Will you buy the Kinect?

yes, at launch or during the holiday season
maybe later


Crave Online

Week of January 7, 2007
Decryption Keys For HD-DVD Found, Confirmed
>> From slashdot.org:
It appears that, despite skepticism, Muslix64's BackupHDDVD was the real deal. Starting from a riddle posted on pastebin.com, members on the doom9 forum identified the Title key for the HD-DVD release 'serenity.' Volume Unique Keys and Title keys for other discs followed within hours, confirming that software HD-DVD players, like any common program, store important run-time data in memory. Here's a link to decryption utility and sleuthing info in the original doom9 forum thread. The Fair Use crowd has won Round One; now how will the industry respond?

News-Source: slashdot.org
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(Saturday 13 January 2007 23:53 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Discovery: Boot Xbox360 from 1888 Kernel - Downgrade Kernel
>> Robinsod over at the XBH forums probably found a way to boot his Xbox360 with the original 1888 kernel ('BK' kernel). The onboard flash of the Xbox360 contains the full original kernel (v2.0.1888.0, which is the first public kernel release) and patches (this is what MS adds when they release new kernel updates) to update the kernel to the latest build (currently at v2.0.4552.0). Apparently the systems scans for version numbers in the headers of kernel patches and then selects what to load, by deleting (null) the (non-encrypted) headers (esp. version numbers) of the patches Robinsod probably managed to get his Xbox360 to boot the original 1888 kernel (v2.0.1888.0).
While the Xbox360 software (system>console settings>system info) reports being in 1888 kernel it has yet to be tested if it really is booting only the 1888 kernel without patches (looking at the dashboard features is no option ... the dashboard and kernel are not the same, the dashboard stays as it is).
I have now successfully mounted my HYNIX flash in a socket and developed code to read, erase and reflash areas of that flash. I have also been sniffing the flash bus during the 360's power on sequence.

I believe my 360 was last updated from the NFS:Carbon game disk. The Kernel and Dash versions are reported as:
D 2.0.2868.0, K 2.0.2868.0, BK 2.0.1888.0

The read sequence I observed agrees broadly with that posted on free60 and when "condensed" it looks like this:
Power On:
Reads 0x000000 - 0x0001FF
Reads 0x008000 - 0x00E1FF ---"CB"
Reads 0x000000 - 0x0001FF
Reads 0x001000 - 0x003FFF
Reads 0x00C000 - 0x00C1FF
Reads 0x00E000 - 0x0699FF
Reads 0x06C000 - 0x06C1FF ---"CF"
Reads 0x07C000 - 0x07C1FF ---"CF" As per free60.org upto here
Reads 0x06C000 - 0x07BFF0 ---"CF" My log differs from free60.org from here

Notice how the 360 reads the first 0x200 bytes of the blocks marked "CF" and then selects one to read completely. This suggests that the 360 is reading the version numbers of kernel patches and selecting the most recent. In this case the patch at 0x06C000 is read.

To test the theory I erased:
1) 16KB block of Flash at 0x06C000, result:
D 2.0.2858.0, K 2.0.2858.0, BK 2.0.1888.0
2) 16KB block of Flash at 0x06C000 and 0x07C000, result:
K 2.0.1888.0
3) Inserted the NFS:C disk and reapplied the 2.0.2868.0 update, result:
D 2.0.2868.0, K 2.0.2868.0, BK 2.0.1888.0

So now I need to find a suitable test software to verify that the console really is downgraded to 2.0.1888.0. The kiosk disk perhaps...

Interesting reply from TheSpecialist:
I'd like to toss in my theory about the 'patches'. There are 2 questions here:
1. Why does MS upgrade via 'patches' and not just by sending the whole files and
2. Why don't they just patch the files in flash, but instead, keep the original files + patches in flash?

There are various good answers to question one, but I think the best answer is that it has to do with the limited space. Now, it is very easy to roll back the kernel: they always keep the original file, so they can hold various kernel versions in the Flash, because the patches are relatively small. If they wouldn't use patches, but complete files, then they wouldn't probably have space enough for 2 kernels !

About the answer to question 2 I am pretty sure: they simply can NOT patch the exe files themselves on the flash ! Because doing so, would break the signature, so they would need to resign the files and MS is not going to send us the private key to do so ;) Besides, another reason would be that rolling back would be more difficult.

So, to conclude, the filesystem always contains the V1.0 version of the files (well: 2.0.1888.0 November 22, 2005 Original shipped version), plus the patches. The 360 scans for the latest patch, loads both the original exe and the latest patch, checks BOTH files for their signature (at least, that is what i EXPECT) and then creates the new, 'patched' exe in its memory.

Note that right now, booting up with the 1888 kernel doesn't bring any real advantages (except maybe booting the kiosk disc from recordable media), but it might come in handy later.

Full Story/News-Source: xboxhacker.net (hacking discussions ONLY! - thx)
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(Saturday 13 January 2007 00:45 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Chris Satchell Interview: Markets, XNA, Live Anywhere, IPTV, Video Marketplace
>> TeamXbox.com got another interview with Chris Satchell (General Manager of Microsoft's Games Developer Group) at CES 2007. Here's an excerpt:
* TX: You recently announced that the Xbox 360 has passed the 10 million units sold mark. What's the next big milestone that you're aiming for?
* Chris Satchell: I think for this fiscal year that we're aiming for that 14 to 16 million mark, and after that it's just onwards and upwards. We've have announced any new targets beyond that.

* TX: Speaking of XNA, you've been giving it away and giving it to students, but how do you plan on getting the games to people? Is it just going to be through Live Arcade, or will there be some other form of distribution?
* Chris Satchell: Well, there's several ways. On Windows, there aren't many restrictions, in that you can get a re-dist, and people are doing that right now. At the moment, as you know, on Xbox 360, it's restricted to members of the Creator's Club. Our vision is to create a separate sharing mechanism that's separate from Xbox Live Arcade. It's sort of like a Community Arcade, like a YouTube of games, as we talk about it. The idea here is that you can create games and share them with the broadest audience on Xbox Live. That's one way.
Another way is for the top of the talent. I think either us or the publishing community is going to see what's hot, see who's a hot developer, and actually work with them with publishing deals to get this stuff on Xbox Live Arcade. I think those will be the two main channels. The sort of "best of the crop" will get moved up to Xbox Live Arcade, like a premium content channel, and then you've got the fun, community sharing arcade where everybody can take part. So we are working on other mechanisms.

Full Interview: teamxbox.com (2 pages)
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(Saturday 13 January 2007 00:11 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Three HD Layers Today, Ten Tomorrow?
>> From dailytech.com:
Ritek is disclosing behind closed doors at CES its own achievements in multi-layer HD optical media. Ritek claims to not only have been able to produce a three-layer and four-layer HD optical discs, but to have successfully designed HD media with a full 10 layers. The company says that its multi-layer process can be applied to both HD DVD and Blu-ray formats.

At base specifications, 10 layers on an HD DVD would yield 150GB, assuming 15GB per layer. For Blu-ray, the total over 10 layers jumps to 250GB, assuming the base 25GB per layer.

While those numbers do sound impressive, Ritek officials point out that the real barrier to this advancement is the lack of reader and writer laser diode technology to support the additional eight layers above the current standard.

Full Story: dailytech.com
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(Friday 12 January 2007 22:49 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

LG Hybrid HD DVD/Blu-ray Player Getting Canned?
>> From gizmodo.com:
As we reported from CES, LG's BH100 fully supports Blu-ray discs, but since it lacks support for HD DVD's iHD, HD DVD's interactive menus, you can only see the movie straight through.

So as a result, the DVD Forum might sue LG for falsely using the HD DVD logo and for falsely saying that their hybrid player plays HD DVDs when in fact it doesn't play them the way they were intended to be played.
Microsoft was also a bit miffed at LG for... not giving them a heads up before announcing the BH100.

Full Story: gizmodo.com
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(Friday 12 January 2007 22:11 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

(USA) Xbox 360 HD-DVD: 92K Sold
>> From next-gen.biz:
Research firm NPD Group tells Next-Gen that the Xbox 360 HD-DVD movie player add-on has sold about 92,000 units in the US since its mid-November launch last year.

According to NPD's figures, the hardware sold 42,000 units in November and 50,000 in December.

