Pros: TV and gaming at once, voice and hand commands, streaming services, Smart Glass from your phone, amazing graphics
Cons: lack of a true wireless headset, Some issues with Dolby Digital,(no battery display for controller, cumbersome to navigate party chat- updates coming)
Features available with the Xbox One are plentiful.
Value: 5 out of 5
Based on what you get inside the box, the value is worth every penny.
Design: 3 out of 5
Design is large and doesn’t go out of its way to please aesthetically.
Video Quality: 5 out of 5
Video quality is what you would expect from a Blu-ray player. It’s top notch.
Controller: 5 out of 5
The controller is solid and feels great in the hand. It has just the right amount of weight, and your hand wraps around it like a glove.
Audio: 4 out of 5
The audio quality is great, although getting the desired settings is a bit cumbersome.
This review is based on the newest console released by Microsoft, the Xbox One. I based my console purchase on the features available on each of the next generation consoles, the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. I did not solely make my purchase on the gaming experience. I went into the purchase knowing that both consoles had updated RAM, CPU and GPU that could deliver the 1080p 60fps rate that will produce stunning graphics. The Xbox One boasts 8GB DDR3 of RAM where as the PS4 uses a different RAM which is 8GB GDDR5. The CPU is similar with each system using an 8 core with Microsoft's custom CPU to PS4's single-chip x86 AMD "Jaguar" processor. GPU spec's for the Xbox One is 853MHz AMD Radeon GPU w/ 768 shaders and PS4's AMD Radeon graphics core Next engine w/ 1152 shaders. So, what does all that mean you ask? I couldn't tell you to be honest, but from most of what I've read and understand, it all comes down to the games. Most will say the games on the PS4 will look better but after playing both consoles, I can say with confidence you're not going to tell much of a difference. Both consoles come with 500GB of internal storage. With all of that said, can each console deliver the 1080p at 60fps that everyone wants to see out of the two next gen consoles? Well, a lot of that depends on the companies making the games and how well they cater to each systems specs. Time will tell but you have to be optimistic for both systems based on those specs.
The Xbox One comes with an external power block (I'm assuming it's external to reduce the heat build up that would occur if it was inside the Xbox), Kinect (camera and mic), HDMI cable, headset and control (two Duracell Batteries provided, non rechargeable). The media experience they put into this console is hands down the winner and why I went with the Xbox One. Not everyone is sold on this feature as it doesn't cater to his or her needs but for me it is a great experience. In a sense I sometimes catch myself saying, "oh it plays games to." The system is set up to engulf you in the media experience, using your A/V receiver, set-top box, in my case Dish Network. What I mean is, not only can you control watching TV with your voice but also using hand gestures. Yes there is a slight learning curve but tutorials are readily available and if you have any issues trying to remember what voice commands to use all you have to say is, "Xbox". Once you do that the screen dims a bit and everything that you can control using your voice turns green. Whatever is green say it and it will do it. Hand gestures work by moving your hand up toward the screen, it will place a translucent hand on the screen and to select anything on the screen you simply hoover over it and move you entire hand towards it, like you are pushing it. Some other cool features using hand gestures are, making a fist. The on-screen hand mimics this, at this point you can now move your hand left or right essentially sliding pages on the screen left and right. Also to close a screen you place both hands on each side of the screen and make a fist. The screen will mimic your action. The then move you fists together and it will close the current screen you are on. The hand motions are tedious and it does take a bit of a learning curve, but as mentioned above there are tutorials readily available.
In a game hand, gestures worked really well. There is a wave runner game that is free and you act like you are riding it. Once you get past the learning curve (5-6 games later for me) it becomes quite easy and very fun. The Kinect works really well and recognizes every move you make. To be specific, your right hand is the throttle in this game. If you make a fist, you engage the throttle. If you open your hand the wave runner stops, very impressive. A few other features in the game that the Kinect recognizes are front and backwards flips. You go over a ramp and move you upper body forward and you do a front flip, move your body back you do a back flip. You raise your hands you get points for a no-handed jump. I can't wait for future games to utilize the Kinect. Some already are, such as Battlefield 4. I used this feature for a brief time but games need to spend more time on these features to make them viable. I ended up turning that feature off after a short period of time. The screen kept popping up a message on the top of the screen and it was rather annoying.
