October 1st, 2009 — wii
Nintendo released the 4.2 System Menu update a couple of days ago, which seemed focused on removing the Homebrew Channel, Twilight Hack, etc. The problem is that even those Wii owners who don’t have homebrew, updating to 4.2 probably isn’t a good idea because gamers are reporting that the update is bricking their system. Worse, some Wii owners are reporting that Nintendo support staff said that the owners would have to pay for repairing the bricked Wiis.
See team twiizer about their response to the 4.2 update. Even if you successfully updated it, you can re-install the Homebrew Channel. If you have the Homebrew Channel, update it before updating to 4.2.
Update: Nintendo says that they will fix bricked Wiis for free. However, some owners have said that they do not have modified channels or HBC but had their Wiis bricked by 4.2.
November 17th, 2008 — 360
I received a notice last week that I was accepted to test the new Xbox interface [nxe]. While I don’t hate it, the new functionality is the only good change. The new avatars and the new navigation format are at best not any worse than what 360 owners had before. The interface is now organized as ‘channels’ which are nothing like the Wii channels.
It takes a few passes to understand the differences among the different channels. The Welcome channel can and should be hidden after you initially log on. It has no real value, except to guide you at a high level through the new features. But here is my list of the pros and cons of the new interface and features.
Bottom line: The new features are great, but the overall design is not very good.
- The Netflix channel works great and is probably the best feature in the new design. The video looks great.
- Though i’ve not used it, the party feature is a great way to talk to 2+ friends at one time.
- While the ability to copy a disk didn’t speed up loading my games that I could tell, it does prevent that horrid cd drive noise. [However, if you have 20 gigabyte drive, as I do, you'll only be able to copy 2, maybe 3 games, to your drive.
- The avatar creator is actually okay, although we have seen so many that the creation interface is almost a given design. But Microsoft offers some nice features, like different clothes and accessories.
- Those old themes you paid for are still usable as wallaper for the new interface. But they don't interfere with reading anything.
- The advertising spotlights are now all in one channel. In the old interface, some ad spaces were not clickable so you couldn't easily find out more information about the game or event. That's no longer the case.
- After hiding the Welcome channel, the default channel isn't the most useful channel [My Xbox] . . . it’s the Spotlight channel.
- You cannot edit your Instant Movie queue for Netflix, which means you have to manage it from a PC.
- Some features are not easy to find. Go ahead . . . find where you would change the dashboard theme. I spent 10 minutes searching for it and had to repair myself to google. No, it’s not in the System Settings menu.
- You can only see 3 friends at a time in the friends list. The new interface is just not good for some things, like viewing a long list. If you’re like me and have just a handful of friends, it’s not too bad. You have scroll a couple of times to see everyone. But if you have 12 or more, the Friends channel is quite useless. The best way to view your friends’ status is to use the big Xbox button and view your friends in an old fashioned list. [To be fair, friends who are online are moved to the front of the channel.] But overall, the friend channel is dominated by big, clunky graphics that don’t provide any extra information and are just there to look pretty, which you’ll get tired of in about 1 minute.
- For those expecting Microsoft to beat the PS3 ‘home,’ they didn’t do it. The Xbox avatars are all in all just barely there. See the following list.
- The avatar creation, all in all, doesn’t compare with the Mii creator. You can’t finetune the facial features, so you’re not going to see Spider-Man, Darth Vader, Obama, et al. here.
What Microsoft missed
- Customization. While the Wii Menu isn’t completely customizable, it does allow gamers to rearrange channels to put what they use the most up front. Microsoft focused on copying the Miis but completely missed this small but gretaly useful feature. Maybe I’m not interested in Events and Spotlight ads so let me hide them.
- After going to some work to create an avatar, where does it get used? The friends channel is it, and even there, it’s not much. Microsoft couldn’t have given even a small game to use them in? Couldn’t have one-upped Nintendo’s Mii Channel? [While creating your avator, using the left joystick, you can make your avatar look disoriented or angry. It's interesting that they design this kind of interactivity in the avatar but don't really take advantage of it.]
What is good in the new 360 interface is great. But the majority of it is either a step to the side or, in a few cases, a step backwards [either from what 360 owners had before or from what other console owners have]. I applaud Microsoft for the willingness to start over on some of their products, to copy what’s good in their competition and to even introduce new functionality.