NPD analyst Anita Frazier said that the life-to-date figure indicates a 2 percent attach rate to the Xbox 360 install base. The firm reported last night that life-to-date Xbox 360 sales in the US stand at 4.5 million units.

Full Story: next-gen.biz
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(Friday 12 January 2007 21:46 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Talismoon Twilightflow Green and Red for Xbox360
>> Talismoon already released the Crystalflow, Chromeflow and Blue Twilightflow some time ago, and today they come with a Green and Red version:
Let the heat out of your console with the Twilight Flow Wind Tunnel by Talismoon.
Just snap it in place of your OEM Xbox 360 fan duct to go from "dull" to "cool"!
Soothing blue/green/red light flows through the specially formulated plastic at all angles for the ultimate custom look that only Talismoon can provide. Combine the Twilight Flow with other Talismoon products (like the Blue Whisper Fan) to provide a complete effect that will amaze your friends.
Works best with a clear transparent case or with an Xbox 360 with window installed, and enjoy a custom unique look. Built in flat LEDs are specially manufactured to color match the blue LEDs of the Talismoon Whisper fan. No tools installation requires Energyser Y splitter (or any other power splitter).
Talismoon Twilightflow
Talismoon Twilightflow Talismoon Twilightflow

Official Site: www.talismoon.com
Buy Now: Green | Red | Blue | Crystal | Chrome
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(Friday 12 January 2007 13:52 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Castlevania Breaks 50MB Arcade Limit
>> From gamespot.com:
The upcoming release of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night as a downloadable Xbox 360 game is noteworthy for a few reasons.

Symphony of the Night is not a "small-scale" game in any sense of the phrase. It's based on an existing home-console game, a distinction on Live Arcade only shared by the upcoming Alien Hominid HD. Konami has confirmed to GameSpot that the final size of the Symphony of the Night download will surpass Microsoft's 50MB size limit for Live Arcade games.

Even though Symphony of the Night will exceed the size limit, Canessa (Microsoft's group manager for Xbox Live Arcade) indicated that there is still a 50MB cap on Live Arcade games, although Microsoft is willing to make exceptions to the rule. "If any games do exceed 50 MB, it's for a very specific reason that would ensure that the gameplay experience is the best it can be," Canessa said.

Full Story: gamespot.com (via xbox360fanboy.com)
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(Friday 12 January 2007 00:17 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

(USA) Official NPD Numbers for December: 1.1m 360s
>> From gamasutra.com:
According to the official hardware statistics released this afternoon, the PlayStation 2 continued to be a popular platform at retail, selling 1.4 million units for the month (37.1 million to date in the U.S.). The Xbox 360 also impressed, selling 1.1 million in December (with 4.5 million lifetime to date), while the Wii sold 604,200 units for the month, putting its total North American number sold at 1.1 million units.

Elsewhere, the severely supply-constricted PlayStation 3 was found to have sold through 490,700 units for the period, with 687,300 units sold since its launch in November - no doubt a disappointment for Sony.

Other data released by NPD this afternoon includes specific accessories sold throughout December, the most popular of while was Microsoft's official Xbox 360 wireless controller, which sold 832,800 units during the month.

Full Story: gamasutra.com
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(Thursday 11 January 2007 20:09 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Team Xecuter Update: Blaster360 and X78
>> From Team Xecuter:
First of all we hope you had a great Xmas and wish you the best for 2007.

OK Blaster360 hasn't shipped yet. Found a last minute glitch when dumping games - not reliable enough for my taste. Flashing is perfect of course but dumping games works 7/10 - I want it 10/10 so im just fixing that right now - wont take too long i'll keep you updated.

We also re-made the X78 mod so it patches the 078k drive for standard modeb use (Connectivity Kit + X360 USB) without the need for SLax or anything else. I'm just waiting on some samples to ship out to a bunch of beta testers.

I know we seem to be a little slow on dev lately but we just want to get things done right without having to address problems later down the road. Thanks for your patience.

Team Xecuter also released new info about their PS3 Hyperdrive (a product that will enable you to connect any size HDD both whether it's sata or ide to your PlayStation3 using a plug and play system) ... head over to ps3scene.com for more details and pictures.

Official Site: http://www.team-xecuter.com
Pre-Order Blaster360 ($70/€60): Divineo USA/CAN | ModChipStore USA/CAN | MrModchips Europe/UK | Divineo Asia
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(Thursday 11 January 2007 14:51 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

More on Xenon360 Console Shells - 'Hinged Design' Video
>> From Xtreme Enterprise:
While the pictures in yesterdays news item don't really do the new case justice (after all, these are just prototype pictures), the actual retail version will definitely impress. Many in the Xbox community were wondering after we posted the feature stories, "hey, what happened after all that hype?" Well, we are very close to launching the XENON360, but not quite as yet. However, putting these pictures for all to see, gives us an opportunity to elucidate the various new features that has been incorporated into the new design and also signifies how committed we are to launching an innovative solution for the Xbox360 case.

We start off with our fantastic hinged design. This solution eliminates the use of any tools or devices to separate the 2 halves of the console case apart forever. Simply pry open the 3 front hooks and lift off! It's that easy. Check out the youtube video we have just produced below. We'll have more in time to come:

Official Site: http://www.e-linksoft.com and http://www.xbox-central.com
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(Thursday 11 January 2007 09:43 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Japan dominates best-selling games franchise list
>> From gamesindustry.biz:
A list of the best-selling games franchises of all-time reveals that Japanese developed titles are the most dominant, with 10 brands in the top 20 coming from companies such as Nintendo, Capcom, Sega and Square Enix.

1. Mario (Nintendo): 193 million
2. Pokemon (Nintendo): 155 million
3. Final Fantasy (Square Enix): 68 million
4. Madden NFL (Electronic Arts): 56 million
5. The Sims (Maxis/Electronic Arts): 54 million
6. Grand Theft Auto (Rockstar): 50 million
7. Donkey Kong (Nintendo): 48 million
8. The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo): 47 million
9. Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega): 44 million
10. Gran Turismo (Sony): 44 million

Full Story: gamesindustry.biz
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(Thursday 11 January 2007 09:34 EST) - (Category: GamingGeneral) - (Posted by:: )

Xbox-Scene.com's 2006 Year in Review
>> It's that time of year again where I sit down and read every news post from Xbox-Scene.com's News page and refer back to some of my own notes during the year. The following is my annual rant and rave about what I felt were special, important, informative, or at the very least entertaining moments from the last calendar year. My views may not be yours, so bear with me. I've been doing this for a few years now and I'm not so sure why I started writing a Year in Review originally, but it's become a tradition. (Previous Year in Review)

2006 began the year feeding off of the momentum of the end of the last quarter of '05 which brought us the long awaited Xbox 360. The Specialist started work on the DVD drive unlocker that would later herald and usher in the DVD drive firmware hacking era. We were also mildly entertained for a period of time by the "hacks" and "edits" applied to the 360 Launch Kiosk Disk. In the end it was a bloody waste of time in my opinion. But, if wasting time on that Kiosk disk kept people off the streets then I guess it wasn't' so bad after all.

January 2006

The year started with more follow-up news surrounding the Kiosk disk. This time around, it pertained to the scumbags that figured out it was now possible to start cheating and faking your xbox 360 Live Arcade achievements in the Hexic Game. More Kiosk disk news appeared, showing us research that showed the XEX was little more than a Flash 5 or 6 loader or some such thing. It was now possible to run half crippled Falsh 5 SWF files on a Customized Kiosk disk burned to media. (for those willing to spend the time to find and weed out working Flash programs and animations etc.) What was interesting was the theories bounced around by the researcher involved, that there was a possibility of a Web Browser for the 360. Bunnie chimed in and had high hopes for the potential of the Kiosk Disk. Those hopes were never realized though. Major Nelson later in the month shot down the rumors of the cheat actually working.

Our friends over at [H]ardOCP showed us what would pretty much be the first water-cooled 360. I don't count the one that appeared by that commercial company at the end of '05 as theirs was mostly a proof of concept for an ill fated product launch. Some of our other friends over at GamersReports.com took some time and played a bit with their LIVE profiles and figured out it's pretty easy to get alternate region based content to download from the Live Marketplace. MS would later make it harder for people to use this method to download content from regions other than their own.

