Tuesday, November 29, 2005

XBox 360 And the Digital Hub

The Xbox 360 is out to much hype. Gamers the world over are probably drooling at the prospect of HD-resolution games, and the additional computational power providing for superior game processing, resulting in a better experience. (I’ve seen better performance in iterations of Halo – Halo 2 makes use of the Xbox’s architecture much better than the built-for-PC-ported-later first version).

Personally, though, the aspect of the Xbox 360 that has interested me most in the Media Center Extender (MCX) part of it. The Windows Media Center Edition (MCE) with the extender is a solution to a problem that’s been begging to be solved for a generation of PC-users now – how do you get content from your computer to your TV? The PC is a much richer source of content. With newer online on-demand services coming, and cable IMO not really up to scratch in terms of niche content (no cricket on US cable yet, for instance), the TV as a display device for your computer makes a lot of sense. The problem of course is moving the computer from the study/home office to the living room/den where the TV resides.

Custom solutions are nice, but with the Media Center providing great platform support for this, Microsoft can look to being an important part of the digital hub.

The key thing here is really advertising. There has to be better advertising of these features so that people know of the awesome capabilities a MCE with a MCX can provide. How neat is playing all your songs on your computer, streaming it through your speaker system and controlling all this via a remote, using the TV as the display? This while your computer is in the study, and you are in the den/hall. Add movies on demand, Apple’s video downloads, and (for us cricket fanatics) streaming video, and there is a new, compelling reason to spend on some really useful hardware - not just wow factor 'stuff'.

I feel this is an important part of the future of the company. If MSFT can play its cards right, that is.


Mukund Gunti said...

I attended the Xbox 360 demo at CMU. They have added lots of fancy media stuff, but I didnt see any advancements in "gamming". (at least the presentation didnt focus on any).

They showed that they could play music from an ipod and the whole audience went "ahhh". I am still wondering why?

PS: I am not a gammer. Saw a post on Microsoft and thus had to comment. Old habit. I am sorry.

Ajay said...

I don't know how long back the presentation was, but the graphics now look awesome (so i've heard - haven't had a chance to take a look myself).

I don't play much myself, but I play enough to know how much of a difference superior performance can make in the 'feel' of a game (less lag, quicker scene loading). Add better graphics, and it's pretty promising.

Plus, I'm not even talking about iPod compatibility. The MCE PC plus the extender box (which is inbuilt in the 360) make for a sweet combination. I was fairly impressed by the capabilities and ease-of-use when I saw it in use in a testing lab here.

You'd better get upto scratch on MSFT stuff if you want to comment. You really have no clue about what you are talking about, do you :-)

Mukund Gunti said...

Actually, I have a very good idea abt MSFT stuff. :)

Ajay said...

Well, I saw your disclaimer in the first comment. I quote: "Saw a post on Microsoft and thus had to comment. Old habit."

It is not uncommon for people to sound off about Microsoft while knowing jack about their products. (Required reading: innumerable slashdot forums).

Mukund Gunti said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CAR said...

Hey Ajay...Perhaps you can answer my simple question in non technical terms?

Is the 360 worth the price If i think the current Xbox is totally worth $150?

Are you a Microsoft Lover?

Ajay said...

If you think the current version is totally worth $150, then the $400 version may be for you.(The $400 one will play all your current games as well) I think it's great for people who are really into gaming.

As for the last question..let me put it this way. I am not a Microsoft-hater. I dislike some things about them, and some of their business decisions. But I think the company gets way more crap than it deserves. I try to be rational about all things tech. For instance, I think Firefox totally rocks though I work on technology used in Internet Explorer. But I think the Windows OS is much better than people think it is. And I dislike the usability factor of Linux, though there are things about Unix/ Linux I worship as a programmer.

In the interest of full disclosure,I work on contract for Microsoft. (So, yes, my bias may play into this).