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Xbox One Console - Day One Edition

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #7 in Game Consoles

Posted

Pros: Voice commands, controller, SmartGlass, application snapping, ease of use

Cons: Buggy, lack of software, missing AV features

Pros:
The ability to perform voice commands is by far the best feature on the Xbox one. When you walk into my room and say "Xbox on!" it turns itself on, and can turn the TV and Receiver on as well. Then the Kinect recognizes your face and signs you into your account. When using the "Xbox select.." command, you can navigate the xbox menus without the use of the controller or hand gestures. When playing a game you have the ability to snap applications such as party chat with a simple voice command. With the same feature you are able to add people to the party chat, remove them, and mute the chat, etc. As per the voice commands, if you swear at the ref in FIFA 14, you will be reprimanded by your club. Also keep your potty mouth to yourself when on the field, or the red cards will come flying at you. NBA 2K14 has similar features, BF4 allows you to call in support with voice commands. As for the controller it is a slight improvement over the 360 controller. The analog sticks are comfortable and the redesign is most welcome. Bumpers and triggers are solid, and over all the build quality of the controller is superb. The Operating System interface is really easy to navigate, the layout is basic and makes a lot of sense. It is very hard to get lost in the menus. When signing in to the console by way of Kinect facial recognition it will recognize you in a completely dark room lit up only by the ambient light of the TV screen. The ventilation on the xbox this generation is a huge improvement over last, it runs really cool even when placed in an AV cabinet with front doors. Overall The hardware doesn't really heat up much. I guess Microsoft learned something from the previous generation. The application snap feature is handy, having two applications side by side really works on this console, and it doesn't distract or pull your attention from the gaming or watching a movie. This is especially useful when trying to start a Party Chat while in game. Xbox smart glass is a companion app for both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. It is completely free and works on Windows, iOS, and Android devices. You can use your smartphone or tablet to type in the text fields, when sending text based messages to your friends or entering your credit card information to make purchases. Most of us have smartphones and tablets so this naturally makes sense. This app is also a companion to some games such as Dead Rising 3, it enables extra features and in game content. It's an extension to the users video game experience and adds another level of interaction with the software, in some cases it is easier to type with the smartphone than using the on screen keyboard. Something no one is talking about, perhaps because they don't understand it, is the "server farm" Microsoft has stashed away for it's developers. I'm not talking about the Xbox Live military grade servers, I'm talking about the server that can offload some of the XBOs processing to the cloud. All of the rendering and computing does not need to be done locally anymore, and any non critical computing can be done on the servers and sent back to the system. In my opinion this has a lot of potential, and the systems processing power is no longer limited to the local hardware specs.

Cons:
The Xbox One is not DLNA certified, unlike it's predecessor. This took me by surprise and is kind of anti next-gen for a device that wants to be the media centre hub of the living room and that calls itself next-gen. DLNA streaming is important to me, especially for my music library. One of the crowning features of the 360 was the ability to listen to your music library while playing games. Also, at the moment the games are not there, Dead Rising 3 looks like a 360 game. Forza 5 is full of micro transactions, $59.99 for a game and micro transactions on top of that seems a little excessive. It will take the developers a longer time to get familiar with the XBO dev kits than the PS4 dev kits. The XBO has specialized hardware, like the Kinect, the ESRAM, and the render server farm, whereas the PS4 is esentially an underpowered PC. Xbox 360 users and Xbox One users can not communicate properly over Xbox Live. If you're on the Xbox One you can not receiver voice messages as the XBO does not have this feature. Party Chat is not possible with 360 and XBO users either. The camera is unable to identify my face sometimes and as such it does not sign me in automatically into the system. I particularly noticed this when reclining in a bean bag chair on the floor. Perhaps the Kinect has a hard time recognizing the skeletal structure when in a reclined position. The lack of proper CEC integration is also surprising. The Xbox One uses some form of CEC an IR blaster to control the television and receiver, however this is not true CEC as one can not use the receivers or televisions remote to navigate the xbox menus.

The gesture based navigation needs a lot of work. It is one of the worst features to use on the XBO. I'd say it works properly 50% of the time. The audio is another problem, it cuts out in certain menus and even though the XBO set to PCM 5.1, sometimes the XBO decides to output DTS. Other times the XBO boost the volume by itself and then decides later that it is too loud and turns the volume down. There is no Bitstream option for the audio output either, and only Stereo, 5.1 PCM, 7.1 PCM, and DTS sound output options are available.This does not work, I would like the option to have the receiver do the audio decoding, specifically DTS HD MA or Dolby TrueHD. My home cinema would appreciate that. No 3D Blu-ray support yet either, for a system that is trying to take over the living room this is unacceptable. Despite the critics ramblings about 3D, it is here to stay, and consumers are slowly adopting said technology. There are other small glitches and hiccups when switching between menus and screens too. Sometimes the xbox goes all Ghost in the Machine on me, and starts launching applications and navigating software on it's own... Rise of the machines?