The good ole' boys at MS gave us some interesting news from CES 2006 Keynote Address, with MS committing to releasing an HD-DVD add-on for the 360. We expected it when it was hinted in Sept. '05. It has since become the cheapest HD player on the market, and has been used to help break, or in the very least help get past the copy protection schemes of the HD-DVD format.

Owning a 360, after owning an original Xbox for years left many of us upset that we couldn't migrate our old Game Saves from the original console properly. Rymez2K managed to bring us hope, and some proof of getting an original Xbox Game Save working on a 360. Giving birth to an entire segment of the scene dedicated to Xbox 360 Game Saves including the site 360gamesaves.com site.

January Modchip maker news; TeamXecuter announced and confirmed that more than one legit team had modchips in development for the 360 covering different aspects and interests in the scene. Ustler at Blacklisted411.net finalizes his research on the scam modchip outfit that promised a 360 modchip. He helped to put down the efforts of the scammer from taking a foothold in the scene and scamming people of countless thousands of dollars. After a long, long wait Xodus finally commits Xenium GOLD to production and samples arrived.

In the January dumbasses dept., an L.A. Pirate was indicted for violating the DMCA when they were caught selling modified Xbox' with larger hard drives preloaded with 77 games. A theme we'd see time and again in the scene for the rest of the year with many others either selling bootleg copies of games, or selling pre-dumps.

Rumors pop up that the missing members of Xlink have signed on to a commercial tunnel/service project for Sony. I'm still not sure how true that story is/was.

TeamXtender announce/preview 360 Faceplates. These were the first non-licensed faceplates to appear. Some were marred by production/quality problems. (link) & (link). TeamXtender also moves into the 360 Case market with some early promotions and propaganda material.

Something I was extremely happy about was the news that Team Xored's ETM/XBTF engine was now fully integrated into XBMC. For those that don't know it meant that we can now enjoy full trainer support without loading old obsolete dashboards. Something else happened though that I wasn't too thrilled about, I had to go on the offensive and defend myself against accusations that one or more chip teams have been in contact with me (HSD) and that I, or we (the scene) are holding out on the general public about some happenings. There will always be situations in which we here at XS may have advance notice of a new development in the scene, but that is mostly because we are so entrenched in it. We can't be faulted for being some of the Xbox' biggest fans now can we? :) This was probably a much bigger event for me than for anyone reading about it, but it's a rare situation in this scene when we have to take a stance and publicly stand behind it.

The end of January also saw MS giving us a major Dashboard update that included a number of fixes and issues. Ultimately, it was designed to weed out Kiosk Disk users as it . blocked the disk from being used on updated 360's. This was a major step towards crushing the Kiosk disk "scene" that was slowly taking root.

The Specialist concludes early work on the DVD Drive firmware hack and decided he won't be the one to release it publicly. I remember thinking at the time that I respected his position, and his reasoning for it. I do also recall though feeling that after the weeks of hype and exposure that was given to him and his research that it was a bit selfish for him to not take that next step and release everything himself. Fortunately, the work was continued by the scene using his work from XboxHacker.net and is eventually released in various 360 drive flavors for all the different drives with near weekly updates.

February 2006

We see the first of many garbage products for the 360 in 2006 starting with the Datel 4gb Micro drive add-on for 360. Made from the same craptacular and buggy 4gb micro drive available for the PSP.. The drive Datel used had issues keeping up with mp3 on a PSP, can you imagine how bad it was on a 360?

One thing that really sucked about the 360 was it's Media Player capabilities. Runtime of XBMP fame launched Transcode 360(info)(info) Beta, a great tool to transcode video on the fly into compatible media for streaming to the 360 console. So much of the video formats we love and enjoy couldn't be touched by the 360, and that's where this app came in. Transcode 360 would remain one of the most popular developments for the 360 for the rest of the year.

Angerwound and company released Xplorer360(info)(info) and launched 360GameSaves.com to aid people in the process of managing all of the content and files on their 360 Hard Drives. Angerwound's work was so good Datel and others started to use the software in their commercial products.

March 2006

XS and Team Blackbolt launched a new forum dedicated to the expansion and propagation of the Blackbolt Skin for XBMC. (as well as other Blackbolt projects). It becomes the official forum for his work, and a cornerstone for his future projects.

MS graced us with another dashboard update and it would appear that it was the cause for at least some 360's taking a shit and dying. We also learned about the discovery of Foil on the thermal pads/goop although people in the know will attest to the fact that the foil was an intentional addition to the Xbox 360 assembly process and wasn't an errant mistake or oversight.

XS hits our first milestone of 2006 hitting the 275000th member to join our site. It's a great milestone to hit, given that we strive to continue to grow with and expand with only funds from sponsors, with only the minimal ads necessary while remaining independent of their influence. Something that is just about unheard of in this scene these days.

With only a few months from rumors to proof of concept to reality, Pirate Kiddies worldwide rejoiced at the announcement of the Xbox 360 DVD Drive Firmware had been hacked. (link), (link), and TeamXecuter even tries to get in on the action, (link). MS did respond though.

HyperX (one of a few new rare chips released in '06) modchip is announced and apparently made available. Whoopie! Yet another cheap chip to sit and collect dust. Not to be outdone, Team Omega released the DuoX 2 GS, another cheap chip for the budget conscious. This was a sign of the times for the scene, as budget chips seem to be the only chip news during this part of the year.

MS announced cheap XDK for Game Developers. This should have been big news, and I suppose it was. Deep down though I can't help but feel we'll never see anything much come of this. We want true homebrew with the shackles off, not development under MS rules.

April 2006

Xbox Live Diamond Cards finally appear and just about all of them were buggered with typos. God bless MS. What ever happened to Quality Control?

Datal announces XSATA, their 360 HD (sata) to USB converter. A device I think that is still under valued and under appreciated. Yes there are cheaper alternatives to getting data on and off the 360 Hard Drive, but few are as sexy. :)

In the April Fools Scumbags Dept., Devil360 announced and was deemed a hoax by all. 'nuff said.

NJ modder XboxExpert shows off his water-cooled case which we showcased on the main site and. This wouldn't be the first time XboxExpert made the news page on XS during the year though.

Team Xtender announced the progress and development of the 1st third party (and unlicensed) full case replacements. My review, which took months to edit, and fine tune actually doesn't appear until the end of the year. (review).

In the April Dumbass Dept, TeamXecuter lost their old domain name due to neglect and a lack of foresight. It then became the property of a scummy cyber squatter. Given time, they managed to get a new site up and running on the new domain Team-Xecuter.com where the site has remained ever since. Hopefully they manage this one better than their last one. We're still cleaning up broken links from the mess that losing their old domain caused.

People were experimenting with social/statistical site software, making websites that tracked your online gaming habits and spewed out various pages of info and produce readable pages of interest to you and maybe others. There are plenty more than those listed in that old article, but I can't think of them at the moment.

May 2006

South Park fans had to be tickled pink when they saw Cartman and company pay . homage to the 360 in an episode that ran in May. Oddly all the controllers appeared wired in that episode. What's up with that?

Dean Takahashi published his book "The Xbox 360 Uncloaked". This book like many other "xbox" books are best read when attempting to fall asleep quickly as a non medicinal sleep agent.

E3 brought us a flurry of announcements, including MS's announcements of the new peripherals for the 360 and at their Pre E3 Press Conference and later we're treated to full pics of a lot of 360 new peripherals.

What would May have been without at least one incarcerated pirate story.. "California Pirates pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate federal copyright law" I'm not sure why I'm so drawn to these stories of Xbox related crimes. Good news for me was that there was more to come as the year dragged on.

June & July 2006

One of the best known piracy related sites on the net, The Pirate Bay had it's founders arrested and servers taken down only to be back online and fully functional again in a matter of days. While this wasn't Xbox news, it was still interesting to see the attempts of authorities to take down what is clearly a pirate site, but having little effect as mirrors re-appeared almost as fast as the original was taken down.

Worlds first truly portable Xbox by Dave. Nothing I can possibly say can do this thing justice.

XBMC released with a beta version of the Team Blackbolt MC360 skin (link) & (link). This was a nice vindication for Blackbolt after months of listening to people call him and his crew a bunch of liars and scammers. While his skin was not perfect and many people had issues getting early versions running, it was a huge leap forward and a breath of fresh air.

Dano2k0's Internal waterCooled 360 gets published in OXM Something to be proud of to be sure.

