We got our hands on the new Fall 2009 Xbox 360 Dashboard update, which features Facebook, Twitter, Last.fm, and Instant-on 1080p movie streaming from Zune. You can get the full scoop in the video, but in a nutshell, here are our thoughts:
- Facebook: Facebook on Xbox 360 is integrated well into the console. We like that you can see which of your Xbox 360 friends are on Facebook, and which Facebook friends have an Xbox 360 account. The problem is that the Xbox 360’s ridiculous friend limit really stands out here. You have a limit of 100 friends, and if you have a bunch of friends on Facebook that you want to connect with, you will quickly find that you have to pick and choose. You see what I mean in the video. Other than that, being able to view profile data and photo galleries of friends is a nice touch. Updating or commenting sucks if you don’t have a Chatpad.
- Twitter: Twitter, on the other hand, is way too simple for our liking. It shows you the last 50 tweets from people you following, trending topics, and basic profile info. You can also send tweets out from the Xbox 360, but it’s frustrating to do, unless you have a Chatpad handy.
- Last.fm: This works as expected. You sign in, and you get access to all your channels, and you can create new channels on the fly. What sucks? You can’t see your Last.fm friends, which is something I miss. Even worse? The music only plays when you are actually in the Last.fm area. If you leave, the music stops. This means you can’t carry it over to the dashboard, or in-game. So really, what’s the point?
- Zune Instant on 1080p: This was awesome. Definitely blew me away. We streamed a portion of the movie 300. After a bandwidth test, the Xbox 360 confirmed we were good to go for instant 1080p streaming, and it delivered. Fantastic. The best streaming video quality we’ve seen from any service.
There are a few other new details as well, and we give you a detailed look at it all in this video. Sit back and enjoy!
We just got word from our friends at Xbox LIVE that we’ll be getting the new Fall 2009 Dashboard Update on Monday, which means we’ll be bringing you a preview and walkthrough of all the upcoming Xbox 360 dashboard features, including Twitter, Facebook, Zune instant-on 1080p movies, Last.fm, and more. For a look at everything we’ll be bringing you on Monday, hit the jump. Now go enjoy your weekend!
Remember that Microsoft Courier video we showed you last week? Well our friends at Gizmodo were able to uncover a bit more about the mysterious and astonishing Microsoft tablet device. In the leaked video above, you get a look at the way that the fine folks in Redmond think you’ll integrate the Courier tablet device into your everyday life. We must say, it’s insanely slick, and we hope that it works exactly as shown. Of course, this is just a demo, and it doesn’t even feature a real hand or stylus.
That said, we are big fans of the “infinite journal” approach, and we can certainly see a lot of professional uses for such a device with a natural input system. What we are still curious about, though, is if this thing is also meant to be a multimedia device. You know, movies, games, music? The things that we are expecting the Apple tablet to excel at? Or is this a case of Microsoft recognizing that Apple has a stronghold in that area, and as such, they’ll focus on a different, underserved demographic? Time will tell.
Read More | Gizmodo
Clearly, revealing the Courier tablet prototype was not enough for Microsoft, as they have topped themselves once again. This time, the company produced their skinniest keyboard to date, and this Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000 is totally wireless.
There is no Bluetooth dongle included, so make sure your computer has Bluetooth built-in before making the purchase. The keyboard is powered by 3 AAA batteries, while the numeric keypad takes just one AAA. Both will be available in October, $90 for the combo, and $45 for just the number pad, if that’s all you want.
Read More | Microsoft
Our friends at Gizmodo recently got a fantastic scoop, revealing a project that Microsoft has been working on, known as the Courier tablet. This device has been a secret for the Microsoft for a long time now. According to Giz, this is more than just a concept device, but rather, Courier is in the “late prototype” stage.
Courier has two 7-inch screens that are touch sensitive, and are designed to be interacted by touch or with the very pen-like stylus. On its hinge is a home button like the iPhone, and this hinge serves as a virtual “pocket” to hold items that are moved from one screen to the other.