In conclusion this next-gen console launch was and is very underwhelming. The underwhelming part is mostly due to the fact that both Microsoft and Sony released beta products into the wild. But if I were to decide between the new Xbox or the new PlayStation, I'd pick the Xbox. Voice commands, gesture based browsing, a stunning 1080p camera, smart glass, server farm, skype and other app within app integration, superior controller, and system that shows promise providing the software comes out of Beta soon. There are a lot of bugs in the software, and a lot of features that need tweaking and revision, this is true for both Sony and Microsoft alike. But if the 360 was an indication of how MS functions, is that they listen to their community, and that their gaming system and it's software will evolve over time.

Features: Xbox Live offers an online gaming service that can not be rivaled by anyone, not PC, not Nintendo, not even Sony. This is really where the Xbox family shines, their online services. The social aspect of Xbox Live with users provides a nice new way of interacting with your friends list. The Xbox One is loaded with features as far as the social aspect is concerned, and with more on the way. Skype and Skydrive Onedrive integration is a welcome addition to the gaming system. The Kinect has a powerful high resolution camera which can be used for Skype calls or to sign in to an account via facial recognition. With an HDMI input one can run their PVR or Cable box through the Xbox One, and even control the PVR box, Television, and Receiver, via the Kinects powerful IR blaster. The voice commands are very comprehensive and give the user a new way of navigating the system, snapping applications, searching, adding users to game parties, changing channels, and even turning on and off entire AV systems. The hand gestures fail on the Xbox One for the most part. Despite the Kinect being able to recognize a skeletal structure, it is unable to distinguish between the predefined gestures and it quickly becomes a very frustrating experience.

Value: For $499 the value is somewhat underwhelming at the moment. The system lacks basic functionality and features that it's predecessor was capable of. The lack of of backwards compatibility is understandable, however the inability to communicate with users on the Xbox 360 via voice chat or voice messages is unacceptable. The lack of 3D Blu-ray support and DLNA server connectivity is also missing. For a device that aims to be the center of the living room it has a lot of growing up to do. Right now it is hardware lacking the software. But queue the incoming monthly updates.

Design: Physically it looks like a large VCR like box with a thick cable running to the Kinect 2 sensor which is also quite large, and a fairly sizable power adapter to boot. The system may be large but it does provide great ventilation and even in enclosed spaces it runs very cool, so one can understand why they opted for this design choice. The core system design is somewhat reminiscent of the NES, perhaps the Xbox gaming devision was feeling somewhat nostalgic during the design process. The controller is very comfortable and somewhat ergonomic, it is a pleasure to hold and hours of gaming should not be a problem with it. Microsoft opted to use WiFi direct for the communications technology in the controller, and the added speed and bandwidth should be welcome to any hardcore gamer. Also since all headset voice communications go through the controller, WiFi direct has more than enough bandwidth to provide clear and crisp voice communication.

The OS has a tile like structure, similar to what the Xbox 360 and Windows 8 Start menu offers. Each page or pane of the OS can be quickly switched by using the left and right bumper buttons of the controller. On the very left pane (Pins) are all the snapped, or rather pinned user applications. The center or main OS pane (Home) has a large central tile which shows the game or application that is currently being run. When the user is playing a game or running an application, pressing the Xbox button on the controller will bring them to this (Home) view. While navigating the OS, if there is no running application in teh background, the main tile shows an image of the last game or application that was run. Under and to the right of this main home tile are persistent applications. Some of these include the disc drive app, last app launched, installed Games&Apps, and other important apps. To the left of the main home tile, is the profile tile which allows access to the users account, friends list, followers, etc. Pressing the menu/options button while having the profile tile highlighted on the main pane will bring up a menu and one can gain access to the settings from here. To the right of this grouped collection of tiles on the Home pane are 3 random advertisements.
The right pane (Store), houses the Games, Apps, Television, Movies and Music that the Xbox Live service provides. All Game and Xbox Market place offerings and purchases can be made viewed here.

Video Quality: Video quality on the Blu-ray player has improved with the recent Xbox One update, the quality is great but not excellent. As for the video quality in games, most are currently either running 1080p @ 30 frames per second or 720p @ 60 frames per second. To be honest the 1080 vs 720 argument is a little tired. The Xbox One sports a superior video scaler that does a stand up job of upscaling the 720p resolution to 1080p resolution. The difference between the two is not noticeable unless you put it under a microscope. The detail and quality level in games such as Forza 5 and Ryse: Sone of Rome really shows of the Xbox One's capabilities, capabilities which can be achieved provided the developers utilize the systems resources properly.

Remote: Voice commands allow a user to turn the system on, off, and navigate menus with out the use of a physical control device. If voice commands are not your thing the Kinect has an IR receiver and any IR universal remote can be used.

Audio Quality: Your options are DTS, PCM 5.1, PCM 7.1, or Stereo. For a device that plays back Blu-ray not having a Bit Stream option is questionable. Other than the lack of Bit Stream the sound reproduction is excellent.