TwistedSymphony's "wireless" Sega Saturn controller mod for 360. What can you say about a guy that lives Modding and comes up with stuff like this? Make more. :)

July wasn't all smiles for XS. Personally I think our greatest moment of shame came from a story we posted from trusted sources, the infamous "anonymous" photos of homebrew running on a 360 . We fully intended to follow that news post with more news from our source. I even went to bat in the forums defending the story. Still do. However, we never did do the follow-up story that would have told everyone that while what you saw was real, the rank and file members with regular non Dev boxes were never going to be able to do the same. For that, I'm eternally sorry. I'm hopeful that 2007 will show us that there is an opportunity to get homebrew working for the masses. I'd hate to think Backups and Piracy are as far as we'll ever get on the 360.

Yet another internet Petition was launched, this time one to force Microsoft to extend the Xbox warranties in North America to 1 year. I doubt it had anything to do with MS's eventual change of heart later when they decided to give us what we wanted Warranty wise. I liken their decision to be more about grabbing some good PR in light of what was then the impending PS3 launch.

August 2006

Not sure if it's in the water, or if something else was afoot, but at least justice (sic) was handed out as one man gets life, 2 others get the death sentence in Xbox Slaying case. Sometimes, I just can't wrap my head around why people commit violent crimes, clearly there is more to the story than what the article revealed.

TVersity Media Streamer announces support for 360 giving us another great option for getting media playing on a 360 that Microsoft never intended us to be able to do. If you haven't tried it, you really must. It will change how you use your 360.

New about the ACME Game Store copyright infringement case were released.. with 3 year sentences with stipulations handed down to a number of people involved, with yet one fugitive still on the run. Wonder if this could get optioned as a movie script.. nah!

Xecuter jumps into the DVD Firmware Devices market with it's release of the X360USB to much fanfare.. (link), (link) and announcement the XHM project, later releasing the source code (link). It was interesting to see the level of cooperation between TX and the rest of the scene.

The long rumored Ipod killer by MS is announced and Zune is it's name. Can MS do to the MP3 player market what they did to the Video Game Industry? Guess time will tell. They are already 2nd in the industry though. Not bad considering the short time they've been in the market.

MS announce XNA Game Studio Express for the masses as a cheap entry point for anyone who wants to develop for the 360. (link) and faq (link) & (link) & (link). As I suggested earlier, I doubt we'll see much come of this.

A number of sites appeared that would do interesting things with your Xbox Live stats, including a progress chart, tag comparisons and more. None of them are particularly useful in my opinion, but for the ultimate Xbox Fan you now have more Xbox related sites to visit.

Anyone who is enjoying the Retro Games in the Xbox Live Arcade probably became as interested as I did when this news broke about Madcatz releasing the Retro Gaming Stick for 360 While not cheap, I really don't see anything better to play some of those arcade games with. Another Toy I was interested in was the Live Vision Camera. With so much promise for skinning characters in games with our own faces, and the ability to stream live video during online Chat and games how could we lose? (link).

Roadmap revealed for Xbox and PC gaming cross-platform. (link).

MS released another backwards compatibility update for the 360 yet so many good games are still not listed. I think it's better to think of the 360 for it's new games and for the Xbox Live Arcade then to think of it as a truly backwards compatible console. Well over 70% of all of my original games still don't run on a 360. I've long since given up on the notion of Backwards Compatibility.

September 2006

Ben Heck did the impossible, or at least the improbable with the world's first Xbox360 watercooled Laptop. (link). If you have to ask why he did it, no answer will suffice. The rest of us will just sit in awe and wish he'd make some more for us.

Info regarding the new Laws for Australia modding scene are released to the public. (link). However some back peddling occurs months later (link) which more or less puts them back where they were.

PG4 releases XB Stream v1, first proper RSS Feed aggregator for the 360... (link). Something I completely missed out on before writing this review. How could I have missed it?

Xecuter announces Blaster 360, an add on device that made opening and reopening that case every time a firmware update was needed obsolete. (link) & (link). Clearly with the same design flair and quality we've come to expect from Team Xecuter over the years.

1080p output from Xbox via component and VGA cabling explained and . better defined. If you read in the forums, you'll notice people still having a hard time getting their heads around 1080p and the 360.

Halo Wars announced at X06. Now what could be better than Halo as a FPS? Real time strategy apparently. I gotta admit I'm looking forward to it.

For some, XBMC 2.0.0 set and released (link) was big news. For others, it's just another awesome update to the Killer App for a modded Xbox.

October 2006

For the first time we saw a true crossover promotion with a video game entity and a non video game entity when Burger King and Xbox teamed up to push 3 Real Xbox games. Retailing for $3.99 each, we were treated to what is definitely the most interesting Burger King marketing gimmick yet. To tell the truth the games are decent for what they are. Frankly, The King is pretty freaky. These games are definitely not some afterthought. Worse, they are better than so much of the current library. It doesn't suck having games I can have younger family members play when I feel Gears of War or Rainbow Six isn't appropriate. :)

GaryOPA took the time to detail all the new ANTI MOD stuff MS was doing to current DVD readers in the 360 including applying black glue or epoxy to critical components. Modfreakz posted a good removal technique video

Xbox Live reaches the 4 million member mark. (link). As milestones goes, it's a good one. On the topic of milestones, long time XS sponsor LIK-SANG was finally forced out of business by Sony. I'll leave the nasty comments to your imagination. MS also managed to sell Six Million Xbox 360's sold and in the wild. (link).

Blackbolt's New Skin Projects revealed, including "eX" for 2007. (link). I'm a huge Blackbolt mark, so I'll sit in anticipation. :)

How can we forget.. The first time we saw a 360 fry an egg. I don't know what's worse, seeing the egg fry, or the time I waste thinking about how'd I have done it better.

The Fall Update, which included 1080p, streaming WMV, play video from all kinds of new media and devices graced us boxes with improvements we should have had at launch. Then the other shoe dropped and we found out that this update apparently caused numerous failures and error of consoles, including Error 66 on some Firmware modified consoles.

November 2006

Just as October was ending, November continues on with more Dashboard Update related news, including all the video formats supported, and more Error issues, and solutions and recommendations. (link). A by-product of the update appears to be the end of most of the achievement cheating/trading. (link). 1080p didn't work for everyone either. (link). 1080p.. so close, and yet so far for some.

DRM setting up shop on the 360. (link). Nothing much to say other than DRM sucks donkey's balls. So anything that even remotely resembles DRM is going to be a pain I suspect down the road.

MS with yet even more announcements of Hi resolution TV, Movies and other programming for the Video Marketplace on LIVE (link), (link) and later launched (link) with slow downloads.. (link) and the service more or less self destructs under the load. (link) and MS does some damage control (link). I'm sure it sounded like a good idea in the LIVE conference room. :)

HD-DVD lands to decent fanfare (link) and PC driver support. (link) and fully opened and tested (link) and discoveries are made, including the drive has memory (link).

The truth revealed about the Nyko Intercooler, it's a fire hazard as many suspected while Nyko plays damage control. You gotta love watching companies back peddle while trying to cover their collective asses.

I couldn't write this review and not mention one of the worst ideas I've seen all year for the 360, fuzzy shells (link) and fuzzy faceplates (link). Nothing like look at your expensive 360 with 25 cents worth of fake fuzzy stuff that slowly falls off the faceplace and enters every nook, crany, and crevice of your 360. Imagine those fine fibers as they slowly choke your DVD reader out.

Has it been 5 years already? 5th anniversary of HALO rolled around (link) with news and Halo 3 trailers (link) .

Ok.. I was pretty gung ho about Microsoft releasing the Wireless Headset for the 360. then, the anticipation quickly turns to a churning stomache as reports of numerous nagging problems plague the device and defect video released a litter while later (link) & (link).

Gears of War launches and hits a 2 week sales record of 1 millions copies sold.. and quickly sets the tone for the 360 sales wise for the rest of the year.

TVersity updated and patched to stream just about anything we'd want to a 360. (link) & (link).

December 2006

Tests of Halo3 Alpha on LIVE or so it would appear (link), first Halo3 Commercial hits TV (link) and another trailer.. (link) also, Crackdown will be shipping with an option to join the Halo3 Beta. (link). Why do I get the sick feeling we are being conned into buying a really bad game?

