Netflix streaming neat trick

Had to tell somebody… I was streaming a Netflix movie on the Xbox360 and thought it looked a little hitchy, not very smooth.  So I decided to stop it and move to the TivoHD, which I’ve used before and hadn’t noticed any issues watching Netflix on.

Well guess what, the movie picked up on the Tivo right where I’d stopped it on the Xbox360.  Basically resuming where I’d left off.  Pretty neat trick if you ask me.

Nothing special, but I wanted to share it.

ps. I haven’t forgotten about WMWiFiRouter, it worked great and I’ll have to pony up and buy it next time I go out of town.  Hopefully sometime soon I’ll have time to write a more detailed entry on how it did.

Alone in the Dark

I’d been slowly composing a quick write up for Alone in the Dark in my head over the last couple of days when I saw Zero Punctuation’s video review and realized I didn’t need to do anything. He’s done it better than I ever could have and my views align with his perfectly… we even stopped playing at the exact same point. So without further ado, here is a review I fully endorse and would’ve written if he hadn’t beat me to it. Just follow the link below for the video review.

NSFW Language

360 Redux

I picked up the 360 at the UPS center today. The guy working the counter brought the box out and said “Getting the xbox back eh?” They must see a lot of these things in order to recognize the box and shipping addresses on sight.

I’ve got it hooked up and running, and so far so good. Of course, it worked great last time they fixed it. We shall see…

Dead 360 Redux update

Well, it took much, much longer than the first time around, but my dead 360 has returned.  Or almost, as I have to go pick it up at UPS.  This time they are requiring a “Signature in person”

I’ll post up when I’ve got it hooked up and working.

In game adds in R6:Vegas

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Anyone else seeing in game adds when playing Rainbow 6:Vegas on the 360? My buddy was hosting a game and was able to see several adds posted up on the bulletin boards (or cork boards) on the LVU Campus map. I couldn’t see them on my machine, so it looks like some of the bugs are still being worked out. They weren’t obtrusive and were in a spot where you’d probably find something similar in real life, so it was pretty neat. There were ads for “Superbad” which you can see above, as well as some Comedy DVD with P. Diddy in it, Shark Week, and a poster that reminded you to “buckle up for safety”

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Is Microsoft squandering their lead in the console war?

Microsoft has made a few good changes lately. Upping the warranty for the red ring of death to 3 years, finally doing something about the red ring of death, getting several games that used to be Playstation exclusives released on the 360. But there is one glaring problem that until recently I couldn’t put my finger on. I knew it was out there, I just couldn’t vocalize because there was no precedent, there were no other broadband connected consoles to compare to so I figured it just wasn’t to be. I’m talking about user created content on a console.

It’s actually much broader than that, but essentially, at the core of the problem is the fact that xbox live isn’t an open network. Everything is tightly controlled by Microsoft. Remember the Gears of War maps that came out recently? Epic wanted them to be free, it was Microsoft that demanded the maps be premium content. I’d like to blame Microsoft for the Guitar Hero song pack pricing, but seeing as how Red Octane, or Activision, or whoever owns the franchise now hasn’t spoken up, I don’t know where to lay the blame for that one. The point I’m trying to make is that as nice as a global friends list and voice for every game is, it’s not going to make up for the fact that the PS3 is an open system where developers can release add ons and map packs and even user created content on their own without Sony (or in the case of Live, Microsoft) getting in the way demanding this and that must be charged for, this or that has to be released later or earlier or even stating that content can’t be released at all.

This interview is what crystallized the whole situation for me. The fact that Unreal Tournament III can have mods on the PS3 is enough to break me away from the 360 for that game. If more games continue in this trend and Microsoft doesn’t loosen the death grip they have on Xbox Live they will start losing gamers to the more flexible gaming platform.

Come on Microsoft, I prefer your blades to the Sony Media Cross Bar, I prefer the universal friends list to Sony’s patched together mess. I don’t even mind paying $60 a year for an online gaming service. But when you start limiting what publishers can release, or start messing with a publishers pay schedule, forcing them to charge for something that they themselves would like to be free. I’ll leave. I will pack up my bags and head out the door. Don’t make me…

Dead Xbox 360 redux

My 360 I had sent in back in November of last year has died again. I naively thought that once repaired it would always and forever be fine and sold my interim 360 to a friend. This time I am much the wiser, although MS is indirectly getting money for making a faulty product. You see, I plan on buying another 360 to keep me company while this one is being repaired yet again. Only this time it will be a refurb unit from Gamestop and I plan on keeping it as a backup indefinitely. Maybe even renting it out to friends who’ve had to send in their own 360’s. I’ve already had 2 acquaintances experience the dreaded 3 red lights for themselves.