Posted

Pros: Voice feedback, when working, has a truly futuristic feel. Good game selection. Snap applications. Well designed controller. Xbox Live. Kinect

Cons: Voice feedback sometimes requires multiple attempts. No DLNA full support. No 3d blu ray playback. Gesture controls

When the Xbox One was first announced, there seemed to be an overwhelming negative response. The announcement seemed to focus entirely on the One's ability to be a media player and incorporate live tv functionality, and didn't spend much time talking about games. In addition, the console was forced to have an internet connection every 24 hours for DRM checks, as well as a requirement that all games would be installed on the hard drive for DRM purchases, effectively eliminating the ability to share, sell, and buy used games on the console. Another issue that was a cause for concern was that Microsoft decided to set a requirement of the Kinect sensor being connected for the console to operate. Soon after the announcement was made, due to the feedback, the DRM and Kinect policies, though some thought that the damage might be done.

I have spent 3 months with the console now, and I can safely say that the talk about Xbox One as a flop, may have been a bit premature. The first thing you will notice about the new Xbox is the Kinect. Unlike the Xbox 360, where the Kinect sensor was an add-on accessory, the Sensor is now included with every Xbox. Because of this, the interface of the new Xbox is very Kinect oriented. For everything you can do with the controller, there is a way to do it using voice commands, and it is usually quicker to do so. After telling the Xbox what kind of TV and AVR you have, the Xbox can do a variety of controls such as turning your equipment on and off and changing the volume. I rarely find myself reaching for the controller and instead find it easier to just say "Xbox Pause", or whatever the control may be. The Kinect also uses the camera to perform gesture controls, but at the moment, they seem more like an afterthought. Hopefully future updates will make this feature more useful. The Kinect, at set-up listens to your audio system and does a surprisingly good job at filtering the sound out to hear your voice commands, but the system isn't without its flaws. I have noticed, if there is a conversation going on in the room at any more than a modest volume, the Xbox has a hard time picking up what I am saying. This is somewhat surprising to me, given its accuracy in other situations. I can easily pause music while 30 feet away in the kitchen around the corner and it picks up my commands with no problem. When the voice commands work, the effect is also science fiction like, but when it fails to pick up your voice, it completely breaks the spell.


As far as the game selection goes at launch, in my opinion, the Xbox was clearly the winner between the two next-gen systems of 2013. Forza 5 is a beautifully detailed racing game, that add's features like Drivatar, that lets you compete with your friends, even if they are not online at the moment. Dead rising 3 was a highly entertaining game, that, while not as detailed as some of the other games, made up for it in sheer scale. The amount of zombies rendered within the game truly shows off the power of the hardware. Ryse: Son of Rome is, in my opinion, the best looking game from the next gen consoles so far. It has a short, and somewhat repetitive campaign, but the game is absolutely gorgeous and it's gladiator mode is hours of fun, with several arena choices and plenty of upgrades available to keep gamers interested.

The Xbox One, from the start positioned itself as a media hub for the living room. The console features an HDMI-In connection in the back that allows you to connect a set top box for live tv pass-through. The live tv performs very well in my experience, and adds voice controls for commands such as changing channels. The Kinect controls all of your devices by a built in IR blaster as has a port in the back of the console for an IR extender if needed. The One also has a feature called OneGuide, which basically acts as a tv guide for all of your media. It shows you your current live tv guide just as your set top box does, but also lets you create channels for apps, so you can quickly jump into your favorite tv show on Netflix, or access a photo album you have saved on OneDrive. This is also the first Xbox to feature a Blu Ray drive, which is a necessity to consider the Xbox as an all in one media device as Microsoft intended. The Blu Ray player performs well from a visual standpoint. Audio is where Microsoft needs to make it's improvements. The audio options out of the box for surround sound are 5.1 uncompressed (PCM), 7.1 uncompressed (PCM), and DTS. The Xbox currently does not support Dolby Digital at launch. Also, the optical port only supports stereo sound at the moment, and does not support 3rd party headsets at launch. This has all been addressed as problems that will be fixed in an update, but it is slightly annoying that we have to wait.


Another feature of the Xbox One, that Microsoft has expanded on from the 360, is Smartglass. Smartglass is an app that you download on your phone or tablet that gives you another way to control your Xbox One. It lets you control things like Audio, or play or pause a show. On a tablet, it also lets you control the OneGuide which is a nice addition. It also lets you view your friends list, achievements, and game clips, as well as letting you send messages when you are away from your Xbox. Another feature it has, but hasn't been used much so far is a second screen experience for games. Dead Rising made the most use out of this feature and gave you options like an in game map, as well as calling in backup, and gaining additional missions. Tom Clancy's: The Division has already showcased a second screen experience using connect, that will allow gamers to pilot drones during battle to spot enemies and call in attacks which will earn you additional achievements.


