XBOX 360 DASHBOARD GUIDE
A quick guide and overview of the Xbox 360 Dashboard. The Xbox 360 dashboard is like the operating system on your PC – it allows you to modify your console settings and use specific features of the console as well as letting you play your favourite 360 and Xbox games. Most 360 owners will probably be aware of most if not all of these features but hopefully some of you will find parts of it useful.
There are four blades which make up the 360's dashboard – these are Xbox Live, Games, Media and System. I'll take each in turn and explain a little about what they contain.
Xbox Live Blade
The Xbox Live blade contains options relating to your Xbox live account. This section contains your Gamercard, Messages, Friends list and the Xbox Live Marketplace.
Your gamercard shows your reputation and the number of gamerpoints that you have collected from the games you have played. Gamerpoints are awarded in most 360 games and Live arcade games for obtaining certain achievements during the game. Clicking on any of the games you have played here will display the achievements you have been awarded and those that you still need to get. Your reputation rating is based on what other gamers think of you, the more people enjoyed playing with you then the better your reputation. They can also leave negative reputation if you abandon a game early or use foul language or unsporting behaviour during games.
The message area lets you view the messages that have been sent to you from your friends. These may be text, voice or picture messages. Messages will last for 30 days before the system automatically deletes them.
Shows a list of all your friends, starting with those that are currently online and also shows their gamerscore, gamer picture and their status online (ranging from playing a specific game, watching a movie, listening to music or if they are away from their console). There are a range of options available to you when you select a friend. You can join the game they are in if it is an open room, invite them to your game, send them a message, view the games they have played
XBOX LIVE MARKETPLACE
Xbox live marketplace allows you to download additional content to your Xbox 360 such as game demos, game and media video clips, gamercard pictures and additional themes for the Xbox dashboard. Content is added regularly and most demos offer at least one level to be played through fully. Much of the content is free but for full Xbox live arcade games, game content downloads, most themes and pictures you will need to exchange Marketplace points for them. You can also subscribe to the Xbox Live gold service in this section using either a pre-paid card or your credit card. The Gold service allows you to play multiplayer games against other gamers across the globe. You can also redeem your marketplace points here. Subscriptions to the gold service are usually sold in 1 month, 3 months or 12 months subscriptions.
Some games allow the download of additional contents from marketplace such as additional weapons, vehicles, maps, characters. Content is added to the Marketplace almost on a daily basis so it is worth checking every few days for any new demos or content for your favourite games.
Marketplace points allow you to buy some of the additional content from xbox live marketplace. You can order points via Xbox live marketplace using a credit card or purchase a pre-paid card from most game retailers and enter the code on the card to redeem your points.
The games blade contains information relating to the games you have played and can play via your Xbox 360. It also includes some of the downloaded content that you have obtained from Xbox live marketplace such as Live arcade games, demos and trailers.
This section lists all of the achievements you have obtained for all of the games you have played and the total that you could have obtained if you managed to get the full amount from each game.
This just lists all of the games that you have played on your Xbox 360. It displays the game, the number of saves, downloads and achievements relating to the game and the gamerscore you have obtained from the game.
This section contains any of the Live arcade games you have downloaded via Xbox live marketplace – both free demos and full games are included here. There is a wide range of retro arcade classics that can be downloaded such as Frogger, Pac-man, Paperboy, Gauntlet and defender. There is usually a new arcade title release every week. Most games support high definition, contain in game achievements and some also contain some form of multiplayer.
DEMOS AND MORE
The demos section contains all of the demos you have downloaded from Xbox live. These demos allow you to play at least a single offline mission or some form of online play to experience what the final version of the game may be like. You can also play XNA games here.
The media blade allows you to access your music, photographs and video files either from a CD, your home PC or external devices. If you have a PC running windows XP Media Edition you can also extend some of these features in this section.
The Xbox 360 will play any of your audio CD's and also mp3's streamed from your PC or an external device such as an mp3 player or external hard drive. You can also rip music from a CD and store it on your 360's hard drive. Using the music player you can also create your own music playlists. You may also listen to your own music during a game on the 360, just press the guide button on the centre of your control pad and access the music player to select the music you wish to play.
This section allows you to view pictures from your home PC or an external device such as a digital camera or external hard drive. This allows you to view the pictures in a slide show on your television.
This section allows you to view and movie files you have on your 360 hard drive. You can also access .wmv files from your PC using either media connect or playing them in windows media player 11. The Xbox 360 will also play DVD movies and with the additional HD-DVD add on it will play HD-DVD movies. If you download any videos from Xbox marketplace then they will be accessible from here.
This links directly to the Video Marketplace, part of the Xbox marketplace. Here you can download a whole range of video files and tv shows to your Xbox 360.
This allows you to stream content directly from a PC running windows media player. Extended abilities are possible if you are running windows XP media edition. Features include playing music, additional movie files, viewing photographs, pausing live tv and getting movies on demand.
Additional information on connecting your PC and Xbox 360 can be found at http://www.xbox.com/pcsetup
The system blade is like the control panel of your PC, it allows you to modify much of the settings relating to your Xbox 360 such as the Console settings, family settings, Memory, network settings, computers, Xbox Live Vision and initial Setup
Within the console settings there are a number of options that you can modify, these are:
DISPLAY – Modify HDTV settings and screen settings
AUDIO – Modify your audio options such as using 5.1 surround or switching the sound effects on/off
THEMES - Allows you to modify the dashboard appearance and colour schemes
LANGUAGE – Change the language used by the Xbox 360
CLOCK – Allows you to modify the time and date and the format used.
