Hit with problems right out of the gate, the new 360 dashboard has received a face lift that many gamers can't experience fully yet. Upon download there have been reports all over the web about not being able to connect to Xbox Live, errors while downloading apps, video issues and bricked consoles. While the update may have missed the annual release date not all is bad with the update, Xbox Support says they are aware of these issues and they're working to fix the bugs...so that's good news, right?
Now I don't know if I'm lucky but when it comes to issues with games I never really experience any. The Skyrim patch caused me no problems and while playing with the new dashboard update last night I only came across the occasionally error when downloading an app. But overall, with issues put aside, I'm really pleased with the new dashboard update.
The new dashboard looks fantastic, it has a modern look to it and its tabs have been simplified and well organized. Getting ride of the old design of navigating the dashboard vertically and changing it to where you navigate each tab by panning left and right was a brilliant idea. It lays everything out in front of you so you don't have to wonder how many times I have to go up or down to find the place to launch your game, you simply scroll over to the Game tab and walla everything to do games you've played are there. The use of the bumpers on the control lets gamers navigate through the dashboard at mach speeds and is also a really nice addition to the dashboard.
Now to the niddy gritty.
Cloud Storage is biggest thing about this update. Allowing gamers to save 512 Megabytes on to a cloud network is something I am really excited about. It is a nice feature for those gamers that play in lots of different locations. If I want to play Modern Warfare 3 my account with all my saved information I can just save it to the cloud and log in to my account at a friends house and it's all there. I haven't experienced any problems with the cloud yet and I'm hopping it stays that way... god only knows what would happen if someone lost their Skyrim character that they spent 100 hours playing.
Another cool feature is the Bing Search Engine that allows players to search their Xbox for content. Working a lot like the iPod, gamers can scroll all the way to the left tab to and search keywords and find content that matches the search. Typing in cheerleaders, don't ask me why, brought up content centered around that topic through the form of apps, downloadable content and other content that Xbox offers through its many multimedia services. Search for Downloadable Content, avatar items, themes for your dashboard, if Xbox provides it then it's there. Basically it gets ride of you even having to go through all the tabs to find what your looking for, just pan all the way to the left and search to your heart's content.
The Social tab on the dashboard has two cool new features are worth mentioning. An activity log has been added so you can see what your friends have been up to. Kind of similar to the news feed on Facebook. It also keeps track of your recent activities you've done on Xbox Live, like what you've been playing or watching. The other feature is called a beacons. What beacons all gamers to do is their friends that want to preform a certain activity, like play Modern Warfare 3, and ask if anyone wants to play it with them. The beacon is sent out and your friends can see it, a beacon can also be sent through social media as well as Xbox Live. It is a pretty cool feature and I can see myself using it in the future since I'm a pretty lonely gamer.
However there is one thing that this update ousts and that is premium themes. Premium themes were the cool thing in last year's update, but with the simple design that this update brings premium themes look like regular backgrounds now. When you go to your friends on the dashboard it will show the premium features, like mine has Master Shake next to my friends, but besides that premium themes look like normal themes now. So for those extra dollars you spent on premium themes last year are pretty useless this year.
While the Dashboard update has been met with problem it has a lot going for it. The new features definitely make up for the problems that it has face and I can't wait to experience them when all the bugs are fixed. The general theme of this update is simplistity and that is something I thoroughly.