After having spent about a month with the MetroUI update for Xbox 360, I must say, I’m pretty impressed. As several others have already reported, the new dashboard interface looks a lot like Windows 8 Beta and Windows Phone 7.5. So beware, if you do not like the new Metro look, you are likely going to hate the look and feel of the new dashboard.
Let me preface my review by saying I am NOT an avid gamer. I would say my console gets used at most once to twice a week. Over holidays, certainly a little bit more. I only recently purchased another Xbox 360 (after selling my original release console) with Kinect. The Kinect is a really a crucial part of the new interface. I found that you can certainly do everything with a controller, but the Kinect really takes everything to the next level.
The feature that I’ve enjoyed most is the Kinect integration. This comes in two different ways, voice and movement. You can literally swoosh through the menus by using the hand motions. Using only your hands to “grab” whatever it is you want to select really makes going through system settings a little more interesting and entertaining. The Kinect has a built-in microphone and the new dashboard takes full advantage of it. Much like Kinect games, the new dashboard allows you to say commands and it will follow them. You can ask it to do a bing search, play a game, go to media, etc. The software is quite incredible, really. I would say Microsoft still has a little bit of tweaking to do as it has on more than one occasion not recognized what I was saying and I’ve had to start the process all over again. Perhaps Microsoft could learn a little from Siri.
If you are an Xbox Live Gold member, you probably know you can take advantage of many different streaming options. This includes sports, movies, etc. Most all of the streaming apps have now been updated to also have the look and feel of the new dashboard. When the update was first released, some where still not updated. Most all of them also take advantage of the voice commands previously mentioned, making searching for movies a breeze!
Like most everyone else these days, Microsoft has gone “to the cloud” with their data. If you want to access your saved game data on another console, all you have to do is sign in with your gamer tag and it will pull your stuff from the cloud. I have already done this a few times with friends consoles and it is great! The only downside is, they do not give you much space. For people like myself, who only own a few games it’s no big deal, but I’m guessing it is not enough for most people.
Most of the content remains the same, but the interface had a pretty huge overhaul. I personally love what Microsoft is doing with the tiles and this new Metro interface. I think it is clever of them to put across all their offerings. It really drives home the unification between all of their products. They have even done a fairly good job with their iOS app that shows your Xbox Live content. While the software doesn’t do much other than allow you to see achievements, messages, and your avatar, it does give the same Windows Phone, Windows 8, Xbox feel. Overall, I would say this is my favorite Xbox Dashboard update to date, it is really a game changer!