LOCALE – Sets which region the Xbox 360 is being used in
START UP – Allows you to have your console either play the disk inserted on startup or always go to the dashboard first.
AUTO 0FF - Turns off console after 6 hours of inactivity
SCREENSAVER – Enables screensaver to dim screen after 10 minutes of inactivity
REMOTE CONTROL – Set which remote to use on your 360
SYSTEM INFO – Contains the xbox 360's serial number and ID
This section allows you to limit what a child can do on the Xbox 360 – this includes limiting Xbox live activity and preventing them from playing games and movies that have a particular rating
This section allows you to view the memory devices associated with your 360 and the contents of these devices. From here you can copy, delete and move content from the memory devices.
The network settings allows you to set up connections with your home network or PC to allow you to connect to Xbox live and to share content between your home PC. You can test these connections at any time and also edit them or restore them to the default settings.
This allows you to manage the connections between your 360 and your home PC.
XBOX LIVE VISION
The Xbox Live Vision option allows you to change the settings associated with your Xbox Live Vision camera such as the lighting conditions to give you a clearer image when using the camera.
This option allows you to run the initial setup that happens when you use your 360 for the fist time. Running this again may change some of your current settings though so be careful.
It is possible to connect a few external devices to your 360 via the USB slots. Common devices such as Wireless adapters, digital cameras, hard drives and mp3 players can be connected to your 360. With an mp3 player you can connect it and play the music through your 360. I use an external hard drive for all my mp3's and photographs so that I can access them and play them through the 360 – this makes showing high resolution pictures to friends and family much easier than being huddled around a PC monitor. One thing that proves useful is that you can view pictures from a digital camera and at the same time play music from your ipod.
You can also plug in a USB keyboard but this may only be used for text input – you are unable to play any games with it.
The guide button is the big button on the centre of your control pad with the X symbol. This allows for some nice in game features. Using the guide button you can switch the console on, play your own music during games, check to see which friends are online during games and communicate with them or join their game, you can return to the dashboard from the game or shut down the console itself using the button.
You can also change your online status, voice settings, setup a private chat, access the music player and change your theme, vibration settings and notifications using the guide buttons menu.
Sign into Xbox.com using your xbox live e-mail and password and a range of options become available to you.
As well as being able to get the latest news and updates on a whole range or Xbox 360 related topics you are able to view your friends that are online, send and read messages to / from your friends, add new friends and manage your profile.
XBOX LIVE VISION CAMERA
With the Microsoft Xbox Live Vision camera it acts very much in the same way as a webcam, newly added features allow for video chats with your friends, the ability to take a gamerpicture that only your friends can see and some xbox live arcade games like Uno allow you to see yourself and opponents in game.
CLEARING THE xBOX 360'S SYSTEM CACHE
Some gamers have found problems with some games not starting, or stopping during play and locking up on them. If you get the 3 red lights on the system then you'd be better off calling Microsoft's xbox helpline but one thing worth trying first is to clear the systems cache as this has been known to sort some problems gamers have had with certain games. To clear the cache go to the System Blade and select Memory. Highlight the Hard Drive symbol and press Y on your control pad. Then press X, X, Left Bumper, Right Bumper, X, X. You should receive a message saying maintenance will be performed which will clear the systems cache.
The 360 has been known to throw a wobbler from time to time and stop working so here are a list of some possible problems and how they could be resolved.
4 RED SEGMENTS
On the front of your 360 there is a green ring that lights up when you switch it on. If all parts of this turn to red and flash then the console cannot detect the AV cable.
Make sure that you have it connected and if it is connected remove it and try again – if it still doesn't work try another cable then as a last resort contact Microsoft's Xbox support to see about getting your console fixed.
3 RED SEGMENTS
The well known hardware error, this means that some part of the hardware isn't working. The 3 red lights will flash. The problem usually relates to the power supply, overheating or a fault with one of the hardware components. Make sure the power supply is connected properly, that your console is in a well ventilated area and doesn't feel to hot at the back too touch. If you have been playing for a while then unplug and retry when the console has had time to cool down. If it still doesn't work then contact Microsoft's Xbox support to see about getting your console fixed.
2 RED SEGMENTS
This means the console is overheating, again ensure it is in a well ventilated area and switch it off and unplug the console and give it time to cool before trying again.
1 RED SEGMENT
This error relates to a known hardware error and the console should display the error on the screen. They are usually to do with the DVD drive or the hard drive. If it is the hard drive try removing it and ensuring it is connected properly and there is no dust at the connectors.
Again if you are unable to resolve the errors then contact Microsoft's customer support for additional help or to get your console repaired.
Another common problem with some 360's is that the game will freeze after a certain amount of time spent playing or at a certain point in the game.
If you experience a game freezing on you there are a few things to try.
Make sure the disk is clean and scratch free. Restart the console and try again to see if it freezes after a certain time or at the same point in the game. If possible try the game in another console or try another copy of the game in your console to determine if the game or your console is faulty. Try other games in your console to see if they do a similar thing.
Remove and reconnect the hard drive.
The next step would be to contact Microsoft's customer support to see about getting your console repaired.
Hopefully this guide has talked you though most of the important features of the Xbox 360 dashboard and provided you with some helpful information.