Okay so I guess the NDA is lifted and I can blab nowSome background:
I've been a Kinect "Beta Tester" (if you can call it that) since early July. I cannot go into the details behind how I acquired it 'early' and that all of my experience has been with Alpha/Beta software - Both systems and game demonstrations - I have yet to go out and purchase the final product of any games but will likely pick up a few either today or tommorow. I am what one would consider a casual-hardcore gamer, I don't really enjoy party games and the games I do enjoy are typically the ones which review extremely well and are consider must-haves. At 32 years of age, I've been gaming a good 25 of those.
I had a Wii, my experience with that system led me to believe that Motion-Controlled gaming was a gimmick used to "wow" people into buying generally crappy games and spend on accessories to enhance their experiences. I have not tried and refuse to try Playstation Move because I have seen nothing to believe that it is anything but a Wii clone with colored balls.
Also, I have twin two-year old (almost 3 year old) kids.Kinect
I am a firm believer in that something isn't "High Tech" unless it seems like it's magic. To me, Kinect is magic
- This is a rare thing for me to say having worked in the tech industry for over 10 years.
What you are getting is essentially a piece of hardware that Microsoft has thrown billions of dollars over decades to create. That may sound like BS to alot of you but if you think about it, Microsoft has thrown money at speech detection, recognition, facial recognition/biometric technologies, etc throughout years and years of research (Speech was in Windows 3.1!) They are some of the leading experts in this field and finally found an viable area where the apply these technologies and "change the game". It is this geek's hope that they expand this technology across a wide variety of entertainment devices. I truly believe the day where we don't have use physical devices (mice, keyboards, remotes, etc) to interact with our devices such as TVs, computers, laptops, phones, etc is just around the corner.Setup
Setup of the device is simple. Plug it in. If you have an old 360, you'll need to use the USB dongle and plug it into the back of the unit. If you have an old 360 and Wireless adapter, you'll need to plug the wireless adapter into that dongle as well. Also with the old 360 you need to plug the Kinect device into a power outlet - New "360S" models have the 'AUX' port which kinect just plugs into, you do not need a seperate power source for it - the 360S will power the device through the AUX port.
The kinect calibration process is just a few steps of allowing the microphone to calibrate to the natural sounds of your home and living room, playing some test tones at normal volume levels, and then doing a quick detection by having you stand and walk through the UI. Then it's ready to go.Speech Recognition
I was amazed at how well this works. I thought this would be the most 'broken' part of the experience however for me it's worked flawlessly. My only gripe with speech is that it doesnt work everywhere it should (e.g. DVD movie playback... rumor has it this is coming soon it was just not ready for prime time)Standing Motion tracking
You can read many comments on how well this works. It works very well in it's current form, and will improve over time. The common gripe you're going to see on internet reviews, etc is that Kinect requires proper space to setup and work right. This is a true statement, you need room to play. playing games is not going to "work right" in your cramped bedroom or your tiny "living room" in a studio apartment. It's not realistic to expect it to do so either - most of the standing games require that you have room to move around - that's the point. While this may be a limitation of the current revision of the hardware, I firmly believe this limitation will be removed over time.Sitting motion tracking
I was surprised at how well this works. Early on in the alpha/beta it was horrific, but it was one of those things that just gradually improved over time. While you shouldnt expect there will be a TON of 'games' that will allow you to play while seated, there will be some. I've used this mostly for navigating the UI, Zune, Video Kinect, etc.Video Kinect
Yeah. It's video - chat that's been available on Messenger for years. and now you can do it in your living room by just launching an app - no need for a PC. and it's AWESOME. The camera tracks you as you move around, auto-zooming and panning to keep you in view - The A/V quality is awesome both going in and out of the XBOX. This is creepy star-trek cool in the sense that you can just bring others into your living room and talk with them. I can't wait to see how this technology eventually gets integrated into online multiplayer games.Zune
It's zune. Kinectified. You can nav the UI with motion controls, or talk to it. You can play/stop/pause/skip, etc with your voice. You still have to buy/rent movies ESPN
Like zune, but sports. I'm not a huge sports fan, so I don't really have much to say hereNetflix
Doesn't work with Kinect and doesn't support 1080p or 5.1 surround. I suspect this app will get an update soon Kinect Adventures (BETA/DEMO)
This was alot of fun being able to control your avatar with your hands, legs and by jumping up and down. It's not a game with a ton of replay value but demonstrations the physical movement detection capabilities of the deviceKinect Sports (BETA/DEMO)
I loved Table Tennis, Bowling and the Javelin. This is going to be a purchase for me.Dance Central (BETA/DEMO)
The current 'Must have' for any kinect owner. I don't dance. This game makes me dance. I find it oddly fun. I just refuse to do it with other people present.Your Shape: Fitness Evolved (BETA/DEMO)
Lots of potential for a fitness game, however the demo I tried just had you punching blocks. I also didnt get the orange sillouette - its very distracting. I understand why they use your physical representation vs your avatar (for heigh/weight/distance calculations) but the color and implementation of this is just weirdJoyride (BETA/DEMO)
This was the least favorite of the demo apps. Why would I stand, and pretend I'm driving a car, and do unnatural movements to perform tricks, etc? I think this game would be better reviewed by a five year oldSmall Children experience
My kids don't play games due to their age - they arent really at the point where they understand the concept well. But we were able to mess around with some of the test / diagnostic applications and they had a blast making their avatars wave and wobble around, etc. Endless entertainment there just watching them and I was amazed that the device could unique identify my small critters out of a room and accurately track them for the most partShould you get one
Depends. If you don't have the room and are looking to play games - NO. If you don't have the room but want the Video Chat, Motion Detection and Speech Recognition capabilities - Maybe - If you have the room - YES. If you have the room and want to have alot of fun with friends/family over - Definately.