I’ve heard the rumors of low shipping resources over at Microsoft, so I’ll keep track of everything here on this page. I called them last night and they told me to expect a shipping container in 3 to 5 business days… we shall see.

A couple of multiplayer game betas I managed to get an invite to.

I’m sure everyone has more than enough Halo 3 news to keep them occupied until well after the game actually ships, so I’ll keep this short. It plays great. If you like the feel of either of the other Halo titles you’ll feel right at home with this one. Yes, the graphics aren’t as polished as many hoped they would be, but it’s a beta. They could improve quite a bit before the game goes gold.

The other beta I’ve been playing this week is Warhawk for the PS3. Because of the timing of the betas I really can’t help but compare the two. It’s not really fair seeing as how Bungie has a couple games under their belt to base Halo3 on and Warhawk developer Incognito apparently only has Twisted Metal to fall back on… but hey, life isn’t fair.

Warhawk looks pretty good, arguably better than Halo3 at this point in time. Remember, both are in beta right now and a lot could change before they go gold. Warhawk also has a lot of vehicles to play with, and said vehicles have really good control and feel to them once you get used to the tilt controls on the airplanes. Where Warhawk falls flat is the controls for the soldiers on foot. The reticule moves slowly at first and speeds up as you move the right stick farther out from center. This works well with vehicles, but doesn’t feel right when controlling a foot soldier. It makes precise movement and aiming very difficult and, for me, very frustrating. At one point I basically gave up trying to aim at all and just let the auto aim do it’s thing while I strafed back and forth, shooting enemies. The scary thing is that that worked quite well. What that says about skill I don’t know.

The second group of issues I have with Warhawk is basic multiplayer commands, options, and conveniences. Again Incognito’s lack of experience in this field is the main thing holding them back. The game has some of the more obvious things right, like robust server lists that can be sorted by any column and player lists in game that show ping times, as opposed to the dumbed down green bars. Unfortunately other things are completely missing, like an icon on the player list showing who’s talking, or as was happening last night, who’s creating ear bleeding feedback. Or an easy way to mute said player, assuming you can figure out who it is. Also missing are icons even showing who has a mic period.

Fortunately, the reason for having a beta test is to find out about issues like these and fix them before releasing the game. I still have high hopes for Warhawk (Halo 3 is almost spot-on already) and hopefully Incognito can fix the majority of the game’s issues before shipping.

Westinghouse 42W2 LCD 1080p Monitor

I decided to go HD after buying my PS3 late last year. After much research I ended up buying a 42″ 1080p monitor from Westinghouse.

First off, everything you ever wanted to know, and some stuff you’d probably rather not know about this monitor (it’s technically not a TV because it doesn’t have a tuner built in) can be found in this thread over at the avsforum site. If you don’t feel like reading over 200 pages of posts, I’ll try and sum it up.

Westinghouse is a value brand, so they cut corners here and there. An example would be quality control. There seem to be a large number of these monitors with banding issues (vertical bands of color that are not lit evenly) and dead pixels. These monitors also have issues with the PS3, notably “sparkling” when displaying 1080p through the HDMI port. Luckily this television has two DVI ports, one which works flawlessly with the PS3 at 1080p. The good news is that, once setup properly, this monitor has excellent picture quality, often rivaling that of sets which cost twice as much, and often these more expensive sets don’t have as many inputs as the Westinghouse.

As a consumer, I took a look at all the bad, good, and otherwise, regarding this monitor and decided that for the most part, I could deal with some bugs in exchange for the excellent value I would be getting.  It also helps your peace of mind if you have a vehicle that the new tv or monitor will fit into so you can easily bring it back to the store.

My experience with the Westinghouse has been very good.  I was lucky and got one with no dead pixels, minimal banding (it’s only noticeable on certain panning scenes with solid color backgrounds) and the HDMI input even works well with the PS3!  There is noticeable sparkling only on still images after the sets been on for more than an hour or so.  If I had to do it again I would make the same purchase.  Just keep in mind, if you aren’t as easy going about some of its drawbacks you may want to look into the Sony Bravia line.  They have a 40″ 1080p set but you’ll pay a $500 premium for it and lose a tiny bit of screen size.

Busted 360 update

I got home yesterday and found an Xbox 360 waiting for me.  The ups guy had dropped it off earlier during the day.  Turns out it’s not the same one I sent in, microsoft just swapped out another one in order to “get me back in the game”.  That’s directly off the paperwork.  Seriously.

So anyway, everything works great.  I plugged in my old HD and was back up and running, with all my settings and themes etc. in place in no time. I even have an extra plain vanilla faceplate now, as I was instructed to remove my original before sending in the 360, yet the new one had one installed on it.  Thanks microsoft.  Aside from having to pay for what essentially should be covered as a manufacturing defect, the turn around time and phone support was excellent.