For the length of the beta program the Xbox 360 must have access to Xbox Live. This is typically accomplished by connecting your Xbox360 to your home network such that the Xbox360 has Internet access.
Presumably, Microsoft will drop this un-necessary restriction in the final Vista WMC release. As Andy points out, the reason you have a TV is so that you have something to do when your internet goes down.
"If you have a home network (wired or wireless), you can use Windows Media Player 11 to stream the contents of your library to networked devices. For example, if you have an Xbox 360 or other digital media receiver (DMR), you can use Windows Media Player to stream music, pictures, and videos from your computer to that device."
WMP 11 is an XP program. Putting two and two together led us to believe that WMP 11 would finally allow people to stream video to the 360 without a Media Center PC. Unfortunately, it looks like this functionality will have to be included in the expected fall update to the 360 dashboard. It's obvious that it's supposed to work, the 360 just needs an update to accommodate it.
On the bright side, WMP 11 does have Windows Media Connect built in, saving people a few steps in the 360 music/photo streaming process. We asked someone over at Microsoft to comment on the expected update for video streaming. We'll let you know what we hear.
Feel like suffering through bugs for the benefit of fankind? The Windows Vista people are looking for Xbox 360 owners to beta test Media Center Extender. The requirements seem simple enough:
- Do you have an Xbox 360 console, and is it connected to the Internet?
- Is your PC capable of running Vista Ultimate or Home Premium?
- Are you over the age of 18?
- Do you live in the United States?
European gamers will soon have the opportunity to batter their ear drums with an Xbox 360-branded surround sound set-up "designed specifically" for the next-gen console. Here's a description from the French site Le Journal du Geek (helpfully translated by Xbox-Scene):
The Pioneer HTP-XGS1 5.1 channel surround sound system is designed specifically to work with the Xbox 360. The unit has an output of 600 watts which will blow you away. The HTP-XGS1 is equipped with MCACC which stands for Multi Channel Acoustic Calibration. So what does MCACC do it measures your room's acoustic properties, and automatically adjusts the sound coming out of the speakers to to give you the best listening experience. The remote controller should also allow you to control some of the features of the Xbox 360. There's no price yet, but the device is expected in may in Europe (no US/Jap info yet).
Sounds ok, but other than marketing mumbo jumbo, the only thing that directly relates this product to the 360 is the remote. Couldn't they at least throw in a faceplate or something? Then again, we are fanboys and it does have a 360 logo on the cardboard. If the price point is decent I guess your purchase depends on whether or not your obnoxious audio snob friends will laugh at you for having a home-theater-in-a-box system.
As you may know, the Xbox 360's streaming capabilities do not support DivX / Xvid out of the box, to the severe annoyance of many people (Actually to the annoyance of 2195 people). Fortunately, there are a couple apps out there that solve the problem by converting DivX to WMV on the fly. Of course, you still need Windows Media Center.
MCE Video Encoder has the following features:
Transcode 360 (also supports Quicktime and Real Media Video) has been around since early February and is getting great reviews. If you try either one, report back with your experience / comparison.
- Start and Stop Streaming from Windows Client and MCE Add-in,
- Pause and Unpause Streaming from Windows Client and MCE Add-in,
- Rewind and Fast Forward the Streaming (by configurable amount) from Windows Client and MCE Add-in,
- Play the stream from MCE Add-in,
- View Progress of video encoding in Windows Client, and
- Remote control MCE Video Encoder through Windows Messages and/or Command Files.
Still seems like a hassle to me. This is one of those non-piracy related areas where a modded Xbox w/XBMC truly pwns the 360. Question for those with WMC: Are you using the Xbox 360's limited streaming capabilities regularly, or are you too busy playing GRAW like the rest of us?
XBMC hacker introduces Transcode 360
Microsoft has announced a deal with Epic Records that will bring music and videos from 12 "up-and-coming Artists of the Month" to Xbox Live. Meanwhile a sweepstakes will offer the chance to "Game With Fame" versus the sort of famous. Content will be free, but the best part is the voyage of discovery:
"The fusion of music and video games now plays a significant role in breaking artists and enhancing the video game experience; the cross- cultivation of the two mediums helps new games and new artists thrive together," said Charlie Walk, president of Epic Records. "Through this alliance, Epic and Xbox show that we are in one business -- exciting young adults and leading them to the art of discovery."
