If you haven’t had a chance to turn your 360 on today, you might want to do so since it will enable you to download the new Entertainment Experience update. This is a fairly substantial update that brings with it the new Xbox Music service and for the first time, internet browsing thanks to Internet Explorer — something to be excited about given that the PS3 and Wii’s browsers leave a lot to be desired.
After giving it a go, I can report that it’s the best console browser I’ve ever used, and while I don’t see it ever replacing my desktop browsing, it is really easy to use. Being able to zoom in and out with the triggers is nice, and using the right stick to move around the page while the left stick acts as a very accurate pointer. The controller-based layout is outstanding and the browser loads things reasonably quickly. It starts off with a hub page giving you access to things like Twitter and Facebook instantly, along with favorites and recent pages, but a simple press of the B button brings up the address bar and you can go wherever you want. I’m not quite sure how well it supports Flash. I loaded up a Nostalgia Critic video, and while it was able to show the starting image, the video wouldn’t play when I tried to. It could be due to Flash support being poor, or my own impatience, but other than that, I’m quite pleased with my quick check on the browser.
Xbox Music normally costs $10 a month, but gives you a month free — recommend so long as you’re a regular Xbox.com visitor more likely to remember to cancel the free trial. The menu is laid out as expected with easy to navigate long rows of two blocks that can be browsed through. Those who want to listen to popular stuff can do that with the top artists sections, while listeners wanting something that doesn’t simulate top 40 radio can search for any artist they want. It’s reminiscent of last.fm, but seems to have a broader selection of artists to choose from. This is an impressive update that extends the usage of the system for people who want stuff to do on it other than play games. Now you’ve got something that can play a ton of great games, watch movies and shows (thanks to Netflix, Hulu, and Crackle), listen to music and browse the web. The latter feature can really come in handy for when you’ve got a group of friends and someone wants to play Cliff Clavin and drop some ‘knowledge’ on you since you can just fire up Wikipedia and either prove them right or wrong