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The new Xbox Live Marketplace blade

More information in the game on the main blade

Arcade classic Double Dragon hits XBLA

Enabling background downloading in low-power mode

Achievement pop-ups now tell you more

Chatting using Messenger on Xbox Live
New Xbox 360 Dashboard adds a plethora of new features

The biannual Xbox 360 dashboard update is finally upon us, and new in this Spring edition are a plethora of new features. The one that Microsoft seems to be most proud to advertise is the integration of Windows Live Messenger into the Xbox 360 Dashboard, allowing gamers to text chat while gaming, listening to music, or watching videos.

Xbox 360 users can chat with up to 20 contacts in a single conversation, and have up to six different conversations at the same time with people on PCs, mobile phones and other Xbox 360 consoles. Current relationships on Windows Live Messenger and Xbox Live are now unified on Xbox 360 and users can see at a glance if their existing friends on Windows Live Messenger have gamertags.

“Bringing the largest IM community in the world, Windows Live Messenger, to Xbox 360 makes sense, as Xbox Live has really become the largest social network on television," said Jerry Johnson, product unit manager of Xbox Live at Microsoft. "For our growing community of 6 million on Xbox Live, using Xbox 360 is a very social, connected experience. They are using Xbox 360 to play games, music and movies while simultaneously communicating with one another through video, voice and text chat. With this announcement we are simultaneously expanding the access of Xbox Live users to existing friends and family while introducing Windows Live Messenger users to the benefits of Xbox 360."

To further facilitate easier text entry on the Xbox 360, Microsoft will release sometime in the summer a QWERTY keypad attachment for the Xbox 360 controller. Perhaps the most effective solution is to plug a USB keyboard into the console, which is now an officially supported feature of the Xbox 360. Those without USB keyboards or the keypad attachment will have to enter text using a virtual on-screen keyboard.

Chatty features aside, gamers will be happy to know that the Achievement system is now more informative. Achievements will now pop-up, notifying the gamer of the name of the achievement and the value, without the need to manually check the list. Also, now the Dashboard will identify which game is in the DVD-ROM drive, rather than simply displaying the “Play Game” text it previously did.

A new Xbox Live Marketplace “blade” has been added to better focus on downloadable game content, TV shows and movies. Great news for those who frequent the Xbox Live Video Marketplace is progressive download control letting people fast-forward, rewind, pause and resume as their video is downloaded. Furthermore, extension of the background download functionality will allow owners to set their Xbox 360 console to turn off automatically after downloads are complete.

Updates to Xbox Live Arcade allow owners to quickly see which games their friends are playing and join in the fun. Xbox Live members can also compare progress of leaderboard scores and Achievements directly with all friends on their friends list. A new option in Auto Downloads will provide faster access to the entire collection of free, trial-version Xbox Live Arcade games.

New on the side of Xbox 360’s video playback is support for H.264 and MPEG-4 codecs, though unfortunately for DivX downloaders, the Xbox 360 will only natively support the WMV and MP4 containers—not AVI or MKV.

The Spring Update is now available to every Xbox 360 owner through Xbox Live or on Xbox.com.



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By therealnickdanger on 5/9/2007 8:42:46 AM , Rating: 4
OK, so here is the full situation on Xbox 360.

There are TWO distinct updates/releases. One for the console/dashboard and another just for HD DVD. They have different release schedules although they are very, very close to each other as I type this.

The dashboard update has the support for different video levels on VGA which people have noticed with dull looking video. This fix applies to all content coming out of the 360, and not just HD DVD output.

The HD DVD update has support for better dynamic range on audio, and support for DTS, WMA Pro, etc. It also has fixes for lip sync and a number of compatibility fixes for various titles (include DVE test disc).

The Elite has NOT shipped with the spring update for the dashboard. Nor does it have the HD DVD update. So you would need to upgrade it just the same when the updates come out.

Per my hint above, we are days away from HD DVD update being ready. So let's not talk about Fall, etc. for that release .

__________________
Amir
Microsoft (HD DVD insider)
VC-1 video codec insider in BD/HD DVD
Ask me questions about HD DVD here




By otispunkmeyer on 5/10/2007 3:48:32 AM , Rating: 2
what is nite mode?


By therealnickdanger on 5/10/2007 8:49:32 AM , Rating: 2
"Night mode" is a feature found on a lot of receivers and devices. It has to do with Dynamic Range (audio, not video/HDR). Basically, if you have crap speakers or headphones, they are incapable of properly reproducing the full gamut of subtle frequencies found in the encoded digital audio track of a given DVD/HD-DVD/BD or game.

What the Dynamic Range settings allow you to do is increase the dB level of quiet frequencies to bring them up near the level of the louder portions of the speaker system or you can set it to maximum and do nothing to the original track. Night Mode does the opposite and reduces the dB levels of the loud frequencies and bass output.

The 360 is trapped in this mode of operation due to an oversight regarding the design of the 360 dashboard. The Dolby "regulations" require that Night Mode be the default setting if there is no method within the user interface to deactivate it. It basically assumes that the 360 is a mobile DVD player. This update will change the default setting from Night Mode to FULL Dynamic Range.

*applause and gospel choir*


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