Well it's about time I told my XBOX 360 story and shared with you the journey I've had to the next generation of gaming.  It all started a few months ago when excitement began to build of the upcoming release.  I was anticipating the release just like everyone else but not primarily for games.  I've been running a Windows XP Media Center PC for some time now and the extender features of XBOX 360 was of particular interest. 

The initial dates were announced about the release date which was going to be early March 2006.  Due to supply and demand issues the date was changed to March 23 2006 in Australia which was fine because I wasn't going to buy one straight away anyway.  More on this later!

Close to the launch of XBOX 360 it was announced that there was going to be no Microsoft staff discounts and we would have to line up just like everyone else.  Oh well thats the way things go.  You can't get everything for free and there were good reasons why we had to do that.  At the end of the day that was the deal and we had to live with it.  Given that I'm in the middle of some major renovations at home I was going to delay this until the holiday season in the hopes of some good deals.

Anyway the 23rd of March came around and I cracked.  I was up at my local shopping centre and I happened to wander into JB Hi-Fi and lo and behold they had one left. I didn't have to wait in any lines so I grabbed an extra wireless controller and a game as well.   I caved and bought one without even consulting my wife which you can imagine what that was like!  She was going away for the weekend so it gave me something to do when she was away.

Anyway I got the console home and put together the following pictures of the unveiling at my house!


So here it is in the nice shiny box with my first Game "Tiger Woods 2006" and my extra wireless controller.

The first stage of opening the box with the console still in its wrapping.

More parts removed and the console out of its plastic wrapping.

Let's go green with the packaging!  Everything wrapped in green comes out of the box!

All the parts out of the box.  Man the power brick is huge!

In it semi-permanent home next to my LCD television.  As I said we are renovating so this will change.

So what has the experience been over the last week?

Setup

Setup was a breeze. I set the console to 1080i HDTV and connected it to my TV and it worked fine.  I went through a few setting changes and I was off playing Tiger Woods 2006. I'm not that impressed with the graphics of this game but is early days yet.  I haven't had time to play any others yet so stay tuned.

XBOX Live!

The next thing was to connect to XBOX Live! and migrate my settings from my old XBOX Live! account.  This was going to be a problem because my network infrastucture in my house was not up and running yet and the wireless router is way in the other loungeroom which we can't use as of yet.  Well I caught up with a friend and he had a D-Link Wireless bridge that he was testing.  Hint:  Not released yet!  I'm only going to use this for another week or so because all my structured cabling will be done soon.  Check out my MSN space for photos.

So I took the bridge home and connected it to my Wireless A network because my router supports both A and G 108mbs networks and so does the bridge that I'm testing.  I wanted the XBOX 360 to be on the A network so I didn't get interference from other devices currently on the G network.  This was not that straightforward in that I had to tinker around a bit to get this to work.  I ended up having to remove WPA wireless security from the A network to get it to work.  So once this was done I was able to get onto XBOX Live! and migrate my settings.  This was very easy and worked the first time.

Media Center Extender

As you know the XBOX 360 has a Media Centre Extender built in and now that I had the console on my network it was time to connect to my Media Centre PC.  Once that was powered on I established a remote desktop connection to the console by running mstsc.exe /console.  This means I was connected to my media centre as if I was locally logged on using a monitor.  The PC currently is running headless due to the renovations.  I went back to my XBOX 360 and hit the Green media centre button on the remote.  This detected a Media Centre PC but I needed to install some software first to connect them both up.  On the screen was a link to www.xbox.com/pcsetup which has all the instructions for getting it all working.  This was dead easy but it took awhile adding music to my XBOX 360 because I have over 500 CD's ripped on my media centre.  It doesn't seem to copy them to the XBOX; instead it puts a pointer to the file on the media centre PC. 

After this was all done I went back into the room where the XBOX was and the full Media Centre interface was sitting there on the screen.  How cool is this!  I tested some recorded TV and other videos and it just works so well.

Overall I'm really happy with the experience so far and in particular the Media Centre Extender is awesome.  The design of the new console is really smart and easy to use.  Everything works great and I'm having alot of fun with it; although my wife is still warming to the idea!

So "The Game has changed" and I'm happy with my new toy!  I now have about 6 games to play around with so its all good.  Most of those I did get for free or at a significant discount!

Cheers, Jeff