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RIP Ralph Baer (1922-2014) I really, really hate writing obits. I really do. But I take it as a personal honor to be able to say good things about the men and women I respect, whether in this industry or just in my life, and Ralph Baer is the reason all of this exists in the first...

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Xbox Update
Posted on Tuesday, July 15 2008 @ 05:36:20 Eastern

In the Microsoft press conference yesterday they announced a major Xbox 360 update coming in the fall, with an all-new dashboard being showcased as one of the new features of the update. It looks like the biggest update the console has ever gotten, it has an all-new design, new community features, and possibly one of the bigger additions being of new Avitars.

These avitars, designed by Rare, are completely customizable to suit your appearance. I don't know as of now how they will make new additions for them, probably release content packs that you can use Microsoft credits to buy them with. This avitar is your representation in many different features of Xbox Live from now on. It can be used to socialize with friends and it can be used in certain forthcoming Xbox Live games.

There are many minigames that will become accessable to play via Xbox Live that will let users compete through their new avitars for real prizes and things such as that. This is a cool feature, but just how effective will it be?

The dashboard has also been completely redesigned to be more "user-friendly," by adding new slides and an easier to navigate menu. Quite honestly I don't know if I like this new dashboard, it seems to me as though Microsoft is making the 360 jump from Windows XP (the old dashboard) to Windows Vista (the new dashboard) in their attempt to make even their console's operating system more accessable. Will it work? Only time will tell.

Finally, Microsoft announced possibly the only really cool update coming to the Xbox Live marketplace in terms of access to media content: they are partnering exclusively with Netflix to allow users to watch films via their Netflix account downloaded temporarily straight to their Xbox. Will Xbox Live Gold subscribers automatically get access to Netflix films? I don't know. I hope so, but otherwise you will need a Netflix account to access this feature.

Quite honestly I don't like the new dashboard feature at all. I think it is going to become too flashy and quite honestly just an update that will end up annoying the core group of gamers who want to play games and not simply go around their Xbox console to see what new flashy things are on it. I think the addition of the avitars is cool, but it reminds me of the PlayStation 3 Home network that they already have up and running. Granted, the Xbox 360 was the only system without actual avitars but I liked it that way. It kept the focus on playing games instead of wandering cyberspace with your cartoonish representation whose apearance reminds me of a somewhat flashier Mii. I do, however, think that the partnership with Netflix was a good idea. I don't, but my dad does subscribe to them, so if I could somehow figure out how to link his Netflix account to my Xbox Live I could gain access to watching pretty much whatever movie I wanted through my Xbox.
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