Microsoft has released today as promised an update for Xbox Live that adds Comcast Xfinity, MLB.tv, and HBO Go content to the Xbox 360 console. The Xbox's abundance of content paired with streamlined navigation, centralized search, and Kinect-powered voice and gesture control shows Google TV how it's supposed to be done and scoffs at the much rumored and yet to be seen Apple iTV.
The update today allows Xbox 360 users who also have a Comcast subscription to easily switch back and forth from playing video games to watching Comcast Xfinity programming all within the interface of Xbox Live. There's no longer a need to press the input button on the remote, turn off the console, and turn on another set-top box. Everything gets wrapped together for a streamlined experience.
The addition of HBO Go brings a similar convenience by giving users easy access to the app for streaming premium content through Xbox Live. Other apps that Xbox Live can already access include Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, YouTube, and Vevo. A centralized search feature makes it easy to find what you need by sifting through all the content from all providers at once, be it Comcast or Netflix.
The Xbox-Kinect setup seems to have beat Apple to the living room in providing consumers with an integrated TV and all-around entertainment experience. Apple has long been rumored to be working on an integrated system, dubbed the iTV, that will somehow "magically revolutionize" the way we watch TV as only Apple knows how.
However, getting the rights and distribution deals to lots of premium content has always been critical and very difficult. Both Google TV and Apple TV set-top box efforts have struggled in this area, while the Xbox has steadily continued to expand. For the Apple iTV to successfully deliver a unified entertainment experience it must be able to offer this scale of content.
But it should be noted though that being able to access all the content on Xbox Live does come with a huge premium. Users will have to be subscribed to Comcast Xfinity and HBO at roughly $90 per month, MLB.tv for $25 per month, and Xbox Live Gold membership for $60 a year, totaling about $1,440 per year.