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XBox (Games)

Xbox 360 Spring 2007 Dashboard Update Hands-On 88

Posted by Zonk
from the no-red-rings-please dept.
Engadget writes "Well, that Xbox 360 Spring 2007 Dashboard update did land at about 2:00AM PST as expected, and brought with it a few fun features we were hot to test out -- but none more than the Xbox's expanded video playback capabilities. We were able to play back 720p and even 1080p MPEG-4 and H.264 content on our Xbox 360. Technically speaking the Xbox 360 now officially beats out the Apple TV in the digital video arena, both in resolution and bitrate. (At best the ATV only does up to 720p at 5Mbps, while the Xbox does 1080p up to 10Mbps; neither supports higher than stereo audio.) In other words, if you're an Xbox owner thinking about an Apple TV for playing back video in your living room, you might want to think again."
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Xbox 360 Spring 2007 Dashboard Update Hands-On

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  • What about DivX? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MBraynard (653724) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:04PM (#19053633) Journal
    Does it have all of the codecs needed to play the DivX (.avi) stuff I have on my puter?

    I really like being able to stream stuff off of my PC to my TV, but it only likes WMA pre-update.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by wilsonthecat (1043880)
      transcode 360 does this, although the project hasn't been updated for sometime.

      http://runtime360.com/projects/transcode-360/ [runtime360.com]

      The problem is rewind/forwarding doesn't work too well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by blackmonday (607916)
      No Divx, either on disc or streamed. I hated the streaming features anyway, the rewind/forward is a pain. Get a cheap DVD player that supports DIVX, I have an Oppo but there are cheaper options, I think Philips makes one. Burn your files on a DVD/CD or copy to memory stick and watch, with much better responsiveness.
      • by Is0m0rph (819726)
        I have an RCA upconverting DVD recorder and it fully supports DIVX files off cd/dvd/usb memory stick. Also plays WMV, MPG, etc. I'd rather just stick a DVD full of DIVX files in it then mess with the Xbox 360. I did use XBMC on my old xbox to stream video quite a bit before I replaced it with the 360.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cptgrudge (177113)

        You know, the streaming performance would be a lot better if they just allowed native decoding through codecs on the 360, instead of us needing these damn hacks to transcode a simple file. For fuck's sake, we're being shoehorned into Microsoft's own little locked in world. Transcoding? What really grinds my gears is that it's so unecessary; there are just these artificial blocks set in our way by Microsoft.

        XBMC on the original XBox has ruined any of the flaccid, crippled media functionality that Micros

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MBraynard (653724)

          Microsoft's attempts at wringing every last bit of money out of the consumer, while sorely lacking any sort of courage to support more media types that might offend the "content producers", has completely turned me off to the 360.

          I know you want to be angry about something, and MS looks like a good target for your anger, but let me assure you that this is NOT MS's choice and if they could legally give you the codec they would. Perhaps be angry at the content producers. Note that MS is in the business of ma

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by cptgrudge (177113)

            Note that MS is in the business of making money - and no one is making money doing what you mention - XBMC is a FREE program.

            I understand that MS is in the business of making money, and I applaud it. They are certainly doing right by their shareholders. I'm sure they did a cost benefit analysis and came up with the setup that they offer as the one that can leverage the most money. But because of the way they have done it, there are four instances (that I personally know of) where potential consumers

          • by Sundawn (762701)
            well i dont see the point in playing last-gen-video on next-gen-systems.
            divx is supported by any sub 50$ dvd player. most people have a dvd player anyway and using the 360 is generally a "noisy" idea.

            if you want a multimedia-jack-of-all-trades - build it - or wait till 360 or ps3 get hacked decently and run homebrew... or maybe someone (ms or sony) decides to offically release a usb-dongle-thingy or so to enable multimedia-overkill.
          • by CaseM (746707)
            Maybe I'm missing something, but how would not crippling the 360 media center be a blow to the content producers? Are you saying they can't legally give us a the free xVid codec? If you're claiming that by doing so they (MS) are advocating piracy, then I direct your attention to the built-in MP3 codec on the 360 - supporting arguably the single most pirated type of file in the world.

            But since we're talking about DivX, I'm quite sure that Microsoft could open up the 360 slightly to allow for different co
        • by DaveCBio (659840)
          Ever heard of licensing and support? Those are 2 things MS would have to deal with if they put native DivX and such on the 360. If they allowed people to upload their own CODECs it would be a support nightmare.
          • by cptgrudge (177113)

            I never said that they need to let people upload their own codecs. How is licensing and supporting DivX any different than doing the same for MPEG-4 and H.264?