The set up of the Xbox One is relatively easy if you are simply plugging it into the TV. If you have it set up as I do, (with my set-top box and A/V receiver) then things might get a little tricky for you. My current set up is kind of getting old but if it isn’t broke don't fix I suppose. I have a Denon avr1909 with Polk speakers and an even older Sony LCD projector (which is 1080i) and a Dish Network 722k set-top box. Hey, it all works great and does what I want it to. If you want the most out of your Xbox One then you should run an HDMI cable from your set-top box into the IN port in the back of you Xbox, then run an HDMI cable from the OUT port of you Xbox to your A/V receiver, then an HDMI cable out from your A/V receiver to your TV. Doing it this way you will get all the high-end features of audio along with the highest resolution for picture your TV has to offer. There is no component option on the Xbox One, there is one optical port on the back. There is one major set back with the Xbox and that is the lack of "true pass-through” of the HDMI signal from your set-top box. The Xbox has to be on if you want to watch TV. The only way around this was to use component cables from the back of my Dishnet receiver straight to my TV and an optical cable from the Dishnet receiver to the Denon receiver. Problem solved. You don't need an A/V receiver to achieve this but I wanted to run my optical cable to get Dolby Digital from my Denon receiver. There seems to be the lack of DD (Dolby Digital) as the audio is set to stereo as default. From my understanding it has to do with your set-top box and has nothing to do with audio from games or DVDs. To change this setting go to Settings and under "TV & OneGuide" select troubleshooting then select Surround Sound (BETA). This will supposedly change you set-top box to DD. I can confirm that this did work for my Dishnet receiver.
The Xbox One has a BluRay player and will also play a standard DVD. I still choose to use my PlayStation 3 for BluRay and streaming services, particularly Amazon Prime. The PS3 shows what type of audio is being output where as I'm not sure what the Xbox One is outputting. Also when using Amazon Prime, although I like the set up on the Xbox One better than the PS3, the Xbox doesn't have a section to rent movies where as the PS3 does. Hopefully an update to the app will fix this. There are many apps available that you can download from the store such as, Netflix, Amazon Prime, NFL, ESPN (requires a log-in to confirm your TV service provides this channel), FXNOW (requires a log-in to confirm your TV service provides this channel), Hulu, YouTube, the list goes on. What's cool about YouTube is if you have a compatible smart phone, once you log into your account on the Xbox and launch the app, you can also launch the app on your phone. Then you can control what you see on your TV from you phone and it works quite well, fast with no lag and no load time. There are other features you can use on you smart phone device. There is an app called Xbox One Smart Glass. It basically acts as another remote. This also works quite well and is very impressive.
Another nice feature is the Snap feature. This allows you to watch TV and play a game at the same time. Unfortunately the area were the TV screen comes up is rather small and has a noticeable lag to it. It's cool to have this feature but hopefully in future updates to the console they will give you more options for split screen and fix the lag issues. You can also use voice commands with the Snap feature as well. Lets say you are playing a game and you decide you wanted to check a score on ESPN. All you have to do is say, “Xbox snap TV. Xbox go to ESPN." BAM, there you have it. You don't even need to stop playing your game.
The biggest difference from the previous Xbox 360 controller to the Xbox One is the plug for a headset. It's been updated from the Xbox 360's 2.5mm, to a flat pin type plug. I'm assuming this brings the mute, volume controls straight to your controller when plugged in. It is convenient to have all the buttons right at your fingertips. Another upgrade to the control is the vibration that you feel in the trigger buttons. The controller feels good in the hand and has a nice good quality feel to it. It's not too heavy and it's not to little. I think it accommodates big and little hands. The sound out of the headset is very clear although I wish it could get a little louder. Setting up a party is a bit cumbersome, as you have to navigate through one to many menus to start a party with friends. Good news on that though as Microsoft has already acknowledged user dissatisfaction with its current function and an update is coming out to simplify starting a party.
The user interface resembles Microsoft Windows 8. It is somewhat customizable but will get more customizable in future updates per Microsoft. For now you can "Pin" things you want to have faster access to. You go to whatever app you would like pinned, press the three line button (menu) or as I like to call it "the pancake button", select pin and it will pop up to the far right of the home menu. You can also switch easily between your pinned items, home menu and store by tapping the right and left bumpers. Pretty easy if you ask me.
One of the coolest features, in my opinion, is being able to use voice commands to power on all my devices and also powering off. When I get home and say "Xbox turn on" it powers on my TV, Denon receiver, Dishnet and of course the Xbox and the boot up time is nonexistent. There is no wait at all except of course the time it takes for everything else to turn on. And playing a game is immediate. This is what is so cool about having everything hooked up to your Xbox, you can watch TV immediately, play a game immediately, or do both at the same time. There is no wait whatsoever, I'm not exaggerating a bit.
The game play is pleasing as there is no lag in any campaign that I've played. I haven't had any issues with reboot or freeze up. You get your typical lag and an occasional freeze up when playing Battlefield 4 online but over all is hasn't been anything as bad as last gen consoles. I'm glad to see this has drastically improved. Although the lack of games that are currently available and show the full potential of the graphics, I played Ryse Son of Rome and I had to stop and look at the textures and detail of the cobblestone because I was amazed. The depth of detail, the shine and reflection were the best graphics I've ever seen on a console game. I also played Battlefield 4 and as these graphics are nice they don't hold up to Ryse. The audio in battlefield 4 is superb but this has a lot to do with the system you have.
Based on the features the Xbox One delivers, the choice for me was simple. The Xbox One offers everything a complete entertainment center demands and more. If you enjoy your entertainment center as much as I do and like to the have your set-top box and gaming available at the push of a button then this system is for you. The additional hundred dollars over the PS4 is justified as you get the Kinect, a much better headset and an HDMI cable. Those three items alone make up of the higher price. Happy gaming!