No word on price or availability just yet, but you have to admit that it looks quite sexy. Of course, this may not even come to fruition, but it’s a bold challenge to Apple’s dominance in the sexy multitouch devices department.
Read More | Gizmodo
We’ve had the new Zune HD in our hands for a few weeks, and now that we’ve had the opportunity to thoroughly get to know it at an intimate level, we figured it was time to share - but first things first. We’ve gotta say it. Microsoft has been consistently wowing us over the last few months. Say what you will about Windows 7, Bing, et al, but at the end of the day, they are solid offerings that stack of well against their competitors. Then of course, there’s the Xbox 360, which just received a dashboard overhaul, making it even more useful and feature-rich, and there is even more to come this fall. For us to even be thinking about Microsoft in this way is a huge departure from even just one year ago.
So, all that said, where does the Zune HD fit into all this? Well, as we’ve posted previously, the thing has an OLED 16x9 display, and packs in the NVIDIA Tegra processor. Those two pieces of news has us super-excited to see if this thing would live up to the hype. Does it? Go grab a drink and get comfortable, because we are going to delve right in.
It is now September 15th, and that means that you are now able to go and grab the Zune 4.0 update. Go ahead and do it, if you love music. The Zune.net site is still undergoing maintenance, but if you have the old version of the Zune player, just launch it and have it check for updates, and you’re golden.
One of the main gripes we’ve had with Microsoft as it pertains to the Zune platform is that they have stubbornly decided to keep it to a PC-only experience, leaving those of us who live in OS X out in the cold. Well, starting today, that changes. Kind of.
You see, the Zune Marketplace is now a part of Zune.net. Aside from having the largest audio and video podcast streaming directory, Zune now allows you to log in and listen to music from the Marketplace in any browser that supports Silverlight 3. Technically, Microsoft says that this experience is officially supported in Internet Explorer and Firefox, but we will have to give it a shot in Safari. Anyhow, the caveat here is that you can log in as a Zune Pass subscriber and stream music. This doesn’t solve the problem that those on a Mac have where they can’t sync their Zune hardware or download music. Still, though, it’s a step in the right direction, and a nice bonus for Zune Pass subscribers to be able to access and stream music, including Smart DJ playlists, on the fly. This basically turns any computer running IE or Firefox into a terminal for you to log in and crank those Zune tunes, and we like it.
For those wondering, any activities you do with Zune.net stream will also be reflected in your Zune account and Zune Card. How cool is that?
The wait for the big Zune refresh that a lot of us have been clamoring for is finally over. Today, the Zune HD launches, available from the Microsoft online store, Amazon, Best Buy, and others. Alongside that launch comes a much-improved Zune software and services package. That’s right, Zune 4.0 is here, and there’s lots to cover. Let’s dive in and take a look at all the major new features in Zune 4.0, as well as some of the smaller pieces of fit and finish that make this release shine, including the Zune Marketplace, Zune PC software, Zune on Xbox Live, and Zune.net.
From everything we’ve seen as it pertains to the Zune 4.0 software, this update is all about making music more enjoyable to listen to, easier to discover, and easier to manage. In addition, you get movies in the Zune Marketplace now (both rental and purchase,) Xbox Live integration, and a bunch of other features that make Zune 4.0 one of the best pieces of media management software that we’ve used to date.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Zune 4.0 is the Quickplay screen. Similar to the Quickplay area on the new Zune HD, the Zune desktop software gets similar treatment. Here you’ll be able to pin specific content to the area, get a look at new content you’ve recently added to your library, pull up recently played content, and also get direct access to your Smart DJ mixes. Smart DJ, you say? Yes, read on.
The Zune HD launches today, and we know a bunch of you are considering picking one up, but want to know how it stacks up agains other items like the iPod touch, and even the older hard drive based Zune 120 (since they’re all on clearance now.) We’ve taken the liberty of putting together a size comparison gallery that puts the Zune HD up against those very items. Yup, check out our Zune HD size comparison gallery for all the goods.
Read More | Zune HD size comparison gallery