            • by DaveCBio (659840)
              Open standard CODEC != proprietary variations. If you want to use DivX officially you have to pay a licensing fee.
              • by cptgrudge (177113)

                So? Do the manufacturers of the 70 million [divx.com] consumer devices that support DivX somehow know something MS doesn't?

                Licensing costs aren't all that much in the long run. What if it would help them sell half a million more 360 units? And even two or three games were sold for each of those? Costs would be recouped in a hurry. If I could connect to a simple Windows/Samba share and play DivX/XviD content, I'd buy one today. As it is, I'm not compelled by it over other options, so I'll wait for the best syst

                • by DaveCBio (659840)
                  I doubt very much they "ignored" anything. It's hilarious how pundits on Slashdot always assume that they are so much smarter than anyone that works at Microsoft simply because they don't agree with something Microsoft does. I would assume they didn't want to pay the fee and they wanted to push their own media format just like Sony did with Blu-Ray on the PS3.
                  • by cptgrudge (177113)

                    I would assume they didn't want to pay the fee and they wanted to push their own media format just like Sony did with Blu-Ray on the PS3.

                    That's pretty much what I just said!

                    "they obviously want to leverage other products at the same time, so they have intentionally ignored certain possibilities."

                    Windows Media is one of their products.

    • Try TVersity (Score:5, Informative)

      by Nerdfest (867930) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:44PM (#19054467)
      Check out the TVersity audio/video server. It's pretty cool in that it's free (as in beer) and does transcode on the fly for the xbox 360. It will even do HD transcoding if your PC has the processing power. It's also a lot more stable than Windows Media Connect.
    • I thought it only did 1080I? Please, someone correct me if I'm wrong.
      • by MBraynard (653724)
        The system itself got an update a while back that allowed 1080p.
        • Ah, thanks. :) Actually checking this out, I see that this is the case but for analogue only i.e. no HDMI - unless you get the Elite version, that is. Seeing as I don't have a games console, though, I will check this update with interest.
  • by Durrok (912509) <calltechsucks&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:10PM (#19053779) Homepage Journal
    This update also does not appear to do any harm if you have a modified 360. Felt like I was playing Russian Roulette while I was updating though...
    • The question is why you need a modified 360 anymore if it pretty much plays all the video formats one would need in a media player box?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Durrok (912509)
        To play pirated games or game backups.
        • ...never had a situation where I needed to use a backup. Must be only pirated games then.

          In that case, Microsoft really should ban you.
          • ...never had a situation where I needed to use a backup...

            I have. For whatever reason my pristine copy of Max Payne (IE: I own it and there are NO scratches) would not play on my original X-Box. I don't think the DVD drive is failing, as it wouldn't play in my 360 either. So I backed up all my games to (my upgraded) HDD and now play them that way (Everything loads faster now too). Hopefully my Live enabled games don't get Wonky on me either since the Original X-Box needs to stay offline now.

            Since doin

            • by DaveCBio (659840)
              Every time this comes up there is a post like yours. Let's face it, even if you are telling the truth you would be the exception, not the rule.
            • I have. For whatever reason my pristine copy of Max Payne (IE: I own it and there are NO scratches) would not play on my original X-Box. I don't think the DVD drive is failing, as it wouldn't play in my 360 either. So I backed up all my games to (my upgraded) HDD and now play them that way (Everything loads faster now too). Hopefully my Live enabled games don't get Wonky on me either since the Original X-Box needs to stay offline now.

              Sorry man, but I don't believe for a minute that this is the real reason y

              • by trdrstv (986999)

                Sorry man, but I don't believe for a minute that this is the real reason you modded.

                and you would be right. I modded it for XBMC. I upgraded the HDD because my game wouldn't play, and I had a HDD lying around.

                You can find Max Payne for $5 in every bargain bin across the country. You honestly backed up a $5 game?

                Yes I did. I also backed up Max Payne 2 which you can find for $2 new. HDD's are cheap and since I had one lying around the affective added cost to me was Zero, so why not? Even if it didn't

          • by Durrok (912509)
            I have had many reasons to do backups of games I own but the main reason is to play pirated games and they would be in their right to ban me. However they have not and I have saved enough money pirating games to get 2 xbox 360s so if it ever does come about I'm still money ahead.

            You can rest easy knowing your 360 will continue to work until Microsoft bricks it trying to catch me :)
  • Right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:12PM (#19053819)
    In other words, if you're an Xbox owner thinking about an Apple TV for playing back video in your living room, you might want to think again.

    Raise your hands everybody who has Xbox and was "thinking about an Apple TV for playing back video". Anyone? Anyone...?

    In the same line of constructing long sentences that convey no additional information at ALL:

    If you're a calculator owner who was thinking of calculating the square root of a 10 digit number with a pen and paper, you may want to think again.

    If you're a car owner who has to travel 40 miles every day to work and thought walking foot, you may want to think again.