That crazy guy at BenHeck.com did it again, this time a one handed 360 controller. (link).

The long arm of the law was pretty active as a man in England was sentenced to 120 hours of community services for chipping consoles while you wait. (link) while a local NJ modder was arrested in the same month for bootlegging. (link).

Blue Dragon Xbox360 released and shoring up sales figures for the 360 in Japan. (link) & (link) & (link) not that it'll change much in that region. It's a short term lift to a region MS still can't seem to crack.

Rounding out the year Gears of War, does sales in the area of 2.6 million units sold and even better news than that was Microsoft's Xmas present to the past, present, and future 360 owners. A proper 1 Year warranty, retroactive, and they even offered to reimburse those that have already paid for service. (link).


I didn't want the review to be littered with the literally dozens of advancements made in the firmware hacking area, so now I'd like to take the time now and acknowledge all of the contributions by those that have made the firmware hacks possible giving us at least the option of backing up our investment.

(Birdy, Commodore4eva, eXOBeX, Flash78, Gael360, Garyopa, Geremia, HellDoc, KaWeNGoD, Klutsh, Kreon, Maximus/Carranzafp, Redline99, Ryanmp31, SC3N3R, Schtrom, The Specialist and any others I might have forgotten) There was simply no way I could cover the work you did in the review and do it justice. Take a bow gentlemen, you've earned it.

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(Wednesday 10 January 2007 21:35 EST) - (Category: OffTopic) - (Posted by:: )

Microsoft Wins Emmy for DirectX
>> From xbox360fanboy.com:
Microsoft today announced that it has won an Emmy for, ahem, "Pioneering Work in Near and Real-Time Fully Programmable Shading Via Modern Graphics Processors." It's got to be hard to write that all on one envelope. A simpler way of saying it: DirectX got an Emmy.

Full Story: xbox360fanboy.com and emmyonline.org
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(Wednesday 10 January 2007 19:59 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Firm Sues Big Three Over Analog Control
>> From next-gen.biz:
A Texas-based investment firm is suing Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony over alleged infringement of a controller-related patent involving analog-to-digital control.

Fenner Investments says that the three console makers infringed on patent 6,297,751, titled "Low-Voltage Joystick Port Interface." The patent, filed in 1998, describes an analog joystick which outputs a digital signal that signifies a coordinate value, a method used by the sticks commonly found on today's standard videogame controllers.

Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have all filed similar analog controller-related patents in the past.

Full Story: next-gen.biz
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(Wednesday 10 January 2007 19:40 EST) - (Category: Xbox_Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Microsoft's Chris Satchell: HDMI Just 'Experimentation', Bigger HD Talk
>> From gamespot.com:
* GameSpot: What can you tell us about the HDMI-enabled Xbox 360 rumors that have been going around?
* Chris Satchell: We're always working on prototypes and new technologies and just playing with stuff in Redmond to see what's interesting. I think at the moment we have the widest available connections on the system. If you want to get great HD, I think we've got a good solution for that. In the future it's interesting to see where standards evolve to. I think one of the problems that the whole industry, us and entertainment, are facing at the moment is we're in this world where standards are evolving very quickly.
We have different high-definition standards for discs that we know are competing at the moment. We think HD-DVD is going to be the right way to go, but really it's all about choice in that system so that's why we're offering these sort of services with downloads--skip that whole "format wars" problem. With other standards, audiovideo standards, they're evolving very quickly as well. We're obviously keeping an eye on that and saying, "What are the future standards and how do we give consumers the right choice for that?"
At the moment, everything you might have seen is just looking at our experimentation back in Redmond, not really a product that we're thinking about announcing.

* GameSpot: All this cool HD stuff that you're talking about starts to take up space. The 20GB for a lot of people is already starting to fill up. Seeing how Microsoft has been great about responding to customer needs on the Xbox 360, can you speak to larger-capacity hard drives?
* Chris Satchell: That's not really something we're looking at today. We're very open to feedback on it. As we produce these services, if we see an increase in pressure that's something that will be interesting to look at, but there isn't any announcement today about any new configuration that may or may not be happening.

Note: Obviously Microsoft is not gonna announce a HDMI Xbox360 until they are ready to launch it - that would hurt the sales of the current Xbox360. However, they finally acknowledge the HDMI prototypes are real :) It's a prototype and not retail board, but we never told you otherwise. I guess we'll have to wait longer to know if/when MS will release this output in future revisions of the retail motherboard.
Full Interview: gamespot.com (via kotaku.com)
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(Wednesday 10 January 2007 14:25 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Moore, Satchell savage 'talentless' Sony at CES
>> From gamesindustry.biz:
Speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz, the Peter Moore and Chris Satchell (two senior Microsoft executives) branded the Japanese firm's online service for the newly-launched console a "disaster" and said the company lacks the talent and the "DNA" to ever deliver a suitable online console service for consumers.
"It's going to take [Sony] a couple of years to get up to speed on this, and I'm not sure that they necessarily have the talent, or it's built into who they are as a company," Moore said.

Satchell bore similar sentiments. "If I wanted to make my online service better, and I wanted to give [Sony] a little piece of advice, it would be to copy Xbox Live a little more closely," he said.
"My honest opinion is that it's pretty much a disaster. They keep saying that they have a free service. Well, if they don't have anything, of course it's free. And you know what: what's free about $600?"

Full Story: gamesindustry.biz
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(Wednesday 10 January 2007 14:21 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Fantasy360 Console Shells: Renamed Xenon - First Pictures
>> From Xtreme Enterprise
Reality has finally dawned upon us with the advent of the new 360 case from Xtreme Enterprise codenamed the XENON 360 case - a redesigned Xbox360 Console case solution for everyone who owns an Xbox360. The multple feature stories that we ran last year is coming to fruition and is definitely worth revisiting as most of the problems stated within has been addressed and solved in the Xenon360. We will be doing a Press Release on this product at a later date, but we'd like to first give you a preview of the initial pictures of the Xenon360 in the flesh. Enjoy!
Xbox-Scene Xbox-Scene

Official Site: http://www.e-linksoft.com and http://www.xbox-central.com
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(Wednesday 10 January 2007 14:09 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

(CES07) Warner Officially Announces Total Hi Def Hybrid Disc
>> From engadget.com:
Warner Home Video's press conference concerning the Total Hi Def disc that has HD DVD and Blu-ray all on one disc is currently ongoing, and it stated that the discs are able to contain dual layers of both HD DVD and Blu-ray on one disc. The first Total Hi Def releases will hit in the second half of this year, but no specific titles have yet been announced. At the conference, Warner used a copy of Superman to show off how it worked in an HD DVD player, Blu-ray player, and the recently announced LG Super Multi player that plays either. Finally, Warner claims it will not cost "materially" more than a regular disc.

Full Story: engadget.com
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(Wednesday 10 January 2007 00:15 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

(CES07) Major Nelson Videos: Peter Moore, IPTV, HD-DVD, Arcade
>> Major Nelson (Microsoft's Xbox Live Director of Programming) posted several videos about the Xbox at CES 2007:
* Peter Moore at CES
Major Nelson interviews Peter Moore, corporate VP of the Interactive Entertainment Business in the Entertainment and Devices Division of Microsoft, at CES 2007.
Stream Video: High | Low

* IPTV Interview
Major Nelson has the scoop on IPTV, the new Xbox 360 application that allows you to watch live TV on your console.
Stream Video: High | Low

* HD DVD Player
Major Nelson has more details about the HD DVD Player, one of the most popular accessories for Xbox 360.
Stream Video: High | Low

* Xbox Live Arcade
Major previews Worms, Heavy Weapon and Castlevania; highly anticipated titles coming soon to Xbox Live Arcade.
Stream Video: High | Low

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(Tuesday 09 January 2007 22:35 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

MC360 XBMC Skin v1.0 Nearly Complete
>> From Team BlackBolt:
Hey guys, Blackbolt here. I would like to firstly say Happy New Year to all our users and those that are just passing through. I hope this year is as successful for our Team as the previous year was. Ok onto business, MC360 final build, 1.0.10xx will be ready for public consumption very soon. Jezz_X and I have been battling each side of the jobs to do with furocious speed this past week. I have covered the graphical needs and Jezz_X has been hammering the code. Alot has changed since our last public release on Sept 28th 2006, so we are going to include a total indepth changelog with the new build. I have included a screenshot below of the latest version as of now, you may be able to notice some of the graphical improvements bringing the quality right upto the real Xbox 360 dashboard. Thanks for being patient and its not long to go now before you can all sample the delight that is a years hard work for us all. Click the image below for a bigger 720p Preview.

