How To Use Your Console For Netflix, ESPN, Hulu Plus, and More!By Mike D'Alonzo - Posted Nov 19, 2010
Of course, the primary function of your gaming console is gaming, but what if you're not the kind of person (gasp!) who can wrap your head around games, or don't have the time (double gasp!) to devote to long-term gaming? Fear not. There are still plenty of good reasons to own a console, even if you're not much of a gamer.
What reasons might those be? Well, it's a good thing I'm here for you, isn't it? I'll be happy to tell you all about it. Why don't we take a look at each of the three major consoles, and some of the things you can do with them that aren't at all about gaming?
Xbox 360 - Microsoft's mega machine has long been at the forefront of non-gaming activity, ushering in a deal with Netflix in 2008 that has since become a cross-platform feature with both PS3 and Wii, as well, and offering itself as a media extender with Windows Media Center right from the very beginning, allowing you to play songs and video as part of a network. Over the past couple of years, however, Xbox has added some feature sets that are unique to the console, and here are a couple of them.
- ESPN - A recent deal with the omnipotent sports network brings over 3,500 live and on-demand events to Xbox Live, including college football and basketball, and soccer. There will be MLB and NBA games, as well. And all of it is served interactively, which makes the experience more than just simply watching a sporting event.
- Last.FM - The music streaming service allows you to make playlists and listen to songs based on the recommendations of their engine. Custom-built radio stations play music that is intended to be based purely on your likes and dislikes.
- Zune - Microsoft's Zune service allows you to download movies and television shows in HD and play them on your Xbox, taking the concept of watching movies on your console to another level entirely, and featuring new releases hot out of the theater or only days after their airdate.
PlayStation 3 - Though media extension isn't native to Sony's PlayStation 3, as it is to Xbox, you can use 3rd party software to get there, and you'll have the added benefit of being able to use your Apple products with it, as well. Oh, and you can use your PS3 to surf the 'net, which is something that 360 can't do. What PS3 also has that no one else does is Blu-Ray, native to the machine. That, in itself, is one fine non-gaming application, but there are others, and Sony is adding more with every passing day.
- Hulu Plus - Hulu is one of the most popular ways to enjoy streaming of current and library television episodes. With a PlayStation Plus account and a subscription to Hulu Plus, you can enjoy all of that content streamed to your PS3 and right to your television. There's a lot of stuff there to enjoy, and it will be available in early 2011.
- VUDU Media Streaming - For those who like the idea of Netflix, but would feel a little more comfortable with a pay-as-you-go system that allows you to pay for HD and SD movies as you decide to watch them, PS3 will be offering VUDU Media Streaming, which will allow you to do just that. Oh, and your PSN membership is all you need to access the service.
- NHL Gamecenter LIVE - You'll notice before, when I was talking about ESPN on the 360, one sport that didn't get mentioned was ice hockey, and that's because Sony has it all on lockdown. Download the NHL Gamecenter LIVE app, and you'll be watching streaming hockey games in no time flat. That is, as long as you live in either the US or Canada.
Nintendo Wii - Right from the very beginning, one of the great things about the Wii was its ability to effortlessly surf the internet. In addition, the News and Weather channels on the Wii provide just that. Though Wii offers fewer options for the non-gamer, there's still some stuff you can do.
- Photo Channel - Of course, you can look at pictures on all of your consoles, but Wii allows you to interact with them in ways that the other two don't. You can draw on them, make them into puzzles, and watch slide shows while listening to MP3s. The Wii supports SD cards from your digital camera, as well.