You just got a new Xbox 360 as a holiday gift. Welcome to an exciting community where you’ll find the hottest games, entertainment services, live events, and much, much more! If you’ve plugged your new console in and played a game with a controller or Kinect, you have a taste of why the Xbox 360 is awesome. But dropping a disc in the drive and playing a game is just one way to enjoy the console. Here’s a top 10 list of other ways you can experience the Xbox 360’s entertainment potential.
1. Connect to Xbox LIVE. In 2013, it’s hard to imagine using a computer that’s not connected to the Internet. Sure, it’s still useful, but it’s a whole different device once you take it online. The same thing is true of your Xbox 360: By itself, it’s an awesome game console and media player. But connect it to Xbox LIVE and you open a new world of possibilities: Not only can you play games with friends, but you download add-ons to extend your favorite games, and so much more. Check out our Xbox LIVE pages for the full scoop on what LIVE offers.
While an Xbox LIVE Gold membership offers the widest variety of features, you can still connect with a free account if you’re not sure yet about signing up for Gold. A free membership will still let you download the latest updates for your games, purchase add-ons and games from Xbox LIVE Marketplace, try demos, and more. To get the full scoop on the differences between membership tiers and then sign up, join LIVE now!
2. Visit the App Store. YouTube, Internet Explorer, NBA Game Time, anime, karaoke, video chat, and even your personal photos from SkyDrive: these are just a few of the service and apps that Xbox LIVE Gold members can do with their Xbox 360 consoles. Just sign on to Xbox LIVE on your Xbox 360 and use the right bumper on your controller to navigate over to Apps to see the full list of available services. Today’s Xbox 360 offers an extensive variety of entertainment apps for kids and adults alike.
3. Try a Bunch of Free Demos. Once you’re connected to Xbox LIVE, you can try demo versions of today’s hottest games before buying. In fact, you can queue demos up to download right here from Xbox.com! Just visit the Game Demos page, select the games you’d like to try, and they’ll download to your Xbox 360 next time you sign on to Xbox LIVE. You’ll also find trial versions available for every Xbox LIVE Arcade game: over 400 as this was written!
4. Customize Your Avatar. There’s an amazing variety of items available to make your avatar truly reflect your personality. You can buy virtual versions of real-life sportswear, turn your avatar into a superhero, or wear duds that show off your favorite game. In fact, you can even customize your Avatar right here on Xbox.com, using our Avatar Editor, or exploring the hundreds of items available in the Game Style and Lifestyle sections of Avatar Marketplace.
5. See What Your Friends Have Been Playing. A great way to discover new games and apps is to see what your friends have been up to. On your Xbox 360, head over to the Social hub and select a friend to see what they’ve been playing. On Xbox.com, you can see the titles most popular among your friends by visiting the Social page and looking at the “Friends’ Activity” section. You can also visit the Friends hub on the Social page and click individual friends to see their recent activity.
6. Browse the Web. In the Apps section of the Xbox Dashboard, you’ll now find the Xbox-optimized version of Internet Explorer. The best web experience you’ll find on your couch, the Xbox 360 version of Internet Explorer has been engineered from the ground up to allow easy browsing with a controller. Whether you want to show off your Facebook photos to the whole family, check out the Xbox.com blog, or just see tomorrow’s weather, the Internet is yours to explore on Xbox 360.
7. Check Out All the Awesome Accessories. There are a wealth of accessories to make your new Xbox even cooler. Pick up an extra controller or three to support up to four players on your Xbox 360, or enhance your racing experience with the Wireless Speed Wheel. The Xbox 360 Wireless Headset with Bluetooth that works with both your Xbox 360 and your cell phone, and the Chatpad is great for heavy text entry. Check out the full lineup of accessories, which includes batteries, chargers, hard drives, and more.
8. Add a Second Screen with SmartGlass. With SmartGlass, you can enhance your Xbox 360 experience by teaming the console with your smartphone, tablet, or Windows 8 PC. Play Forza Horizon and use your tablet as a GPS, throw pitches in Home Run Stars, or queue up songs in Dance Central 3 or Karaoke: These are just a few of the things that SmartGlass lets you do.
9. Chat with a Friend If your friends are on Xbox LIVE, you can save your cellular minutes and avoid long-distance calls. Xbox LIVE gives you a variety of methods for voice- and video-chatting with friends, both in-game and out. Just hit the Guide button on your controller (the big silver one in the center), choose Friends, and select a friend. Then you can invite them to a private chat, a Party chat with other friends, or a Video Kinect video call. (You’ll need either a headset with microphone or a Kinect.)
10. Get a New Game without Leaving Home While you’ll need to visit your favorite local or online retailer to grab the newest Xbox 360 titles on disc, if your Xbox 360 has a hard drive you can purchase the many slightly older titles from Xbox LIVE Marketplace’s Games on Demand section and download them directly to your Xbox 360 without ever leaving home. These games include megahits like Halo Reach, Resident Evil 6 and Borderlands 2, as well as fan-favorite games like the open-world classic Just Cause 2. Plus don’t forget the aforementioned Xbox LIVE Arcade games, like Happy Wars.
Of course, that’s just a quick list to get you started. There’s tons of other awesome things you can do with your Xbox 360. Welcome to Xbox, and we look forward to seeing you on Xbox LIVE!