Some things I love about the Xbox One. The snap feature is great and gets a lot of use in my household. When playing a game, I can snap tv on the side, or snap the music player to control my music. When I am watching a movie and want to look up an actors name, I can snap internet explorer on the side of the screen and browse to IMDB. The only problem I have with it right now is that you have to have the music app snapped to listen to music while playing games. This is a problem because it makes your game smaller to share the screen with the snap app. Another thing I love is the facial recognition. It is very cool to just sit down on the couch and be signed in to Xbox Live. After a minute or so set up at friends houses, you can also be signed in to their consoles as well when you go to their house. The controller is a big plus for me as well. The Xbox 360 controller was my favorite controller design of all time, and the One controller took an already great design and made it better. The buttons are slightly closer together which makes button smashing sessions of Killer Instinct much more comfortable. The battery pack has also been removed from the back, which should help those of us with bigger hands hold the controller more comfortably. The main change to the controller is the triggers. The triggers now have rumble packs in them to provide haptic feedback during games. A few examples of how its used are for example in Forza, when you skid out of control, or rev the engine, your triggers vibrate to give you a more immersive experience, or in Dead Rising 3, the triggers vibrate as you pull the trigger once you are low on ammo to let you know without even having to look at the screen.

Things I hope to see fixed. The lack of 3d Blu Rays, which limits it as an all in one device for people who enjoy the format as well as it's limitations with audio. The Xbox also lacks full DLNA support, and instead uses Microsoft's Play To format and currently cannot accept media off of external hard drives. The party system has a lot of problems. For instance, one time I was in a party playing NBA 2K14 and my friends were all playing Battlefield. I decided to change games to Dead Rising and for no reason, the Xbox moved all my friends to dead rising and quit their game. To be fair, Microsoft has already stated that this will be patched in March, so it will not be a problem for long. A small annoyance is a lack of voice control while in a blu ray menu, which requires use of the controller.

Overall, The Xbox One is a great machine that performs well as a game console, as well as a media player. Some features are missing that would make a truly must buy, but that is generally the case for game consoles as they are first released. This console has a lot of potential and given the long life cycle of game consoles, and the great games slated for the next few years, the next generation of gaming is off to a great start.

Posted

Pros: Strong graphics, fast system, excellent features, good multitasking

Cons: Price, lack of file browser/external file/storage support

Many people love having HTPC's, or for those of you who are unclear of the term: Home Theatre PC's/Personal Computers. HTPC's come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but this one in particular we're going to talk about today is a little bit special. Why is it a bit special? Because most people don't get the idea of a gaming console being a good HTPC. In this specific case, the Xbox One. With excellent potential for streaming and web browsing, multi-channel audio playback, an HDMI input, and other various features... This box is certainly a good contender for the HTPC market, even though it is primarily a gaming console. And this is where the name, Xbox ONE, stems from. A simple, easy to use, all in one device. Let's dive in and see, if the box can live up to it's name.

Things to like about the box, or that is does well:
The box is VERY, very easy to set up for first time use. After unpacking, all you need is a few cables that are included and you're ready to go. You rest the box where you wish, plug it it's power cord, hook up the optional (and personally recommended) Kinect system, and obviously your video output cable to your TV. You have the option of using digital optical audio out also, in case you prefer to use an external Digital to Analog converter.

When first powering on the box, you go through some simple steps. Such as registration, account log in (using a previous Xbox Live/Microsoft "Hotmail/Windows Live" account) or create a new one. Set up your home network either via a fast, fully integrated WiFi chip inside the console, or through a network RJ-45 connector for wired LAN. After doing so you're presented with a visually appealing, and rather bare, main screen. Here you'll find an array of varied, multi-colored "blocks" similar to what you see in Windows 8, if you're familiar with the operating system. Though arguably a hassle with regular computers and laptops, this layout works very well when using the included Xbox control, hand gestures via the Kinect, or even voice commands via Kinect. This screen is layed out to provide quick access to your profile, friends, and other regarding various information. Also, recently played games and recently used apps. On the right side of this section, you'll find a space to "snap" apps, which we'll get back to in a bit, view your currently accessible/registered/installed games and apps, as well as information as to which disc media is currently occupying the disc drive within the console.

Now, with any game console, as you'd expect, you have great gaming. The hardware in the device is pretty potent, and is able to output games in 1080p, possibly at 120Hz for 3D content. Which is great. A great bonus to this, is the ability to as aforementioned, be used as an HTPC. The console can not only play games, but fully browse the web using full desktop websites. With many media streaming apps such as YouTube (which now uses the full site's search, and plays "desktop only" videos, too!), Hulu+, Netflix, and many other "Day 1" apps for media. This gives you tons of content to watch all waiting right away at either the press of a button, a voice command, or a simple hand gesture/motion. The video quality itself is usually quite high, or the highest it could allow, thanks to a faster processor able to download the stream quicker, and a faster, non-external, wireless chip. By default, the system automatically outputs in stereo, but can be set to Dolby modes, 5.1, and even 7.1 audio over HDMI. The actual screen colors can be calibrated within the systems menu, as well as changing color space and black levels. The controller is by default wireless, and can generally hold a charge for a few weeks with a single pair of typical double-A batteries. For about $20 more, you can purchase the rechargable battery pack, which comes with a rechargable battery and a cable to charge the controller with from the console. In a recent update (2/15/2014) they added the ability to see the level/status of battery life within the controller on the main/home screen, which is also very convenient. Along with this update, and back to the topic of settings & system control, you now will also be able to view how much of the total system memory is used up. The console is marketed as having a 500GB hard drive. After the actual-disk size, and OS space requirements, I believe it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 410GB of actual useable storage space, for games, and apps.