    If you're a wrist watch owner and you want to stop random people asking them what's the time on the street anyway, you may want to think again. ...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Rude Turnip (49495)
      /raises hand. I went as far as ordering an Apple TV unit and then I sent it back. OK, so maybe I was the only one.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by furball (2853)

      Raise your hands everybody who has Xbox and was "thinking about an Apple TV for playing back video". Anyone? Anyone...?


      If Xbox could play my iTunes content, sure. Unfortunately, it doesn't. So I own an ATV along my Xbox. And countless other consoles.
      • Actually, you can play iTunes content on ones xbox with Connect360 on a mac (except for protected tracks bought from the Apple Store, and no idea about what you'd do on a windows box). And I too was thinking of getting an AppleTV until I heard that this update would support .mp4 files so I held off.
    • by LordNimon (85072)
      Raise your hands everybody who has Xbox and was "thinking about an Apple TV for playing back video". Anyone? Anyone...?

      I was.

      The only desktop computers in my house are older Macs, so they're unsuitable for playing games. Even so, my 19" monitor can't compare to my 80" projection TV, so I got an Xbox 360. Unfortunately, it supports only a couple video formats. When I heard about Apple TV, I thought it might be a good addition; that is, until I found out about the iTunes limitation. So now, I just u
    • There are still a bunch of reasons why 360 owners might want an ATV, for example:

      • Support for protected music and videos from the iTunes Store
      • ATVs are a lot quieter than 360s
      • ATVs can easily be hacked to natively support additional file formats like divx
      • ...and some people just prefer the ATV interface

      There certainly are less reasons than before, but there still are reasons.

    • by tabby (592506)
      I own a 360 & was using media center heavily & maintaining a seperate library for my video ipod. I bought an AppleTV when they came out & stopped using media center. Problem solved.

      So this update comes out & I think, hmmm, maybe I don't need this AppleTV thing anymore & can do the 'mac nano' with it. Hey maybe I could even go so far as replacing my iPod with a Zune(I do like the blue/black one). However the Zune software (required as the sharing component on the PC) has very poor lib
  • by mikazo (1028930) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:13PM (#19053831)
    My friends are annoyed enough when I don't reply to their MSN conversations while I'm playing games on my PC. Without the keyboard attachement on the 360 controller, it will take even longer to reply and will give me even more reason to ignore their messages. If I'm on the Xbox, it's to play games. If I want to have an MSN conversation, I'll go on my PC. The Windows Live Messenger addition just doesn't seem like something I'll use.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ben0207 (845105)
      Well, its something I'll use. Complaining about a free feature you may or may not use is somewhat pointless, don't you think?
    • by p0tat03 (985078)

      You don't need the keyboard attachment... I have a USB keyboard (an Apple USB Keyboard no less...) hooked up to my 360 and it works great when I'm trying to IM someone.

    • I bought a nice keyboard for like 7 bucks on newegg and it works great on the xbox360
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      I guess next time Microsoft wants to add a free feature that you're not required to use, they should run it by Mikazo first to get the thumbs-up. After all, if Mikazo says he won't use it, there's really no point, right?
    • by LordNimon (85072)
      Then turn it off. WLM support can be disabled separately from everything else, so you can continue sending messages to others on Xbox Live and no one using WLM will even know you're online.
    • by mikazo (1028930)
      Hey, I'm not complaining. I just see it as software bloat and won't end up using it. Power to all of you that want to IM on your 360.
  • Hmmm except (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Errr... that might be true, EXCEPT there's that one small detail you're overlooking. The XBOX 360 is as loud as a lawnmower, and the Apple TV is as quiet as a mouse.
    So, I'll just stick with the Apple TV thanks. My Xbox 360 is in the next room, behind closed doors, in a small wooden cabinet with one inch thick wood, and I can STILL hear it from my TV couch.
    • Hey man, are you dissing my lawn mower? I WONT TAKE THAT KIND OF INSULT! FIRE THE OVERHEATED 360'S! *I'm actually a happy 360 Owner, thus this isn't flamebait. Anyone who doesn't belive me can kick my ass at Gears of War.*
    • by DaveCBio (659840)
      Except that it's not when it's not reading the DVD drive. Playing streamed video or XBLA games do not use the drive so it's very quiet. Also, do you play with the volume set to 1 out of 10? I play at a "normal" volume level and the only time I notice the drive noise is when I start a game and when I finish and go to the Dashboard and it spins down.
  • by MrPerfekt (414248) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:22PM (#19054057) Homepage Journal
    I'll stick with my AppleTV for streaming content that I actually have to my TV.

