After a three year long wait, the Xbox 360 will get IPTV service in the United States, thanks to Mediaroom and AT&T Uverse. While a nice addition to the Xbox 360's list of services, it has its limitations.
The Xbox 360 won't necessarily replace your existing set-top box. Consider the console as another "node," as Microsoft reps described it to us at CES, one which will interact and rely upon with your current IPTV box for some of its functions.
That includes DVR writing features. Mediaroom on Xbox 360 won't write to the console's hard drive, instead relying on your PC or current IPTV set-top box for storage. The reason? According to MS reps, it's due in part to the console not being an "always on" device and for heat and hardware reliability issues. But users can still browse content, set programming to record and grab video on demand as they would through the AT&T Uverse or Mediaroom interface.
The current implementation of Mediaroom IPTV on the Xbox wasn't running through the Uverse brand interface, instead using a stock Mediaroom 2.0 GUI. It was pulling content from a fictional provider, ContosoTV, but was accessible through the New Xbox Experience interface. At the show, it was located on the My Xbox row, placement that doesn't appear to be final.
One perk of using Mediaroom on your Xbox 360 is access to the console's guide button, which would appear to let those watching IPTV on the platform stay close to messages, Party chats and, most important, games.
Another, as pointed out by Microsoft reps, is the option to use the Xbox 360 as your set-top box for a second (or third) television that can stream IPTV programming. Ultimately, that can mean less hardware in your house.
While maybe a little more limited than we were hoping, just like AT&T Uverse availability in the U.S., those who do subscribe to AT&T's service will likely find it more of a convenience than a way to whittle down their media center set up.