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Beautiful Hardware, Beautiful Software

This morning I attended the Microsoft Xbox 360 Breakfast seminar; the session was Standing Room Only, with a few thousand more people watching by webcast. I went in person because you can't eat a donut through the monitor.

Some of the details presented were confidential, and a lot of it you had to see to believe. Please allow me to tell you what I can tell you.

I really hadn't been following the leaks and dribs and drabs of footage obsessively, so the 360 game trailers were astounding. High-definition makes a huge difference, especially when projected from a prototype console directly onto a 20-foot-wide screen. Two of the trailers I saw are publicly available in crappy low-res versions: Ghost Recon 3, and Madden NFL 2006. The online versions don't come close to showing the actual quality of the games. As for the unreleased PGR3 trailer, I can only say, "Oh my. Oh MY GAWD!" You'll just have to take my word for it. I spit coffee on the guy sitting in front of me.

The wireless controllers being standard didn't seem like that big a deal to me when I first heard about it. I'm a married man, so I can admit this: I was wrong, so very very wrong. The white wireless controllers are beautiful, a marked improvement over the big black things that shipped with Xbox1. The controller is sized for tiny Japanese hands, unlike the black, made-for-American-hands controllers. The controllers have a power button right at the top (the 360 button), so you never need to get off the couch to power up a game or to access the Live functions. Big improvement right there.

Likewise the customizable faceplates and in-game soundtracks are better than I thought they would be. I just didn't think they mattered much until I saw them in action. Some pieces of technology only make sense when you see them working. In this case, your Xbox really is YOUR Xbox: music, movies, photos, whatever. I know when I play racing games, I want to hear Lanterna or other instrumental racing music. I don't have to rip the tunes onto the Xbox though; apparently I can grab it from my home network. Pretty sweet.

The most interesting thing about the 360 is the part that is perhaps least tech-ish. Geeks don't usually spend a lot of time talking aesthetics. But the 360 is a beautiful piece of technology. The box footprint is small, and the UI, the integration, the look of the whole package is so buttery smooth. It feels like a Mac console, and I mean that as a compliment.

There's only one gaming rig that will kick ass this Xmas, and it's the Xbox 360. I'm a believer.



( 4 sutras — Your wisdom )
Jun. 25th, 2005 03:56 am (UTC)


Jun. 25th, 2005 03:53 pm (UTC)
I can see what I'm getting frabjousdave for Christmas!
Jun. 25th, 2005 03:57 pm (UTC)
First let me observe for the record something tha tyou yourself will admit: geek.

Second: You said "The controller is sized for tiny Japanese hands, unlike the black, made-for-American-hands controllers." To which I respond: "Maybe, in a market-savvy move, Uncle Bill decided that smaller controllers might appeal to women—a still relatively small portion of the market—who often have smaller hands than the typical console gamer." But that's just tiny-handed me....

It feels like a Mac console, and I mean that as a compliment.

As a longtime Mac owner, I can only smile and be silently pleased.
Jun. 28th, 2005 06:51 am (UTC)

I hope they come out with some really good turn based anime-like rpgs. that would make my day and same me some money. if not it means i'll be buying a ps3 as well! argh.
( 4 sutras — Your wisdom )

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