Official Site: blackbolt.x-scene.com
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(Tuesday 09 January 2007 21:40 EST) - (Category: Xbox) - (Posted by:: )

Hardware Market Shares Thru' 2010: 360 1st in USA, 2nd WorldWide
>> From next-gen.biz:
New figures from SFG Research have placed Xbox 360 as North American market-leader through 2010, with Wii a distant third over the next four years. But it's a different story worldwide, where PS3 is predicted to lead by 2008.

The cumulative NORTH AMERICAN sales for each platform are as follows:
* Xbox 360
2006: 6.0m, 2007: 12.7m, 2008: 19.5m, 2009: 24.9m, 2010: 29.4m
* PlayStation 3
2006: 0.5m, 2007: 7.6m, 2008: 13.8m, 2009: 19.5m, 2010: 24.2m
* Nintendo Wii
2006: 2.0m, 2007: 5.3m, 2008: 8.6m, 2009: 11.4m, 2010: 13.5m

The cumulative WORLDWIDE sales for each platform are as follows:
* Sony PlayStation 3
2006: 1.0m, 2007: 19.5m, 2008: 35.5m, 2009: 50m, 2010: 62m
* Xbox 360
2006: 10m, 2007: 20.5m, 2008: 30.5m, 2009: 39m, 2010: 46m
* Nintendo Wii
2006: 4.0M, 2007: 10.5m, 2008: 16.5m, 2009: 21.5m, 2010: 25.0m

Full Story: next-gen.biz (3 pages)
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(Tuesday 09 January 2007 19:41 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

XboxMediaCenter (XBMC) 2007-01-09 SVN rev7554-proper build - T3CH
>> T3CH released a new SVN compile (7554-PROPER) of XboxMediaCenter(info).
This T3CH-compile is a complete snapshot of what is in SVN at the time the build was compiled, with just a few small additions.

Special Notes and Noteworthy/XML/Script changes:
* rev7554-proper: A developer left a spelling error in English strings.xml. Fixed now, sorry for the error!
* Cool News; I started my own website. Thanks to Endpoint Corp. for the hosting.
* * I'm including a preview (070108_2) of the new mplayer Elupus is working on, report issues here. It's located in the TEST subfolder, simply replace the 2 files in XBMC/system/players/mplayer/ if you want to help Team XBMC test it.
* Since I haven't seen any newer version of AMT than 0.93.5, I applied the fix floating around so atleast it works now.
* I also tweaked the win32 run_me_first.bat so it runs and then unmounts the virtual drives when you exit.
* I'm also including the 'XBMC Win32 PC environment' .exe that is meant for skinners & python developers, read more about the concept here. It was built using Microsoft DirectX Summer 2004 SDK.

Here's the added stuff since the 2007-01-01 SVN Rev7469 Build:
* added: notification of reservation for the video library stuff.
* added: localized ascending and descending strings.
* added: [ 1624734 ] Allow Dim screensaver to go to 0%
* added: Scaling of fontwidth in 16x9 views (to maintain aspect ratio), and added tag to override this. All 2.1 skins will be scaled by default.
* added: tag for togglebuttons when in alternate state.
* added: .pls as a normal extension for video's too
For the full changelog (fixed/changed/updated stuff) click here.

Keep in mind this is a SVN snapshot of the current development tree. It's not an official (stable) point release. Use only if you know what you are doing.

Official XBMC Site: www.xboxmediacenter.com (manual and FAQ)
Official T3CH Site: t3ch.xil.us
Download Binaries: n/a (built with XDK) | Download SourceCode: here
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(Tuesday 09 January 2007 16:07 EST) - (Category: Xbox) - (Posted by:: )

Xbox360 January 2007 (small) Dashboard Upgrade
>> It looks like Microsoft released a new dashboard upgrade today. From Major Nelson:
Earlier today the team pushed out a dashboard update over Xbox Live. There is nothing major in this one, it just addresses a few performance and stability issues.

Dashboard&Kernel version updated from 2.0.4548.0 to 2.0.4552.0
Thanks to twistedsymphony for news.
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(Tuesday 09 January 2007 14:58 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

More details about Xbox360 IPTV in USA
>> From thunor.spaces.live.com:
In talking to Microsoft today at their booth I discovered that the Podcasts speculation that this really won't be all that different from current cable TV is correct:
* The service will be offered in the US thorugh AT&T's lightspeed, which provides 35Mbps in bandwidth to the home. So AT&T would replace your local cable company and ISP.
* This bandwidth should be enough for 2 HD channels and 2 SD channels to be viewed simultaneously. The service will be comparable to existing cable offerings, only the provider will be AT&T.
* Availablity will be determined by AT&T's buildout of infratructure up to the last mile (The last mile will remain copper.).
* The service will be available with a regular set top box that is not an Xbox 360. However, with an Xbox 360 you get some nice features like the ability to access Xbox live (e.g. chat, accept game invitations) while wathing TV.
* For homes with an existing home network, your router will need to be replaced with a router that has special QOS (qulaity of service) features that enable the system to work well.

Full Story: thunor.spaces.live.com
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(Tuesday 09 January 2007 14:53 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

CES 2007: Microsoft Will Add Games to Zune by July 2008
>> From teamxbox.com:
Microsoft will introduce video games for its Zune music player within 18 months to match features available on Apple's dominant iPod.

Peter Moore confirmed the plan to Bloomberg yesterday, saying the Zune's large screen will offer a better way to play handheld games.
"I love the interface, I love the screen,'' Moore said at a dinner with member of the press during the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Full Story: teamxbox.com and bloomberg.com
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(Tuesday 09 January 2007 13:08 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

New Maps coming for Gears of War
>> [QUOTE]
A Gears of War update should start pushing through the system at some point tomorrow, Tuesday January 9, 2007 prior to the two new multiplayer maps being available on Xbox Live Marketplace on Wednesday January 10, 2007.
for the full story..
News-Source: Gears of War Forums
News courtesy Leftyfb
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(Tuesday 09 January 2007 01:17 EST) - (Category: (default)) - (Posted by:: )

on10 about new IPTV feature coming to Xbox360 - 9min Video
>> From on10.net (FYI: on10 is a Microsoft owned blog):
You heard it from the mouth of Microsoft "Carbon" is official. Now xbox lovers can enjoy episodes of their favorite television shows from the comfort of their wireless 360 controllers. They've added television into the menu in your dashboard. Jesse sat down with the brains behind the feature and talk about multi-tasking. Now you can watch Desperate Housewives and Tyra all at the same time. But don't worry your friends will still think you're playing Halo.

Go watch/download the 9mins video with an exclusive look and information behind the IPTV interface on Xbox360 (you'll see a lot more than shown during the CES keynote): on10.net
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(Tuesday 09 January 2007 00:43 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Analyst: $60 Pricing May Not Be Sustainable
>> From biz.gamedaily.com:
Is $60 too much for a game? That's a question that has been asked repeatedly over the last year as the next-gen market has taken shape. Nevertheless, one analyst doesn't think this price point is very sustainable, as recent price drops on some titles (like Madden, right) seem to indicate.

According to analyst Jeetil Patel of Deutsche Bank, "either the industry is still in transition, or $60 pricing is not sustainable." Patel pointed out that in the past cycle, price cuts on Madden didn't occur until at least April. "In this new cycle, we think it [is] critical that $60 next-gen prices last at least as long as $50 prices did in the prior cycle in order to compensate for steeper development costs, a tougher competitive environment (which requires more marketing spend) and so that EA can replicate the 27% operating margins seen in FY04," Patel said.

"We believe the inability to sustain $60 into April suggests consumer appetite for premium priced titles is questionable. Note the reported reductions include Xbox 360 SKUs of the bellwether Madden game, as well as Tiger Woods & FIFA, the latter two being released this past quarter (all three cut from $60 to $50). Recall that EA also cut Xbox 360 prices in May-06 despite selling into price insensitive early adopters," Patel continued.

