This morning, I got the Xbox LIVE preview upgrade which gives me the ability to test out some of the new features coming soon to the Xbox console including Twitter, Facebook, Last.fm and 1080p streaming. Of course, the new 1080p streaming functionality is really the one I have been waiting to get hands on with and after watching a bunch of movies this morning, all I can say is that the quality it truly incredible.
After downloading a Zune video app, you can browse through movies available in 1080p and new to the movie service, you can choose to stream or download the movies. If you select streaming, the Zune app does a quick check of your connection to tell you if you can get the 1080p content and once you purchase the movie, the buffer time before it starts is less than a second. When Microsoft says that the new Zune video technology allows for "instant-on" streaming, they aren't kidding. (Updated: Limelight is delivering the streams)
While Microsoft is not yet giving out a lot of details on how the Zune video technology makes all this possible, they have stated that it only takes about 4MB of bandwidth to be able to get 1080p streaming. You really have to see it to believe it as it really is that good.
Next month, on Wednesday Nov. 19th, Marc Whitten, GM of the Xbox LIVE service will be the keynote presenter at the Streaming Media West show. Marc will be showing off the 1080p streaming technology as well as some other upcoming Xbox LIVE features and will be taking questions from the audience. We'll also have some cool surprises in store for the audience as well, so sign up now to get access to Marc's presentation. It's free to attend with an exhibits only pass if you sign up online before October 30th.