Games and apps will always be readily available provided the user has an internet connection, meaning no need to wait inline at game stores! The market place is easy to use, and divided into categories for Music, Movies, Games, and Apps. You can search by genres under each category, and even used advanced searching.

These apps I mentioned before are great, but they can also be snapped (IE, such as apps in Windows 8 can be snapped) to the side of the screen when playing a game, or using another app. Making for easy multi-tasking. For example, you could be listening to your playlist or favorite song on Youtube, and snap in Internet Explorer, to browse Facebook and chat with friends. To make chatting easier, the console has two rear USB ports, and one side USB port, allowing for use of multiple devices. Such as say charging a controller while using the keyboard to chat on social media sites with those friends. (I've been using the extremely cheap, $20, Logitech K360 wireless keyboard. At first, the keyboard was not recognized. But after leaving in the wireless receiver for the keyboard and doing a hard-restart of the console, it has been working without flaw since.) Snapping and transition between apps is generally very smooth, and stutterless, thanks to an advanced 8-core CPU paired with 8GB of available memory for the system to utilize. This also means certain "heavier" applications, such as say Skype, or multi-tasking while gaming, play over very smoothly, also. The system powerful enough to take a full 1080p input signal, and scale it down into a snapped window, while playing back video games (such as Forza Motorsport 5) in 1080p at 60 frames per second.

The console also features the ability to use a built-in system DVR (though only on games, without recording player in-game audio) by a default time of the previous 30 seconds from saying "Xbox Record That," to a whole five minutes prior too. All at the press of a button or two, which is pretty impressive that this itself doesn't bog down the system. These videos can then be editted, strung together, or add voice/video recording through the Kinect camera in the Upload and Upload Studio apps. Videos can be accessed on a full PC later on, from your (free) Skye Drive account paired with your Hotmail/Windows Live e-mail account.

The input method I keep mentioned is through an app called "TV" on the console, which comes included in all consoles. It utilizes an HDMI (1.4a) input port on the back of the device. Now, it's main purpose is to be used and paired with an HDMI CEC capable set top box. As the consoles name denotes, Xbox ONE, it is meant to be the bridge to all your devices, including TV. With the systems (rather large list of) remote codes to control TV's, set top boxes, and receivers, it does it's job at integrating television quite well. Most set top boxes will allow the user to voice-command a specific channel, or even search through an on screen channel guide. This input can be used for other devices too, though, just without remote function. Such as inputting another media player, a computer, or even a game console. If you're a gamer, but also looking for an HTPC, this device definitely checks off some of the most sought-out/needed "check boxes." So let's move on to what it CAN'T do, or what it might not do so great.

With all the systems pro, there definitely are some downs to it. So here we go:
It seems general consensus (though my personal opinion differs) that most people do NOT like the design/exterior appearance of the box. They say it seems to blah or bland. This is because it is meant to be understated. It's meant to blend in with your decives, and not draw attention from the important stuff: what's on screen.

Though you CAN browse the internet, there are some things missing sadly. There is no file browser, not even a limited one. So you will not be able to save & download images or files. Which in turns means not all web pages/applications work, specifically those requiring Java and MOST requiring flash. Some flash pages will work, such as YouTube in browser, or very basic flash items. Which this is where it may be a deal breaker for certain HTPC buyers. A lot of buyer want a device that can store media and songs and movies. In theory (though not as of yet, I believe) you will be able to link an external drive to the console for media playback, such as songs, movies, and pictures. But as of yet, they have yet to release such items.

With all of the systems ability to multi-task, as great as it is, will leave headroom to allocated resource power to multi-tasking, and fast app switching. Some power-users/gamers will be a bit dissappointed in that you can't toggle the systems ability to let go of "reserve resources" and have greater power, or more frames per second, in games. Although to Microsoft's defense, I've owned the console since day one, and they continually release updates that make the system load lower, and reduce the amount of resources needed and allocated to the UI and other "reserve."

An internet connection is DEFINITELY recommended to use the console. When you first power on the device, it does NOT come standard with the ability to playback audio CD's OR Blu-Ray discs. But, two simple little downloads in the app store that should take no more than 60 seconds each will rectify this. (Really Microsoft? Why didn't you just include them if they were "Day 1" apps?)

The console noise is... A debateable con. I have yet to hear the console fan spin up when playing games, or mutlitasking. Spin up LOUDLY, that is. The disc drive is rather quite, too. But, when keeping the system set to go into "sleep" mode, so to say (which I do recommend for the access to walk in the room and say "Xbox: On" to turn the console, and connected devices on as well as change start up time from an agonizing ~60-120 seconds down to about 5-15 seconds), the fan will remain on. A whisper quiet, drull little whir. But audible in a room with no sound/conversation. If you're a light sleeper, and keep the console in your bed room, this will probably make falling asleep at night more tedious. It shouldn't wake someone who is sleeping, but it might bother some.