Full Story: biz.gamedaily.com
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(Monday 08 January 2007 23:58 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Starz Entertainment Teams With Microsoft to Bring Vongo to the TV
>> From the press release:
Starz Entertainment announced that Vongo, the Internet-based subscription video download service, will be available to play on the television as result of a new relationship with Microsoft for Windows Vista and the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system.

The new Windows Vista-enabled Vongo service will also take advantage of the Windows Media Center platform to allow users to stream movies and other content via Media Center extenders, such as Xbox 360 consoles, that are connected to the home network. The Xbox 360 will automatically check to see which Windows XP or Vista-based devices are registered on the network and ask the user whether they want to access content, such as their Vongo movies, from that PC. This is a simple and easy approach that solves past problems that required configuration and technical knowledge by the user. The launch of Windows Vista enables a new generation of users to enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience -- whether it's movies, music, games, or the latest TV shows.

Vongo subscribers have unlimited access to more than 1,000 movies and 2,500 total video selections as well as a live, streaming Starz TV channel for a monthly cost of $9.99. Select popular pay-per-view titles are also available for individual rental. In addition to Windows-based PCs, laptops and portable devices, Vongo subscribers can also transfer their Vongo content onto a TV for optimal viewing. Vongo was launched at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show and was nominated for two Emmy Awards this past year. Vongo is currently offering a 14-day free trial and is available as a free download for broadband subscribers in the United States at http://www.vongo.com/.

Read the full press release here
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(Monday 08 January 2007 23:32 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Moore: 5.3 Software Attach Rate for Xbox 360
>> From next-gen.biz:
Xbox boss Peter Moore says that the Xbox 360 enjoys a software attach rate of 5.3 units per console (not including XBLA titles), reveals the latest Xbox Live stats and reiterates a 13-15 million hardware shipment target for FY07.

Moore said that Microsoft is still on track to meet its goal of 6 million Live users by June 2007, the end of its 2007 fiscal year.
Over 100 million pieces of content have been downloaded from online store Xbox Live Marketplace and users have downloaded over 20 million Xbox Live Arcade games to date, according to Moore. Over 70 percent of Xbox Live members download content from Marketplace.
Moore outlined what he called the "stickiness" of Xbox Live, or the high activity of members. Xbox Live Gold subscribers have an average of 21 friends, and 2 million voice, text and picture messages are sent over Xbox Live. He called this community aspect "key" to the growth of the Xbox business.

Full Story: next-gen.biz
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(Monday 08 January 2007 23:00 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

51GB triple-layer HD DVDs in the pipeline?
>> From engadget.com:
At an HD DVD presentation held at CES, an interesting PowerPoint slide caught our eye, as it (very briefly) described plans to "expand HD DVD disc capacity from 15GB to 17GB per layer, and moreover, to add a third layer as well, eventually resulting in a 51GB HD DVD disc. Aside from upping the ante on Blu-ray's capacity by a measly 1GB (currently, at least), it's also noted that "technical feasibility" has yet to be confirmed, and that standardization wouldn't occur until Q4 of this year at the earliest, but it's a novel idea to say the least.

Full Story: engadget.com
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(Monday 08 January 2007 15:55 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Analysts Bet on 360 Price Cut in 2007
>> From gamespot.com:
Yesterday, two analysts spoke of a possible announcement from Microsoft. Michael Goodman of the Yankee Group went so far as to consider a $100 price drop for the one-year-old+ console--a doubling of the traditional $50 reduction.
In a morning note to investors, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian hedged his bets, declining to speculate on an exact figure a price cut could take, but he did introduce the topic.

Pegging his theory on the dual combination of greater production efficiencies and component cost reductions for the console, as well as a shift of the platform to a more mass-market consumer audience, he said a price drop in 2007 was a "possibility."
Goodman put a few more chips on the table, telling GameSpot he was looking at the March-June time frame as fertile ground for a price drop--and that if Microsoft really wanted to disrupt the console playing field, it would slash the price by $100.

Full Story: gamespot.com
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(Monday 08 January 2007 13:52 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

CES 2007 KeyNote (Video!): IPTV, 10.4m Sold, 5m Live subs, 2.8m GoW, ...
>> Conference is over now ... you can read our LIVE coverage of Bill Gates' Keynote at CES 2007 at the bottom of this news article.
Here's a video we quickly encoded and uploaded to google video for you. It's not the complete keynote, it's just the part hosted by Robbie Bach from Microsoft's Entertainment Division (which includes everything about the Xbox360 including the IPTV demo toward the end of the video). The audio (mp3) of the complete keynote is available at Major Nelson's Blog and Microsoft released a high-quality video stream of the complete keynote here.

Engadget has some high-res pictures of the Xbox360 IPTV interface.
IPTV Xbox360 IPTV Xbox360 IPTV Xbox360
More screenshots on engadget.com

Here's what's in Microsoft's CES2007 press release about the Xbox360 - Microsoft confirmed the previously leaked info ... 10.4 million units sold and IPTV coming to Xbox360:
Xbox 360 and Microsoft TV: Together Expanding the World of Games and Entertainment

In a move that will combine the power of Xbox 360 with Microsoft TV IPTV Edition, Bach provided an early look at a new service, IPTV on Xbox 360. The offering is expected to deliver world-class TV experiences such as digital video recording capabilities, with gaming, movie viewing, and even voice and video communications. Tapping into an expanded set of entertainment experiences, users will be able to watch their favorite sporting event live while chatting with their friends, for example, or participate in a match on Xbox LiveŽ while they record a TV program in the background. IPTV on Xbox 360 is expected to be available to consumers by holiday season 2007 and will be offered by providers that are deploying TV services based on the Microsoft TV IPTV Edition software platform.

"Our goal is to make entertainment more personal, more interactive and more social," Bach said. "IPTV on Xbox 360 and Xbox Live are powerful examples of ways we are bringing together the worlds of gaming, TV viewing and community to make it easy for people to access and discover their favorite content and share their personal experiences with the communities they are part of."

Microsoft TV IPTV Edition continues to strengthen its position in the market with deployments under way with five of the world's largest service providers and trials with 11 additional companies, representing a footprint across 14 countries on four continents.

Bach also showcased the strong momentum behind Xbox 360 and highlighted the company's success in delivering high-definition viewing experiences with HD DVD. Exceeding expectations by hitting the 10.4 million-console-sold mark this holiday season, Xbox 360 is the leading next-generation games and entertainment platform. It is also the largest social network in the living room, with 5 million Xbox Live members.

In addition, strong sales of the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player and strong demand for downloadable movies and television programs are a clear indication that increasing numbers of consumers see Xbox 360 as an ideal device for connecting to a broad range of entertainment experiences. In just over a year, people have downloaded more than 100 million pieces of content to their Xbox 360 consoles, which include game content, television shows and movies.
Read the whole press release here.

Another press release from CES about the Video Marketplace expansion:
Content Providers Validate Xbox Live as One of the Top Distributors of Online Entertainment Content

The surprise entertainment hit of the holidays wasn't in theaters; it was in the living room. With more than 1,000 hours of premium high- and standard-definition content available, Microsoft Corp. announced today at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that Xbox LiveŽ Video Marketplace became a clear leader in the distribution of online entertainment content. In just two months since the launch of the service, the Xbox Live community has been given access to top high- and standard-definition content, from top partners CBS Broadcasting Inc., MTV Networks Co., Paramount Pictures Corp., Turner Broadcasting System Inc., Ultimate Fighting Championship and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Xbox 360 is again leading where it counts, as the only next-generation console offering downloadable high-definition TV shows and films in the U.S.

Microsoft Announces Lionsgate as Newest Content Partner
On stage at CES, Microsoft also announced today a new partner for Xbox Live Video Marketplace. Lionsgate will be bringing a lineup of high-definition films to the service in the coming year. Films such as "An American Haunting," "Blair Witch Project," "Crank," "The Descent," "Employee of the Month," "Hard Candy," "Ninth Gate," "The Punisher," "Requiem for a Dream," "Saw III," "See No Evil" and "Stir of Echoes" will be available for download on Xbox Live Video Marketplace in high definition in 2007.
"This partnership is great for Lionsgate. The Xbox gamer is the same moviegoer who wants to watch "Saw III," or "Crank," said Jon Ferro Exec Vice President of Lionsgate. "That is why we are so thrilled to bring Lionsgate films to Xbox Live Video Marketplace. Bringing our content to this audience makes perfect sense and reflects our commitment to remain at the cutting edge of content distribution to new media platforms."

