One of the downsides of two geeks getting married is that there is no-one to provide the “voice of reason” whenever either one of us wants the latest piece of technology. Normally the non-geek of the family would prevent too many frivolous purchases being made whereas conversations in our house tend to go more along these lines:
One of us: I want to get a insert_name_of_latest_cool_piece_of_tech
The other one: What does it do that we can’t do already?
The first: Not much. But it does it faster/with more style/better/whatever
The other one: OK, sounds cool, let’s get one!
And this is pretty much how we ended up with one of every games console on the market.
A couple of years ago I did attempt to exert a certain amount of restraint by insisting that we could only have one console hooked up to the main TV in the lounge, and the others had to be elsewhere. The obvious choice for the lounge console was the PS3 on account of the Blu-Ray player, so the Wii and the XBox 360 were relegated to our “playroom”. Then the Wii snuck its way downstairs (well, it’s great for “social” games). And then, when I was pregnant with the geekson we turned the playroom into a new bedroom for the geekdaughter, and so the poor old XBox 360 got packed away in a box. Yes, that means our XBox has been hidden away in a box for at least the last 18 months!
I tried to get the geekdaddy to sell it a few times, but he’s not good at parting with hardware. So it sat there, in its box, until a couple of weeks ago, when I was invited to become an XBox LIVE ambassador. The latest update to XBox LIVE has brought all sorts of new functionality to the console – TV, movies, music – it’s becoming a total entertainment platform, rather than just a games platform. And Microsoft want me to spend the next few weeks testing it all out, and letting you know how I get on with it all. Which, yes, means I had to dig the XBox out of its box and set it up again. Yes, in the lounge. So much for my plan of keeping the lounge reasonably tech-free. The geekdaddy, as I’m sure you can imagine, is absolutely delighted!
The first thing we’ve been testing out is the new LoveFilm streaming service. We’ve had a membership to LoveFilm for several years now, and have really enjoyed their DVD rental by post service. Lately, however, we’ve had less and less time to sit down together for a Movie night – according to the website the current DVDs that we’ve got have been with us since May! This is another service that I’ve been telling the geekdaddy we should cancel for a few months now, and again, like the XBox, he just keeps on hanging on to it!
Well, yesterday evening I was really pleased that he had hung on to it, because I had a rare evening in on my own. The geekdaddy was out for the evening, so I put the kids to bed, heated up my ready meal, and was then free to watch whatever I wanted on the television. And I suddenly realised – the TV was all my own, and I could watch a chick flick!
On first use there’s a small download to install the LoveFilm application to your XBox, and once that was complete I found it easy to navigate around the selection of films available for streaming. It’s a small selection at the moment, but I hope as the system gets more popular there will be more choice available. That said, there is a good variety in the films that are available, and I think most people would be able to find something to watch that would suit them. Only time will tell how often new films get added, or how soon after the release the films are available (I’m very out of touch with what’s on at the cinema these days, so couldn’t tell you if any of the available films were recent or not!).
Once I’d selected my movie it started playing almost immediately, and the quality was good – not HD, but still very good. The whole film ran through perfectly, and I suspect if anyone had walked in to the middle of it they would not have guessed it was streaming.
So I must say that my first experience of the new XBox LIVE has been very positive. I’m looking forward to testing the rest of the features. And I’m very glad that I didn’t make the geekdaddy sell the XBox or cancel the LoveFilm subscription, as I’m hoping to share a few more movie nights with him over the coming months.
If you’re an XBox owner and want to check out the new XBox LIVE features, I have an exclusive discount code for you. You can get 3 months of XBox LIVE Gold membership for half price. Just head on over to the XBox LIVE site and enter the code G3kM3mmy in the discount code box.