Xbox 360 at home this weekend

So we got a 360 at work (not a big surprise, given that I work for Ziff Davis, home of a million game and tech magazines) and I called “dibs!” for taking it home this weekend.

Now, what I took home is a final retail unit, the real one not the Core system, so I can’t play gold masters and betas and stuff on it. Just retail printed discs. Which we didn’t get any of from Microsoft. But since EB is already selling Kameo, and I already bought it, I’ve been able to play that. :)

I’m under an embargo for Kameo reviews and such, so I can’t comment much on it now. I’ll just say that so far (10 hours in, I would guess another 4-5 to go) it’s excellent.

But I thought I’d go over a few of the other things about the consoles, now that I’ve had lots of hands-on, in-the-home time with a final unit.

#1 - this is a big issue, but I haven’t been able to connect to Xbox Live with it yet. The connection test stuff is more robust than on the original 'box, and it passes all the tests except the “connect to Xbox Live” part - IP addres, MTU, ICMP, you name it. My original Xbox connects fine, I hopped into Halo 2 just to be sure. Now, it’s entirely possible that they haven’t “opened the gates” for the final 360 units yet, just the debugs, or something. I only bring it up because that means I haven’t been able to test the Live stuff. It’s a shame, I wanted to do some Live Arcade.

#2 - The video clips they have already on the hard drive are, meh. They’re HD, that’s about all you can say. They take up a good chunk of HDD space, too, so when I get my own unit they’ll be the first thing I delete.

#3 - The music player is very cool, the visualizer is totally nifty, and it works great. I downloaded Windows Media Connect on my PC and I can VERY quickly navigate all 18 gigs of my tunes, my playlists, etc. Plugged in my Zen Micro and it worked fine. The music that comes bundled with the hard drive is sort of a mixed bag, but mostly sucks. I’ll probably delete it when I get my own unit, though it certainly takes up a lot less space than the videos.

#4 - Been using the wireless controllers with the Play & Charge kit (detachable recharge cable and Lith-Ion battery pack). I would say the battery pack that comes with it lasts about 8 hours or so, it’s hard to say exactly. It charges up pretty quick, maybe 2 hours, it seems. Everyone with a Wavebird for their gamecube knows that wireless controllers are where it’s at. This is a step up in that it’s a little lighter and more comfortable, plus you don’t give up rumble just because you’re wireless, which is good (I love rumble, when it’s done well).

#5 - haven’t tried using it as a Media Center Extender, though I use MCE everyday as my regular TV watching device. You got to go to www.xbox.com/pcsetup to download the little app that runs on your MCE box and allows the 360 access, but it’s not there yet.

#6 - the box doesn’t look much bigger than my PS2 sitting under my TV, though I know it really is. Good optical illusion with the convex design. It’s pretty quiet when you’re just in the dashboard or listening to music or watching a DVD. After a five-hour Kameo session, the fans were spinning up pretty loudly. With the game running you don’t really notice, but if I muted my speakers it became really obvious.

#7 - Load times. I know this was a concern with people; with me as well. Kameo’s divided into fairly large stages, with loading screens in-between (the areas are quite large, the load screens are infrequent to say the least). I think the longest load time I had was 10 seconds, the shortest 2 or 3. Most are about 5 or 6 seconds. For awhile there I was watching the second hand every time a loading screen came up just to see how long they take, but I’ve pretty much given up because they’re all really short. Can’t say anything about any other game yet, since I don’t have any.

Anyone got any questions I can answer, that don’t fall into the whole “violate your review embargo” thing?

Where do you live, and do you own a gun?

What exactly is Kameo?

I’m not sure I understand. Have you not heard of the game, or do you mean “is Kameo an elf or what?”

Does the 360 support anti aliasing or is it jaggy city like its predecessor?

I’m not sure I understand. Have you not heard of the game, or do you mean “is Kameo an elf or what?”[/quote]

Either or? Never heard of it that’s all.

Yes, it supports AA, though I’d be hard pressed to tell you for a fact exactly what level of AA is used in Kameo, if any. I’m running it on a 720p native HDTV and I don’t see any jaggies.

The Xbox supported AA as well, though only some titles used it. Forza Motorsport is notable for using AA, and it really helps, though when the pixels are that big (640x480 on a whatever-inch TV), there’s only so much that AA is gonna help.

