I’m finding that video from the XB360 looks much better than HD video from cable (I’m guessing this is a result of the compression I keep hearing that cable companies like Comcast use.). I only have Bioshock and Mass Effect thus far, and that they look amazing probably goes without saying given the hype around them before and after their release.
Another aspect of the XB360 experience I’m rather fond of are ‘zones’ – your choices are Recreational, Family, Pro, and Underground. This means that folks like me who are exceedingly unlikely to spend 22 hours straight playing Halo to hone their attack skills aren’t pitted against people who haven’t seen the sun in the last few years.
I was also surprised to see the depth and breadth of decidedly casual games in the ‘arcade’ section, for people who eschew shooters and the ‘temple of twitch’ style of gaming. Old board gaming standards like Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and Lost Cities are notable in their presence, as well as a bunch of arcade classics I was pleased to see being introduced to new generations of gamers (Like Gauntlet and Joust. Blue Valkyrie needs food badly! 🙂
Anyway, my gamer tag is ‘forthewyn’ in case anyone else out there has an Xbox and cares to add me to their friend list.