Xbox Live: A Leading Online Provider of High-Definition Content
Xbox Live, the only online social network in the living room, is a thriving community of more than 5 million members who have the ability to download a wealth of high-definition games, television and movies. On Xbox Live, the largest online distributor of high-definition content by volume, the vast majority of subscribers choose the high-definition version of media when given a choice between a standard- or high-definition download on the network.
Read the whole press release here.

Here's our LIVE coverage of Bill Gates' Keynote at CES 2007.
Duration of conference was aprox. 90 minutes.
* 6:35 ... not started yet. Still waiting.
* 6:40 President of the CEA (Gary Shapiro) is on stage. Introducing Bill Gates. 10th year he speaks at CES.
* 6:48 ... MS promo video running showing many MS products including Xbox 360 and Zune. Also some Gears of War footage ;)
* 6:49 ... Bill G coming on stage now. Says he loves giving the keynote each year. He will be there next year too, but maybe not after that [he won't be MS CEO anymore].
* 6:51 ... Talking about the new PC/internet market ('digital decade') growing. Young people are more behind their PC than TV.
* 6:55 ... Important year of MS, many new products they have been working years on are coming out now: (1) Windows Vista.
* 6:57 ... Talking a bit about Vista now.
* 6:58 Other important product release: Office 2007. Comes with many big changes. LIVE services to share info/files across people and devices.
* 7:01 ... Vista and Office2007 demo on stage now by Justin Hutchinson. Some nice features like: "shadow copy" restores old version of modified files.
* 7:05 ... using his Xbox360 controller with his Vista PC to fly over LA with a 3D city model (Virtual Earth 3D). This feature is made available now on LIVE services.
* 7:07 Talking about MCE in Vista now. "Sportslounge": sports details (like players details, match results, hot headlines) in real-time while watching a LIVE HDTV feed. You can watch HD feed while working on your PC.
* 7:10 "DVD Maker" ... easy to burn DVDs in Vista without 3rd party software.
* 7:11 "Groupshot" Combines good features of two bad photos into one good photo. Demo shown - kinda weird.
* 7:12 Vista will support "Full Motion Desktop" (moving wallpapers!). You can even use any homemade movie for this.
* 7:13 Vista demo over, Bill Gates back on stage ... talking about "Certified for Windows Vista" products from hardware partners (even Sony is named ;)).
* 7:18 Video of some "Windows Vista PCs" from several brands.
* 7:20 Now talking about "Windows Home Server", a new market for Microsoft. Video of HP Media SmartServer. Storage available to all devices on network, features like: auto backups, remote connectivity (secure over internet). You can connect PCs, Xboxes, Zunes etc to it.
* 7:25 Robbie Bach on stage now ... head of home entertainment division.
* 7:26 MS wants us to be able to get the content when we want and on the device we want, anywhere anytime. "Connected Entertainment".
* 7:27 Talking about Zune now. They are 2nd in the mp3-market [after Apple of course] ... 'on track' to sell 1 million units.
* 7:28 Talking about mobile phones now. Windows mobile phones outsell Blackberry.
* 7:29 Talking about "Games for Windows". 200 million people every month play games on Windows. Not only hardcore games, but also casual games. Video playing of upcoming games like AOE3, Shadow Run, Alan Wake, BioShock, Flight Sim X, Rail Simulation, World in Conflict, Hellgate, Company of Heroes, Geometry Wars, Halo2, Age of Canon, Crysis, ... I missed many lol ... going too fast.
* 7:32 Xbox 360!
-10.4 million consoles SOLD
-160 High-def games, will double to 300 titles this year.
-Launched in 37 countries
-Many 360 owners new to the Xbox platform.
-2.7 million copies of GoW sold in 8 weeks! GoW as important as Halo franchise now.
* 7:34 Halo3 video! ... starting with the 'ESPN ad' we all saw already. Nothing more :(
* 7:36 Xbox LIVE ... 5 million members, largest social network on the TV.
* 7:37 Demo of LIVE on Vista ("Live Anywhere") ... playing UNO on LIVE with Vista PC (with Xbox Controller) against Xbox360 players. UI customized for Vista. The "LIVE Guide" is also available like on the Xbox360 (friends, messages, ...). Coming this summer.
* 7:40 3 billion hours of gaming on Xbox LIVE so far.
* 7:41 HD-DVD top selling HD format last year. Xbox360 HD-DVD Addon is most affordable HD-DVD player. They produce as many as possible, but they continue to sell out.
* 7:42 You can also get HD content streamed via Windows MediaCenter (30M copies sold) connected to Xbox360.
* 7:43 3rd way to get high-def content on Xbox360: Xbox360 Video Marketplace ... Lionsgate added as new partner. Demo of how easy it is to get a movie on Xbox360 via marketplace.
* 7:44 IPTV ... Microsoft TV. Demo of Microsoft's IPTV (instant channel zapping, picture in picture, on demand video, search of your favorite programs, ...). Demo is actually running from an Xbox360! They show "Xbox360 Guide" and launch GoW from IPTV interface. IPTV support coming to Xbox360! Gaming, TV, IPTV, Community ... all in 1 box.
* 7:47 IPTV will be available holiday 2007 for consumers via Microsoft's IPTV service provider partners.
* 7:48 Wrap-up of everything Robbie said. Gates back on stage now.
* 7:50 "Sync": Ford exclusive ... fully integrated, voice activated system ... you can connect all your devices (phones, zunes, USB mass storage, ...) with your car. Text-to-speech support for SMS, create custom playlists via voice command.
* 7:54 Gates closing keynote with look into the future ... Microsoft's "Connected Home of the Future". Demo in a kitchen (suggest recipes based on ingredients you place on the table (auto detected)) and bedroom (change music and look/feeling/lighting of the room or playing Xbox360 on a huge 'wallscreen' and post-it notes that pause the game when a reminder pops-up, ...). MS says they will needs lots of feedback from members for this.
* 8:03 ... That was all ;)

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(Sunday 07 January 2007 21:26 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

Mad Catz Xbox Live Retro Stick Review
>> From arstechnica.com:
Enter the Mad Catz Xbox Live Arcade Retro Stick. At $59.99, it's certainly not cheap, but the allure of having a real joystick to control these classic games was too much for me to pass up. Let's cut to the chase: I am very happy with the performance of this product. You don't often hear the words "performance" and "MadCatz" in the same sentence, but the joystick is very responsive. In Pac-Man I no longer found myself moving in the wrong direction. With the D-pad I would want to go right, but many times I'd end up moving up or down.

Downsides: The controller could be wireless, but it doesn't kill me to connect this to play the coin-ops. The unit is also not real useful for controlling other titles like puzzle games or traditional 360 games. You should know what you are getting here: you are paying $60 to play the coin-ops the way they were meant to be played. Dropping that much green for a controller is not for everyone, but those that do take the plunge will enjoy much-improved control for games that were intended to be played with a real joystick.

Full Review: arstechnica.com
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(Sunday 07 January 2007 19:43 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )

More Xbox360 HD-DVD Addons than Standalone Devices
>> From The Wall Street Journal:
Sales of stand-alone DVD players have been slow, but there is an alternative for consumers looking to try high-def discs: game devices. Sony's PlayStation 3, which costs around $500, comes equipped with Blu-ray. And for $200 consumers can pick up an attachment that plays HD-DVD movies for Microsoft's Xbox 360, which costs $300 to $400.

About 695,000 consumers own either a Blu-ray or an HD-DVD player, according to Tom Adams of Adams Media Research. But only about 25,000 have purchased stand-alone Blu-ray players. Another 400,000 consumers have Blu-ray because they bought a Sony PS3 game console. Meanwhile, about 120,000 or so have a stand-alone HD-DVD player while about 150,000 have an HD-DVD upgrade kit for their Xbox 360 game consoles, Adams says.

Some consumers have dodged high-definition players because they already own top-of-the-line DVD players that add higher resolution onto regular DVDs so they look crisper on HDTV sets. For those viewers, there might not be much advantage to the newer technologies.

Full Story: indystar.com
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(Sunday 07 January 2007 17:24 EST) - (Category: Xbox360) - (Posted by:: )


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