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Thursday February 2, 2012 5:49 pm

Ask Andru: Should I get Kinect if I use my Xbox 360 primarily for watching Netflix?

kinect netflix

We're back with another edition of Ask Andru - this time we're focusing on the wildly popular Kinect add-on, and how useful it might be for Xbox 360 owners who primarily use their consoles for watching streaming video. On to the question:

My family has an Xbox 360 but we end up using it primarily for Netflix, not games. I've read that the recent Xbox Live update added more ways to navigate menus and content using voice and gestures with Kinect. Is it worth buying a Kinect just for those controls, if we don't use it to play games? Is talking and waving at the TV better than using the controller?

It's true--Microsoft recently released an update for the Xbox 360, known as the Fall 2011 Dashboard Update, that has fully optimized the console's interface for use alongside the Kinect add-on. Many early adopters of Kinect complained about how clunky and tacked on the experience felt when trying to navigate menus while using the Xbox 360 outside of gaming, and the update pretty much solved all of those problems. Now, it's easy to "grab" something on screen, swipe through menus, and make selections using hand gestures. Even cooler, though, is that the dashboard is now pretty much fully navigable using just your voice. Simply say "Xbox" and all your options for where you can go are displayed on the screen. If you can see it, you can pretty much say it. Here's a video I made that looks at the features you'll find in the latest update:

So, with all that said, would I recommend purchasing the $150 Kinect sensor solely for the purposes of navigating your Xbox 360? It really depends since it is so subjective, but I don't think so. Don't get me wrong, though. I have used the Kinect sensor since its 2010 release, and love it as a peripheral. I find the technology to be cool and futuristic. It also makes things easy. Navigating and finding content with your voice rather than the awkward pecking away at a virtual on-screen keyboard with the controller is much more enjoyable. Plus, a lot of the games are just simple and fun. In other words, I use the Kinect for a lot more than simply navigating to a movie on Netflix, and asking the Xbox 360 to play and pause it for me. If you think you might enjoy some of the other features that the Kinect offers, then I'd say go for it. You might even find a deal on Craigslist or eBay. However, if you are truly just looking for a way to more easily navigate your Xbox 360, the Chatpad is a lot less expensive, and can save a lot of time with searches as well.

That's it! If you have any ideas of your own, feel free to add them to the comments. As always, send your tech questions to askandru@gmail.com and I'll be sure to feature them, along with my answers, in a future column!

Andru Edwards is the Editor-in-Chief of Gear Live, a digital strategy consultant, and does speaking gigs focused on startups and social media. He’s a true lover of all things digital. You can find him on Twitter at @andruedwards, watch his technology videos on YouTube, and/or subscribe to him on Facebook.

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