Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Apple Fan, but when it comes to video game consoles I prefer the Xbox360 and Wii to the Playstation 3. Since I don’t have much time to play video games I’ve found myself recently using the Xbox360 as a Media port for my digital life, and I love it.
It wasn’t always this way. Previously I found little use for the media compatibility of the Xbox360 and it often sat idle under my television waiting for the next time I found a few minutes for NCAA Football. Microsoft changed this when they released their New Xbox Experience.
The New Xbox Experience
Microsoft’s software updates to the Xbox360 made a number of visual adjustments but the added feature I found of most use was the ability to stream Netflix “Watch Now” rentals to the Xbox360. I simply added movies to my que from my online account and when I logged into the Xbox360 they were waiting there for me to play instantly.
The first few weeks after the New Xbox Experience went live I found myself watching a number of my favorite movies that I didn’t have in my video collection as well as showing my son classic TV series like The Incredible Hulk.
Connect360 For Additional Media
The more I used the Xbox360 for movie purposes the more I enjoyed it. I finally downloaded the latest copy of Connect360, a Nullriver software that lets you connect your Mac to your Xbox360 over the network.
Your Xbox 360 is capable of playing back your music and videos and viewing your digital photos. With Connect360, your Mac’s ready to stream to your television.
Connect360 automatically indexes your iTunes and iPhoto libraries and shares them to your Xbox 360. You can then use the Xbox 360 Dashboard to browse and play your media, organized in the exact same way that it is on your Mac.
Connect360 was the final ingredient to make the Xbox360 great. It allows you to easily connect and select the media folders you’d prefer to stream media from.
After selecting the folders where I store my music, pictures, and movies I was watching my digital collection on my 42 inch HDTV through my Xbox360 and Connect360. Unfortunately, Connect360 does not support the streaming of video purchased from the iTunes Store.
Do I Need an AppleTV
Besides the lack of ability to play digital videos purchased from iTunes the Xbox360 handles almost all my digital media needs. It lets me play my DVD collection, something the AppleTV does not. I can watch most my digital media stored on my Apple Computers. And Finally, I can stream rented movies for a small monthly subscription fee from Netflix.
The AppleTV has a lot of potential, in fact I would love to eventually replace the Xbox360 with an AppleTV. But first, Apple needs to increase their offerings.
AppleTV needs to be able to play DVDs or Blu-Ray disks. Another option would be iTunes adding the ability to Rip your movies to add them to Digital format. Additionally, a subscription rental options is ideal. The more Blockbuster and Netflix add to their streaming library the more pressure Apple will face to make their rentals subscription based also. I also hope that AppleTV will allow for playing more media formats than the current AppleTV settings.
While AppleTV has a number of strengths the Xbox360’s current digital offering makes it extremely difficult for me to consider owning an AppleTV myself. Everything I really need from a Media Center portal is available through Xbox360 and Connect360.
I’ll be using the Xbox360 until Apple enhances the AppleTV offering.
Note: A free trial of Connect360 is available from the Nullriver Software website.