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Better and more useful than I ever expected Edit
by chimpuat Combined Rating: 4.0
I wasn't going to buy an Xbox One until later this year. So I told myself. There weren't very many titles upon release, I'm one of those pesky 'cord cutters' the cable and satellite companies...
Pros Cons
  • great graphics, HDMI TV-IN, improved Kinect functionality, improved 'multi-tasking'
  • some little quirks got through, and the lack of backwards compatibility on new-gen consoles is disappointing
I wasn't going to buy an Xbox One until later this year. So I told myself. There weren't very many titles upon release, I'm one of those pesky 'cord cutters' the cable and satellite companies love to hate, so I thought the inclusion of a TV-IN was a gimmick and I'd never get any use out of it. Plus, it was proper expensive. $500 for a console? I was convinced that I wouldn't pull the trigger until maybe Titanfall came out, or maybe not even until Elder Scrolls Online.

And then, I went out the day after Christmas to my local Best Buy, and picked one up.

Out of the box, it's beautiful. It's shiny. It sort of oozes coolness into my living room. I got it all set up, and proceeded to explore what, exactly, I was going to do with this thing in hopes of avoiding what I was sure was going to be buyer's remorse.

I always used my PS3 as my blu-ray player. To be honest, when I got the Xbox One, I didn't even know it played blu-ray's. Yes. I am really THAT stupid.

I saw reviews online where people had plugged other consoles into the HDMI input, so I plugged my PS3 in. And, to my delightful surprise, it worked. A friend who was a day one owner told me he had his 360 plugged into his, which seemed like black magic, or some sort of myth. Could this even WORK?

I plugged my 360 in, and yes. It works. And, it works rather well. So well, in fact, that once I discovered that I could play blu-ray's (don't judge me), I moved my 'good' PS3 to the bedroom, and no longer have a Sony presence in my living room.

I installed all the apps, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, CW. While at first I thought of Kinect voice commands as yet another gimmick, I have found myself using them almost exclusively to navigate between apps, to make selections and control functions within apps, and to turn the console off and on.

And that's when the first 'quirk' reared its ugly head.

My setup consists of a 62" Mitsubishi RPTV (720P) and a Denon 2113 receiver. You can set up the One to turn on your other components, even your TV and receiver. It turns my receiver on when I walk in the room and say "Xbox On", and it tried really, really hard to turn my TV on. BUT...when the receiver comes on, there is a delay as it 'boots up'. When you use a universal remote like a Harmony, you can manually set delays in the component chain to account for this 'bootup' time. The Xbox One, however, only has about 2 settings of delay, neither of which is sufficient to get a signal to my TV.

Even so, I like that I can control my whole system through kinect commands, if I so desire. Provided I manually turn the TV on first when I walk in the room. A minor quirk. #1 on my wishlist for Microsoft: make user selectable delays in the component command chain.

I didn't understand how my 360 could be on, with me logged into Live, while my Xbox One had me logged into Live...until I realized that they are actually separate sets of Live servers, and never the twain shall meet. Yes. Don't judge me. I should have known, or guessed that. You can see people on your friends list on their 360s, doing their little 360 things, and you can send them text messages, friend requests, or what have you. But that's about it. You can't rate users, and oddly, you can't really customize your avatar. Not that avatar customization is THAT important to me, it just seemed strange that all the options and accessories available on the 360 are missing from the One.

I quickly found myself having loads of fun playing games on my 360, through my One, and still having the ability to bounce between apps. The apps are great, by the way. I also discovered the FX channel app, which filled a hole in my TV viewing lineup, so that was a really nice addition. Speaking of which, I like how the CW app lets me pin individual shows to my home page. It's just these little touches that really make me appreciate the work that went into translating these 360 standards into Xbox One editions.

I haven't even begun to discuss the games, have I?

And that's what is so insidious about the Xbox One. It is a game console that does SO many other things....and WELL...that you tend to forget from time to time that it's there to play games.

I bought Need for Speed Rivals, Dead Rising, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and Assassin's Creed IV (which I had previously played on the 360). Without going into a review for each game, let me say that they are all worthy titles, with pro's and con's, and they all look and play fabulously. The only noteworthy game element that I want to discuss is the integration with the Xbox One app on my android smartphone. It's like smart glass on steroids. Not only can I control the One through it, but I was blown away by the app's 'companion feature' for Dead Rising. When my in-game helper would call me or send me messages, they actually arrived on my phone (via the app). I could access the map and do other tasks via the app, and it wasn't just a gimmick. It was actually really neat, and fairly useful. It added to the immersion, and increase the game's "fun factor". I hope other games in the future take advantage of the companion feature in a similar fashion.

It was while I was playing Dead Rising that I discovered annoying quirk #2.

The controller died while I was playing, the game paused, and told me to reconnect. I tried. I failed. My batteries had died, after I don't know how many hours. Not a big deal, I can understand that happening. What I really could NOT understand was...why didn't they include a battery life indicator for the controller, or otherwise WARN you that it's about to fail. Nope. It just dies. No warning. So, #2 on the MS wishlist: controller battery life indicator

I've had my Xbox One for about 6 weeks now, and not once have I regretted my purchase decision. I heard my friends teasing me about paying to be a beta tester, I heard horror stories that accompany every console launch, but I have had no problems or issues at all with my Xbox One. If I am home, it is on. It never falters or fails, and always does what I ask of it. The IE browser seems to work better than the one on the 360, too. Everything, essentially, seems to work better. It is, overall, a genuine improvement over its predecessor, and I fully and completely encourage others to buy one if they think they would have even the LEAST bit interest in one. It will surprise you.

One last relatively funny anecdote. You can add family members to your One, so I added my 9yr old daughter. I have Kinect log-in enabled, so when I turn it on, it knows it's me. I had it set so it would know when she walked in the room and log her in, as well. It seems to get accustomed to seeing you in certain places (I always sit in the same place). My daughter set hers up while sitting on the couch. All was well. Then, one day (after she had gone back to her mother's house), my One said hi to her, as if she had walked in the room. I chalked it up to new console weirdness, logged her out, and thought nothing else of it.

And, then a day or so later, it said hi to her again when she wasn't there. Genuinely a little freaked, and convinced I had bought a lemon, I looked over on the couch and saw my Beagle sitting there staring at me. He had jumped up on the couch and sat down, and the Xbox One had assumed that was my daughter.

By the way, when I told her about it a couple of days later, that my shiny new console mistook a dog for her, she was none too amused.

So, until I become the sort of person that can keep dogs off furniture, her Kinect log-in is disabled. But, it was still pretty funny.

I guess the moral of the story is, I'm pleasantly surprised by how much I get out of this console. I didn't expect it. I expected the worst. I am completely and pleasantly surprised by how much enjoyment I get out of everything it can do, and look forward to the future.
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