    I do love the actual GAMING features of the 360 update though. Finally, "powered off" downloads, yay.
    • by Comen (321331)
      If they can do "powered off" downloads, then does that mean someone could access your XBOX camera even when the 360 is supposed to be off?
      I want to be able to spy on people in thier homes!
    • by spideyct (250045)
      As others have mentioned (but I will repeat, because depressingly few people know about it), you just need the free Transcode 360 app to watch any format not supported by the Xbox natively.
      http://runtime360.com/blog/ [runtime360.com]
      TVersity is supposed to do the same thing, but I haven't used it.

      Try those out and see if you still need the AppleTV (did you keep your receipt?)
      • by MrPerfekt (414248)
        Transcoding is not a good option. Why should I peak out CPU on my workstation to send video 30 feet away to my TV? Just skip the extra cycles and loss of quality by playing many formats natively, like I can do with my AppleTV.
  • Now if only... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by reanjr (588767) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:29PM (#19054185) Homepage
    Now if only it would just read SMB shares...
  • Uh-oh (Score:4, Funny)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:25PM (#19055237) Homepage Journal
    Now you did it. You said something like "If you've got an Xbox 360, you should think twice about buying an AppleTV".

    Batten down the hatches. Last time someone said something negative about an Apple product, there were riots. I don't know about you, but I'm buying plastic sheeting and duct tape.
  • by skobar (890726)
    There was some hints that xvid was going to be supported also? I don't see anything mentioning it. Was is included in the update?
    • by tepples (727027)

      If Xvid can output MPEG-4 video (either ASP or H.264) in an MPEG-4 container, it should work except in those countries that recognize patents on algorithms.

  • by Dster76 (877693) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @03:50PM (#19056873)
    I applied the update at lunch.

    Still no way to scan (fast forward/rewind) within an audio track.

    What year is this?
    • I believe (although I'm not at home to test this) that the 360 audio player works much like a CD player - holding down the track forward button will FF and track back will rewind.
      • by Dster76 (877693)

        I believe (although I'm not at home to test this) that the 360 audio player works much like a CD player - holding down the track forward button will FF and track back will rewind.

        Wrong!

        Oh wait. Did you read this thread [slashdot.org], and are trying to taunt me?

        Ah -- you posted to that thread. So, I guess you're being a bit of a joker. Good luck with that!

  • Eh? 10 Mbps max? stereo only? The Xbox Live Marketplace video has been doing shows with peaks up to 12 Mbps and 5.1 audio (e.g. the CSI shows) since before this update. Users have been making their own files with much bigger specs for a long time.

    Now 30 Mbps peaks in WMV files are fine with the new update. It's really an incredible piece of hardware.
    • by nschubach (922175)
      [blockquote]Now 30 Mbps peaks in WMV files are fine with the new update. It's really an incredible piece of hardware.[/blockquote] Is it a really impressive piece of hardware because it's a Microsoft product that finally reads a Microsoft format properly or because you somehow feel that WMV playback is more important than fixing the disc scratching issues or the red ring hardware failures (at 3-5%+) that Microsoft is vigorously denying and trying to cover up?
    • by drewmca (611245)
      What did he say? Isn't he that blogger guy that works for Microsoft?

      Oh....
  • So they've added an extra blade to the UI, but they didn't think to at least re-use one of the background pictures from the other blades for the new one. So instead of a sexy Bullet Witch in the Marketplace background, now I have some ugly orange mess that looks like an ad for M&M's. That's disjointed and annoying and should have been a simple, obvious fix. Though I imagine having two backgrounds with Wolverine instead of one might have resulted in some kind of character license infringement or somet
    • Sadly it's deliberate, they're trying to Brand the Marketplace and slightly separate it out from the rest of the 'entertainment' zone. Since it's the place you spend the money I can see their point.
  • http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=52 1205 [avforums.com]

    The Spring Update adds a new feature allowing users to tweak the IRE setting that the Xbox 360 sends out to the television. "Both Xbox 360 Elite and current Xbox 360 units will have a spring (console) update which adds support for different video levels for VGA output ("7.5 IRE vs 0") ... using this setting you should be able to use computer monitors in addition to TVs with resolutions all the way up to 1080p with high fidelity and no issues with HDCP handshaking," explained Amir Majidimehr, VP of Microsoft's Consumer Media Technology Group. "So for current users, I highly recommend trying this update with your VGA connection to see if it does the job for you. Note that this is a console update and will work for both games and of course, HD DVD.

    • by iainl (136759)
      Thanks! I saw this option while browsing around the menus last night, but I didn't know what it was for. If it's just expanding the black level all the way down to 0 IRE, I'll make the change when I get home. Then recalibrate the TV to bring the crushed black detail back on HD-DVDs...
  • Is there any way to get the video (non-iTunes Music Store) from my Mac with OS X to my 360?

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