GIven that everyone and their mother is discussing the XBox 360 gameplay experience (which is good, but not mind bending), I'll focus on its utility as a media player since I think it's actually going to be a seminal device in the category. The premium box comes with what appears to be 8G of video and other downloads pre-installed on the 20G hard drive, particularly a stunning 6 minute Warren Miller HD trailer, as well as some other HD video content such as a Secrets of the XBox and some Titanic thing which we immediately deleted. You can currently download additional movie trailers (in both 480 and 720) such as Hong Kong and Aeon Flux, game demos, and other video content such as a music video from Audioslave from their Live from Cuba CD. If you haven't consumed music videos in HD with Dolby 5.1, you are missing something fierce - from my side, it beats HD sports. How long until a music video service (with the obligatory preview ads) emerges on this system? Again, I realize you can do all of this on your PC, but it's amazing how different it is when you can easiiy display it in full HD on your TV/home theater system, which is where most people wnat to be entertained.
The only issue we had was that it took almost 30 minutes to download the 6 minute, 300MB, HD music video, which points to some problems with the MS delivery system since our internal network has much more bandwidth than that (has anybody heard of Bit Torrent? Or is this a potential Brightcove play as well?) I have seen mixed signals on the XBox 360 forums about this issue, so I assume it's a regional or temporary issue. But the main issue we had with the media download (trailers, game demos, video, etc.) process was that it appears to be totally single threaded, meaning that you can't switch away from the download screen to do anything else while it downloads, even if it's taking 30 minutes while your LCD screen burns in... It may be that I just missed the secret code to do this in my multiple attempts, but I'd be shocked if a multi-core, XNA-based, mini-supercomputer system can't actually multi-thread or multi-task enough to let you go do other things while media downloads take place in the background. However, as I mentioned earlier, the long tail (had to mention it - go Chris Anderson) possibilities here are endless in the video realm if Microsoft opens it up.