Not all apps are able to be snapped. Which is kind of a bummer! Most of the apps you want to be snapped, like Internet Explorer, Xbox Music, TV, even Netlfix, can be snapped. But certain ones would definitely be great to have snapped. Such as say Skype, or YouTube. So you could browse the Internet in the larger screen, while havng your communication/playback on the smaller section of the screen.

Snapping itself, though generally smooth and simple, can be a bit annoying. The system does NOT allow the user to either change the size of the two snapped items, as in make one bigger and one smaller (at least not without completely switching to one app, then snapping the other if possible) and it does not let the user choose which side of the screen the app is snapped to.

Though the system boasts a 500GB hard drive, after the "market loss" as some call it, and OS spacial requirements, the user is left with 410 or so GB of storage. Which sounds ample, but considering most games occupy anywhere between 5GB-15, or even 30 in some very rare cases, users may find themselves wishing to have more space quite frequently. Now, the drive within the console is a standard 2.5" SATA hard drive. But replacing/"upgrading" this drive voids warranty. I suspect future models will boast bigger drives, or Microsoft will allow ship-in-drive upgrades, if they pony up the resources to perfectly clone console drives.

Lastly, the party chat & game session joing can be a bit... Confusing, at first. The part chat, which is now an app, can always be run in the background. But you have to make sure you turn on party chat when joining parties, as it does not automatically do so. Also, inviting players is no longer as simple as it was on the Xbox 360, but now requires you to use the (sometimes buggy, depending on game developer) in-game invite menu. And sometimes even needing them to be in your Xbox Live party, too. Though voice chat quality is significantly increased, including Kinect chat, also.


Verdict/Over-all: A debateable 6/10.

With it's current abilities, it does fair well as a media device. Apps such as YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Instant, etc. allow streaming of high quality video. Audio support for Dolby sound modes and 7.1 audio make for an immersive experience, whether it be gaming OR home theatre purposes. Blu-ray playback (albeit with the Blu-Ray player needing to be downloaded), and great support to control cable boxes, televisions, and many AVR's. Though sadly, with the lack of any kind of file browser, it currently can't do everything, or many things, most home theatre PC users would like. Now, you could go and say that the device should get 0/10 in terms of HTPC usage. But I give it a higher rating. Reasons being it is still capable for some, as aforementioned, and all it's other bonuses. And the potential is there. It has the potential to be a simple, fast, easy, all-in-one media solution including HTPC. But until they allow the resources/needs of a full dedicated PC, it won't be that way. It seems to me that Microsoft is slowly, but surely, step by step heading towards that direction. Of making the console an HTPC/gaming all-in-one livingroom media device. But until then, it can't really compete. That's not to say it's not an excellent console & machine, as I do without a doubt love mine. But time will tell. As for the device as a gaming console itself, with added features such as Kinect, I'd give it a rating of 4/5 stars. But in the aspect of it being JUST an HTPC, it does need some work to be a viable option.

(This was created using the Xbox One console. My computer itself isn't currently working, but once it is, I plan on adding reviews and screen shots for not just menus, but individual apps that are released for the console as well. So keep an eye out on this page/review, as it'll change and have more useful information time to time!)

Posted

Pros: All-In-One Experience

Cons: Still finding myself using Xbox 360 for some things

When I purchased my Xbox One console, I knew that it would be a (slightly) limited experience with it being a brand new console. The same thing happened with my Xbox 360! Except, nobody expected the Xbox 360 to update its dashboard firmware twice, and have apps for Netflix, Hulu, Redbox, Internet Explorer, etc. all in 8 years. For being what it was, it got the job done! The Xbox One, for unknown reasons, is getting negative reviews because the Xbox 360 has features that the Xbox One doesn't. Some go as far as saying that you'd think the technology & app choices would already be available on it when it released 4 months ago. Most people don't even know what the Xbox 360 even looked like when it released in November 2005. When I got my Xbox One, I was also very excited with the fact that it supported blu-ray movies! The Xbox One really is a wonderful console, and I believe it has a lot of potential in the next year.

This is a console that, despite the lack of games & features (for now), I would still recommend it to friends and family to purchase! In the long run, you will be saving money using it, compared to the Xbox 360. Not to mention Skype being available on a large screen!

Posted

Pros: More powerful than previous generation, great controller

Cons: Feels rushed, not enough focus on games and gamers

Features: Snapping between apps can be useful, particularly between games and TV. Blu Ray player is a welcome addition. Some new features underwhelm, particularly for a gamer's perspective. 3/5

Value: $100 extra for Kinect's gimmicks make the value more questionable. Less bang for your buck compared to previous generations (relative to their times) also diminishes the value. Lack of great exclusives means this iteration of the Xbox has yet to prove its worth. 2/5

Video Quality: Good for the most part, but it is difficult to ignore the fact that early titles have yet to support full HD resolution. Probably will improve, but this review is here and now. 3/5

Remote: The new controller is great. Kinect adds some features of questionable worth. A standard remote is coming, which highlights Kinect's underwhelming performance. 5/5 because the thing that really matters (as a gamer) is the controller.

