The Xbox 360 Fall 2010 / Kinect Dashboard update has finally went public.  I was in the Preview for the last couple weeks, and got my hands dirty with all the new features.  Most of the new features are only accessible with the Kinect, which I do not have yet.  So I will just point out a few of the new features that are usable without the Kinect.

The first thing you will notice is the squares on the dashboard.  They no longer are tiled, but just sitting next to one another.  Instead of getting 3.5 squares on my screen at once, now I only get 3, but it does look cleaner.

Go ahead and hit that guide button.  Everything is now white, and a very bright white, especially at night. Most things on the guide have stayed the same.  They moved Quick Launch to the games tab and moved around the ordering of some of the items.  Also the pictures for the wireless controller battery life, and wireless headset battery life have changed.

Next, going into my Xbox, and clicking on your gamertag page, takes you to the usual spot when you can see your achievements.  But now you can also see Account Management and even an Online Safety tab.

The new Dashboard up for this update is ESPN.  If your ISP is listed on the ESPN 3 list, which can be found at http://espn.go.com/espn3/affList, you will be able to access all the sports content for free.  You can watch live games, replay old games, and even pause, rewind, and fast forward live events.  You can follow your favorite team no matter where you live, unless that team is in the NFL.  No NFL games can be viewed on ESPN3.

Up next is the Netflix application.  There was a little graphical update done here, and you can also now search from inside the app, something the PS3 version has had forever.

The game marketplace also got a bit of a graphical overhaul.  Nothing too fancy, just boxes everywhere.  As of this writing they have removed the New Releases section and replaced it with a “Featured” section, which to me makes no sense.

The way you customize your avatar has also been given an upgrade, along with how the avatar looks.  The proportions of the avatar now more closely match that of a real person, so when you play with your avatar in a Kinect game, everything matches up.  They also added new backgrounds for your avatar gamerpic.

I do not have a Zune Pass, but I do not remember this being in the previous dashboard.  So, if you happen to have a Zune Pass, it seems like you can stream radio stations, a la Pandora/ Last FM.

Lastly they added a Kinect viewer, which also works with the Xbox 360 Vision Cam.  This will allow you to video/voice chat with someone else either on the 360, or on a computer with MSN messenger.

There you have it, most of the new updates in the dashboard.  Once I get my hands on a Kinect I will have some more information about the new features it brings to the dashboard.

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