That brings up an interesting question: the dev kits have a screen capture utility that dumps out the frame buffer to a screen shot. Well, the 360’s EDRAM is where the AA resolve is handled. Where are the screenshots being dumped from? Is it before the AA resolve or after? Are we gonna see a lot of aliased screenshots on games that have AA when you just play them? I have no idea.

Kameo, though, is totally smooth and sharp. If it doesn’t use AA, then I have doubt if 720p games NEED any AA, unless you’re sitting three feet away from your 56" TV.

Anti-aliasing is a stipulation isn’t it? 4xAA is essentially free with the Xenos.

How does 1080i Look? I dont have a set that has 720p just 1080i and I hope that it looks decent enough so I dont have to buy a new tv :)

That brings up an interesting question: the dev kits have a screen capture utility that dumps out the frame buffer to a screen shot. Well, the 360’s EDRAM is where the AA resolve is handled. Where are the screenshots being dumped from? Is it before the AA resolve or after? Are we gonna see a lot of aliased screenshots on games that have AA when you just play them? I have no idea.

The EDRAM isn’t large enough to hold the entire 720p framebuffer so it uses tiling to perform the work. The full framebuffer is stored in system memory which is where the video encoding hardware reads it for output, and presumably where screenshots are grabbed from.

That’s pretty much crap. My Logitech Cordless PS2 Controller lasts for 30 hours or more with rumble.

I’ve used one of those, too, and it’s WAY bigger and heavier than the 360 pad.

I’m not sure what the exact battery life is. After about 8 hours I noticed the LEDs on the controller flashing intermittently (the diagonals blink back and forth for every few seconds to warn you) and checked the battery meter with the Guide button, and it said two bars in the battery meter. I just plugged it back in, but I don’t know how long it would go before it died.

I also don’t know how long it lasts with a pair of AAs. In typical situations like this, the AAs last a lot longer, but of course you gotta keep buying batteries.

I don’t have a 1080i set, so I can’t tell ya. I could set the output to 1080i, and my set would accept the 1080i input, but it would scale it down to 720p. The native res of my set is 1280x720. You can set the output to either one and the TV output just spits out that signal, scaling it up as appropriate.

It’s not quite ThAT simple. 2xAA is what I would call “essentially free” and 4x is REALLY cheap compared to the 30% hit you get on a good PC card, thanks to the way the EDRAM works. But you still gotta output more samples to the EDRAM and that keeps the raster op units busy. I’ve heard that every 360 game is required to do at least 2xAA, but I’m not sure if that’s really true. Long story short: I have one store-bought game of experience with the 360 and it’s got no problem with jaggies at all. That’s about all I can definitively say.

It’s a family-friendly action-adventure game, in the mold of Zelda and the like. There are a horde of previews out there - it’s one of Microsoft’s big first-party games. You’re better off hitting google than me rambling on trying to explain it all in this tread. :)

I just use rechargeable AAs so no additional batteries required. I’ve got four rechargeables so I always have two fresh ones ready to go.

In terms of size, the most recent Logitech revision is roughly comparable to the standard dual shock and is smaller than the Xbox S-Controller. It is heavier than wired controllers but not uncomfortable at all.

Do you have an iPod? Didn’t they claim connectivity with that somewhere along the line? I’m extremely skeptical that it would be able to do anything other than play songs stored on the iPod as a hard drive, not your actual music library you can listen to, but I’m curious anyway.

Wholly, check out this article.

“When you plug your iPod in,” Xbox digital-entertainment executive producer Jeff Henshaw told CNET News.com, “the Xbox 360 automatically detects that it’s there. You can browse by artist or album or genre or by custom playlist.”

However, because of the iPod’s digital-rights-management software, the Xbox 360 cannot stream songs purchased from Apple’s iTunes Music Store, Henshaw said.

There’s a reason for that: Microsoft built its iPod connection without the support of the folks at Apple.

-Julian

Have you tried any Xbox 1 games on it? They’ve said that they’re ‘upscaling’ all the games to 720p. The screenshots bungie released of Halo running on the 360 look like it’s actually rendering at a higher res, not just upscaling. Do other Xbox 1 games show the same improvement?

<yawn>

another new console… what a surprise.

etc

Developer kits don’t actually use xbox live, they use a different network. xbox live is only for retail titles, and the developer network allows some greater control as well as debug info (and not needing actual paying accounts, heh).

I’d guess they probably just haven’t turned it on yet.

I know, what’s up with that? I heard they’re still making new cars and washing machines too. How tedious.

I’d be interested in Xbox games impressions. Doesn’t the 360 come with the Halo game’s stuff already on the HD?