Audio Quality: Good, but the lack of Dolby Digital support is difficult to excuse. Sure, it's coming, but this speaks volumes (pun intended) about Microsoft's lack of preparedness for this generation, despite the long console cycle. 3/5

There was never a doubt that I would be buying an Xbox One. After all I was an early adopter of the original Xbox platform and a huge fan of the Xbox 360. I was a founding member of Xbox Live and have owned hundreds of Xbox and Xbox 360 games. So a next generation Xbox console? Of course I would be on board. But how did the Xbox One turn out? I've never felt so schizophrenic about a game console. But let's start with the basics.

Setup was as straightforward as you'd expect from a modern console. An immediate update is required, but didn't take an unreasonable amount of time to download and install. Connected by HDMI to my 46" Samsung HDTV and another HDMI cable connected the cable box to my Xbox.

Once you get into actual games, it's quite nice to experience a boost in graphics, accompanied by (for the most part) faster load times. But so far there's been nothing particularly next-gen about the experience other than those two things. And the step forward in graphics is tempered by the step back in audio mentioned above. It is required that you install each game, which is not a big deal for me because I've always done that on my Xbox 360 in favor of quieter operation from the hard drive. Most games take 5-10 minutes to install before they are playable, which is acceptable for me, but some less patient gamers will find this frustrating.

Something the Xbox One has going for it is the new controller. The new Xbox One controller feels great and boasts a lot of little improvements. The slightly taller analog sticks are smooth and responsive, it finally has a solid d-pad, the trigger-rumble shows promise, and it's altogether a great improvement without straying too far from what made the Xbox 360 controller so successful. Build quality is fantastic and it's also slightly smaller, which is appreciated.

Blu Ray playback is a nice addition. My BD discs look great and having this integrated into the console frees up another precious HDMI port. The only drawback is control. Your only options for now are Kinect and the Xbox controller. For now I prefer the controller for reasons mentioned later in this review, but look forward to the announced remote control coming for the Xbox One.

Overall what the Xbox One brings is characterized mainly by promise and some disappointment, neither of which make it a particularly strong buy today if you're on the fence. The Xbox One's user interface is almost shockingly simple. The problem is that at times it feels half-baked. Simple functions like party chat, managing friends, and Dolby surround are either poorly implemented or entirely missing (at the time of this review). It's really surprising given the long development cycle between generations. The Xbox One interface is sparse almost to a fault. Sure, there's lots of promise, but too much promise and not enough in the here and now.

Then there's the much touted Kinect. It's blatantly obvious that those of us who bought an Xbox One paid $100 more to have Kinect, whether we wanted it or not. This wouldn't be a problem if Microsoft had managed to prove Kinect's value as an indispensable gaming component. They have not, so Kinect's value comes down to Kinect as a system-enhancing control device. Unfortunately, voice control with Kinect is slow to respond (relative to a remote control) and too often requires multiple attempts. And Kinect is downright unintelligent. If you don't know exactly what to say, then Kinect is especially frustrating. You must follow a very limited list of voice commands and speak them exactly as written. This makes Kinect look downright embryonic when compared to a voice interface like Apple's Siri or Google's voice search, which are relatively intelligent and conversational. Kinect comes across as obtuse and one-dimensional, even when it does understand you. Again, I have no doubt that there is promise here, but promise is really all that Kinect has at this point.

Even if Kinect was intelligent and responsive, the fact is that the hand is quicker than the eye and a damn sight quicker than the spoken word. That's why remote controls are still very relevant. When you want to play, pause, and switch between fast-forward speeds, a remote control will be far quicker and easier than a voice-controlled system. Kinect as a controller is flawed in its very concept. Furthermore, as a motion-sensing controller it is awkward and weird. Making large, imprecise movements with your hands and arms is a poor substitute for pressing a button with your finger.

I'm not going to go into great detail about the Xbox One's TV functionality, but suffice to say that it offers little more than your DVR by itself. About the best thing about it is that it frees up an HDMI port on your TV. In can be nice to quickly switch between games and TV, but it turns out I don't want to run my Xbox every time I want to watch TV, so I ended up rigging the DVR to connect to both the Xbox and the TV directly.

And what about games? I have written a lot already without having mentioned games yet and this is my biggest problem with the Xbox One. As a die-hard Xbox gamer since day one, my faith is waning in Microsoft's Xbox as a gamer's platform. It started the year Microsoft announced the original Kinect and has since been punctuated by E3 after E3 that tunnel-focused on Kinect and multi-media, while leaving gamers scratching their heads at the lack of exclusive gaming content. Titanfall looks promising, Rise was pretty fun, and Dead Rising 3 was pretty good, but there's simply not enough in the pipeline to restore my faith in Xbox as a gaming brand. Titanfall aside, there are no announced exclusive new IPs to rival past greats like Fable, Halo, Crackdown, Gears of War, Star Wars KOTOR, Jade Empire, Left 4 Dead, and even Alan Wake and Shadow Complex. In this respect, I'm not sure the promise is even there for the Xbox One platform. Exclusives are expensive and risky and Microsoft seems much more interested in being an entertainment hub and imitating the success of the Wii with gimmicky motion controls. I'm sure there's more coming, but doubt that it will ever rival the attention the Playstation platform gets as a gamer-focused console that isn't afraid to take risks on new IPs.