Hey, as long as I get to play Rockstar Presents Table Tennis against Judas Priest. So how many gamers will "discover" this feature to be more than just another marketing tie-in?
Attention Mac using 360 owners! The outrageously good Connect360 keeps getting better: they've just released version 2.0 with some pretty significant changes. They've made it Universal so it will run natively on the new Intel Macs; it's now a preference pane instead of a standalone app, offering a much more suitable interface for the functionality; and plenty of bug fixes and performance enhancements (the entire changelog is available after the jump). Best of all, 2.0 is a free upgrade for registered users!
Connect360 allows people who like both their game systems and computers to be elegant and attractive to enjoy some of the media extending capabilities of the 360. It's limited to iTunes and iPhoto integration, while video playback is still reserved for a Windows Media Center PC... for now.
Major update to Connect360; Mac users feel loved
Connect360 connects your Mac to your 360
Xbox.com's Elle has written an article explaining Media Center integration, how the 360 works as a Media Center "extender", and some tips for getting it to work.
It's pretty rudimentary for all the A/V nerds, but it seems to be a good repository of info, and a good starting point for any of you who keep wondering what all this WMC business is all about.
I'll be over here, waiting for someone far smarter than I to figure out how to get this functionality working on a Mac...
Many of our readers were thrilled to discover Connect360 after we posted about it last week. Connect360 "automatically indexes your iTunes and iPhoto libraries and shares them to your Xbox 360. You can then use the Xbox 360 Dashboard to browse and play your media, organized in the exact same way that it is on your Mac."
A simple, elegant solution that, unfortunately, refused to work for many. Undaunted by the task, the developers have already rolled out a significant upgrade addressing many network issues including improved network detection and Mac OS X Firewall support. Anyone with difficulties running this earlier have any better luck with this update?
Read the entire changelog beneath the fold.
During CES in January, Microsoft and DirecTV announced a "long-term agreement to expand the reach of digital content throughout the home and on the go." Part of that agreement involved extending "the DirecTV experience to the Xbox 360 system."
A scan of the March 2006 issue of Official Xbox Magazine reveals "that a DirecTV blade might be added to your Xbox 360 Dashboard to accompany the Xbox Live, Games, Media, and System blades. In that blade, you could download TV episodes in high definition, HD movies on demand, and standard-definition streaming DVR (i.e., TiVo) functions."
Looks like the PS3 won't be the only next-gen system with advanced media capabilities. Now the big question is, what'll it cost us?
Fanboy reader Chodite heeded our call for an image of Xbox 360 Fanboy running on an Xbox 360! It's all possible with Anthony Park's nifty MCEBrowser. Too cool!
Chodite also sent in some images of Google Maps on the 360, using the similarly nifty Google Maps MCE app. Read on for the maps.
One of the primary complaints of the Xbox 360's integration with Windows Media Center is that it doesn't support the immensely popular DivX and XviD file formats, instead supporting only Microsoft's proprietary Windows Media format. Microsoft has maintained this is because there are no legitimate implementations of the alternative codecs, inferring they are only used for pirated material. This, of course, is like saying that MP3s are illegitimate simply because online music stores don't sell the format, instead opting for DRM-restricted formats.
There are, of course, plenty of legitimate uses for alternative video codecs; I'm not really sure what Microsoft gains by arguing otherwise. Either way, it's irrelevant, since the community has filled a void that was notably present in the functionality of the system. Great job! Now to get video streaming from Mac OS...
Jake Ludington has a post up detailing the method he used to get HD video streaming wirelessly, without interruptions. His method involves using two routers to isolate the connection between the Media Center PC and the Xbox 360:
"Each wireless access point creates the equivalent of a single wired connection to your router. The more computers you connect to a single access point, the more you fill up the available connection, potentially resulting in an overloaded connection. By putting the Xbox 360 on it's own access point, you are providing the full capacity of that access point's available bandwidth."
It apparently works for him; he's streaming 1080p HD content "without any hiccups." Showoff.
Now you can check out Xbox 360 Fanboy on your Xbox 360! Anyone want to send in a picture?
More MCE apps:
Google Maps on your 360 with MCE app
[Update: Check out the creator of the MCEBrowser, Anthony Park's, site.]