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Xbox 360 Online

Date: 05-04-2009   Click: 6396

Xbox 360 owners looking to socialize and play online can log on to Microsoft's Xbox Live service. You will need a hard disk and a broadband Internet connection for your console before jumping online.

Xbox 360 Dashboard

The Xbox 360 experience isn't complete without Xbox Live.

Microsoft currently offers a free Xbox Live Silver service and a premium Xbox Live Gold service which costs $50 a year. Both subscription levels allow users to create personalized gamer profiles and maintain friends lists, but the Gold service gives players access to online multiplayer games. The Silver service is just fine for people who enjoy the single-player or living room multiplayer experience and don't need to play online, but players itching to play with friends over the Internet should opt for Gold. Starting in late 2008, Gold subscribers that also have Netflix accounts will be able to stream movies from their instant queue directly to the console.

Players can create their own Xbox Live profiles by entering a unique "gamertag" username and selecting an avatar image. Players can then add each other to their friends lists to exchange messages and keep track of what everyone is playing. The online communication options include text messaging, voice chat, and even video chat for Gold subscribers who have headsets and the optional Xbox Live Vision camera accessory.

Xbox 360 Dashboard

Log onto Xbox Live to manage your profile and keep in touch with friends.

Xbox Live subscribers also get access to downloadable demos, games, and even movies and television shows through the Xbox Live Marketplace. Game demos and video trailers are usually free to download, but premium content such as Xbox Live arcade games and movies will cost extra. Users can buy these downloads using Xbox Live's Microsoft points currency. Players can purchase Microsoft points with a credit card or with prepaid cards sold at retail. Both Gold and Silver subscribers can access the Xbox Live Marketplace, but Microsoft has in the past given Gold subscribers early access to highly anticipated content such as exclusive game demos.

Microsoft plans to release a significant user interface overhaul, dubbed the New Xbox Experience (NXE), on November 19, 2008. The NXE will upgrade the menu system to improve navigation and to make it easier to add new features.

Xbox 360 Dashboard

The New Xbox Experience user interface update supports customized 3D themes.

NXE will also introduce customizable player avatars similar to Nintendo's Miis for profile personalization, and Xbox Live parties that let friends join together into groups that allow everyone to communicate with each other while they're all doing different things online.

Xbox Live Subscription Comparison

  Xbox Live Silver Xbox Live Gold
Price: Free $49 per year
System Updates: Yes Yes
Gamer Profile: Yes Yes
Friends List: Yes Yes
Text and Voice Messaging: Yes Yes
Xbox Live Marketplace Access: Yes Yes
Exclusive Marketplace Content: No Yes
MMO Multiplayer Access: Yes Yes
Full Multiplayer Access: No Yes
Netflix: No Yes

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