As for the guts of this Xbox, I'd put it in the same category as the PS4. Neither are particularly impressive in their specs. Clearly neither company wanted to create quite the loss-leaders that previous generations gave us and while I can't fully fault them for that, I think they could have compromised a bit more in favor of the gamer. Both consoles are weaker than their predecessors were, relative to their time of course. The Xbox One is slightly less powerful even than the PS4, although I suspect that as developers learn to work with the fast ESDRAM, that gap will narrow. For now, the fact that Xbox One gamers are getting third-party titles outputting lower resolution (before scaling) than their PS4 counterparts is very annoying.

Finally, the console itself is huge and (to me) kind of ugly. In the grand scheme of things, these things don't matter nearly as much to me as things like games and interface, but there's something to be said for aesthetics and build quality. Hopefully the Xbox One's internals prove much more solid than my first four Xbox 360 consoles, may they rest in peace.

Am I being hard on the Xbox One? Yes. But I feel like Microsoft has taken my darling Xbox brand and for the past several years diminished it at every turn in favor of things gamers don't really care about. I'm sure the interface will improve in time, but I'm reviewing the console that sits before me right now. I'm sure there will be some great exclusives, but I very much doubt that we will see exclusives great enough to rival those of Xboxes past or Playstations current. Hopefully MS will prove me wrong at the next E3, but my faith is simply shaken and I rather expect to see some suit talk about avatars, facial recognition, ESPN5, and lots of other things that will leave core gamers cold.

Don't get me wrong. It isn't all gloom and doom. Like I said, there's lots of promise here and I'm certain things will improve. But the ball is in Microsoft's court to garner renewed faith in the Xbox brand as a gaming brand first and foremost. Microsoft is undoubtedly not united at the corporate level in their support of Xbox and I think many of their decisions around the brand reflect a disjointed vision. Alas, I'm still a fan though and hope to be for a long time.

Posted

Pros: Powerful, quiet, innovative, great controller, good software

Cons: Doesn't yet meet full potential, needs more games, current games somewhat lackluster

I skipped the last generation of gaming consoles and mostly played on PC. I decided to jump back into the console realm with the Xbox one because a bunch of my friends were getting one. My experience on the Xbox One has been mixed but overall I am optimistic about the future of the console.

Hardware: The console itself is somewhat large, but has very good cooling and makes little noise. That's a tradeoff I'm willing to make. The controller is very ergonomic and has worked well for me so far. I am a fan of the current controller as compared to the old one.

Software: The Xbox One comes with a Windows-8 styled interface. It launched with a bunch of apps like Amazon instant video, Internet Explorer, Netflix, etc. I have used most of the apps and they all seem to work well. I am also reassured that as time goes on, software patches and incremental updates will improved the experience. Multitasking works pretty well but isn't perfect. The Kinect has worked well so far and is pretty fun and useful. It's nice to be able to control my TV without needing to find the remote, which my son constantly is moving around.

Games: I have only played 4 games so far: Madden, COD: Ghosts, Killer Instict, and Dead Rising 3. Of these I have played COD the most. I think the amount of software is lacking, but this is to be expected for any new console. I am already pre-ordered on Titanfall and look forward to some true next-gen games coming up soon. Already I have seen COD get significant upgrades through software patches, so this trend will probably continue.

Overall, I'm happy with my purchase but I do think it could be better in many ways. I do think that as the software is updated and more games come out, it will truely be a "Next Gen" experience.
Xbox One Console - Day One Edition
Description:

Details:
DetailValue
BindingVideo Game
BrandMicrosoft
FeatureXbox One - Day One Console includes a limited edition controller, token code to unlock Day One achievement, premium packaging, and decal. Kinect is included with every Xbox One. Completely reengineered to be more precise, responsive and intuitive with unparalleled voice, vision and motion technology The console is driven by a powerful combination of CPU, GPU and 8GB of RAM, governed by an innovative OS architecture, to deliver power, speed and agility Only Xbox One unleashes the vast and scalable power of the cloud for your games, entertainment and apps with Xbox Live With Xbox One, you can quickly jump from TV to movies to music to a game
LabelMicrosoft
ManufacturerMicrosoft
Package Height1 inches
Package Length5 inches
Package Weight1 pounds
Package Width5 inches
PackageQuantity1
ProductGroupVideo Games
ProductTypeNameVIDEO_GAME_HARDWARE
PublisherMicrosoft
StudioMicrosoft
TitleXbox One Console - Day One Edition
CatalogNumberList - CatalogNumberListElementA20130721
ModelA20130721
PlatformXbox One
ReleaseDate2013-11-30
OperatingSystemXbox One
HardwarePlatformXbox One
EditionDay One
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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