I know I'm not the first one on the site to get the NXE early, but I thought I would do a quick picture tour of it. This post is going to be very image heavy and I apologize that the images are not crystal clear. (taking pictures of your TV is hard and I'm shakey apparently). I'm mostly going to avoid stuff that I think was covered well enough on the official videos, (avatars and such) and get right to the details of some of the stuff I think it pretty neat and how things are organized.
After the quick install (takes about as long as a normal update), intro video and making your avatar, the first thing you will see is the welcome channel. It's basically a series of tutorials and such about xbox features and new features in the NXE. Probably most useful if it's your first xbox.
So, thankfully you can turn this off easily in your system menu
So once you get rid of that, the first thing you will see is the "My Xbox" channel (i guess channel is what they call them). This is on what I'm going to call the main layer where you can access my xbox, game and video marketplaces, events, friends and inside xbox. I'm not going to cover events and inside xbox as I don't think most care about that stuff. If you do, it's very similar to the rest of this.
So lets start with the My Xbox channel and the profile pages.
As you can see, there is my avatar (saying my motto in the speech bubble). You can also see my most recent played games, gamerscore and if I'm signed in or not. Farther down the line you see your games library, videos, music and system settings. So lets choose my profile right now and go to the next layer.
So here is the familiar gamertag along with direct access to messages, profile editing, changing themes, avatar editing and account stuff. Further down the line you can see my achievements broken down by game. It does this automatically and sorts by most recent played. I think it's slick as hell.
Lets look at games library next. First displayed is your recent games list, pretty self explanatory. To the right is the specific categories for ease of use. So lets take a look at arcade games and see what that looks like.
Selecting Arcade games will bring you to this screen. A nice list of your XBLA games along with conveniently displayed achievements right next to it.
Let's back up a bit and click on the game I have in the tray, Fallout 3. Here you can see your play options. I installed it to my hard drive so I have play from hard drive and downloads and then delete from harddrive. You DO need to have the game in the drive even if it's installed. Obvious, since without that you could just rent the game, install the game, and then return it. The next screen over has my achievement details for Fallout 3 and the third page there has a direct link to all the downloadable stuff for Fallout 3. Let's move down so the download page is at the front.
So here is the downloads page, a synopsis and then technical info about Fallout 3. So, just by having the game in your tray, you get direct access to basically everything you would need for that game. I foresee this being awesome if you want to check on new DLC easily.
Next on the main layer (by scrolling up and down) Game Marketplace is where you go to download arcade games, gamerpics, themes and anything game related (TV and movies is separated out). Along with some spotlights further down the line you can just hit A on "explore game content"...
and it drops you into the new layer, all sorted by arcade, XNA games, game add-ons and the like. As you can see, one of the cooler things about these menus is that all games have cover art! Even the XBLA games as seen here.
Let's click on portal: still alive and see what's there. The background changes to a custom image of Portal, we have our download links, screenshots (which you can blow up full screen and view sideshow style) Tech info about the game and a synopsis. Every link you look at, be it demo, movie or whatnot should have this type of info and it's pretty informative if you see something new on live. At least more informative then a block of text which they had before.
scrolling down within marketplace, we get demos. Almost all the marketplace menus will have the new, most popular and browse pages at the front so you can easily find whats new. The list at the end there is just direct links to the latest demos (and not what is actually installed on my xbox)
let's scroll down again within marketplace and look at game-add ons, besides the standard latest, most popular and browse that I mentioned earlier, I saw today this "music games" category. I'm going to assume that they will be putting in spotlight links like this a lot in marketplace. Let's click it and see what it has.
Well, look at that. Direct links to almost every music game on Xbox 360. Selecting these will of course bring you to their download pages and game info.
going back to the main layer is the video marketplace. This has it's own main tab separate from game marketplace. As you can see Netflix is right there at the front, so let's check that out.
By clicking on netfix in the previous shot, it will take you to the standard purchase screen for a small download ( the download is free ). As you can see the download screen remains largely unchanged.
Once you download it, selecting the same Netflix icon as before will now take you to this screen. I do not actually have an Netflix account, so I am going to stop here unfortunately. It is nice to see it's there and (apparently) working.
Backing up, let's check out that Iron Man tab we saw. Here you can see the background has changed to a custom pic of Iron Man along with download links, info about the movie and a synopsis. Pretty slick.
Back on the main layer is the friends list. Because I do not have anyone on my list with the NXE, all I get are those blank shadows for the avatars. The list scrolls left and right. Behind each player you can see what I'm going to call a diorama. This is the generic diorama that is used with every standard theme. As you've seen, I've been using a standard theme in this shot. Most of the old themes are going to look like this with the bottom cut off. It doesn't look so bad with ryu there, but to be honest, most themes look pretty horrible.
I discovered last night that some of the premium themes are available so I decided to check those out. Next is the same friends list, with a gears of war 2 premium theme applied.
Wow. So this looks alot different. The "ground" has changed to a shade of dark grey (it's always the same light grey for standard themes) and the background has a nicely framed picture of Marcus. Also the diorama has changed to some cool gears vehicles and rubble. Something that is universal to all themes is the small box next to the avatar that shows cover art what game they are playing. As you can see, our lovely Colette is playing Fallout 3. :D One thing to note is this "premium" theme cost me 250 MS points. That's a tad expensive for my taste, so I don't expect to buy maybe more then one more of these.
Next is the mini guide. This pops up when you hit the guide button on your controller. As you can see it's a tiny version of the old blades and works really slick. It's got quick access to everything including marketplace.
It's hard to see, but here is the game guide while I'm playing Fallout 3.
So that's about it. I know I didn't cover extensively everything about it, but I think I covered what will be the most traveled areas. I can't wait for it to release so I can really test out party chat, what a "NXE" friends list looks like and other things I couldn't cover here. Overall, my xbox feels like a whole new system and it's lightning fast. The avatars are cute but useless and thankfully only show up in your profile and friends lists on the dash. I really like how it's interconnected and it's very easy to find stuff.
Thank you for reading this and if you have questions that you feel I didn't cover, ask them in the comments and I'll try to give you a concise answer if I can. (and yes, feel free to send me friend invites at Techn0phile my list isn't nearly full enough)