When Microsoft unveiled its next generation console, it announced that the Xbox One would be less like the Xbox 360 and more of an all-in-one machine that combines the features of a computer, game console and a DVR. However, will it be the center of people’s living rooms, or will the Xbox One have too many things to handle? The answer is somewhere between the two. The Xbox One is a jack-of-all trades and a master of none.
The Xbox One, which looks most reminiscent of an old VCR, comes with a power brick and an HDMI port for both input from a cable box or other game console, and an HDMI output to the television. It also sports three USB ports, two in the back and one on the side, along with digital audio and Ethernet ports as well as a special port for the Kinect 2.0.
The Kinect 2.0, packaged with each Xbox One, is the successor to the original Kinect. Its features, like facial recognition for signing in to Xbox Live and voice commands, are great — when they work. The voice commands are rigid with only special commands. For example, the voice command for “Xbox: Play Ryse” is actually “Xbox: Play Ryse: Son of Rome,” which can be confusing to use. Using the voice commands can be hit or miss with other sounds in the room, but the Kinect audio commands are great. The hand controls are also good, but can be very hard to work with, more so than with the voice commands. While using a hand to move the screen, it can sometimes not register or will read a backwards motion intended to just move the hand back.
Its other controller is the Xbox One controller, which improved the Xbox 360 controller in almost every way. These changes were for the best. The triggers have motors built in that rumble when, for example, a gun is shot or a car accelerates. The analog sticks are the same style but with comfortable grips around them. The D-Pad and battery pack are better integrated into the controller. The battery life is also improved because of the Kinect feature that saves battery life when the controller is not in use. These differences, though, are the only differences in the controller, with it maintaining its shape and configuration. The headset jack has also changed. The Kinect can support the Xbox’s party chat, although not as well as a regular headset, like the one included.
Most the time that is not in use is when people are using the television features. When watching the TV through the Xbox One, the picture and sound can be slightly distorted, although using the Kinect as a remote control can be nice to work with. Recorded shows and onDemand doesn’t work with it, however. Although other media apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus, which require Xbox Live Gold to use, work great, external storage is not supported. This is bad because the hard drive cannot be removed, meaning space is limited for any media.
The user interface on the Xbox One looks similar to the Windows 8 interface, which is great for a PC, but can be confusing with a controller and hand controls, which encourages the Kinect commands. Also similar to the PC, Xbox One sports a Snap feature that allows for two apps to be alongside each other. So, users can watch Netflix or search the web while playing games or doing anything else. This works seemlessly, especially with the Skype app. In conjunction with the Kinect, the Skype feature is amazing, which could allow for video calls from the couch within the camera. The Xbox Live also has a feature that resembles Twitter with friends that allow for followers, although the lack of social media features is noticeable.
On the video game side of the front, the games look great, but not the best when compared other consoles or a PC. Kinect games are fine when handled by Microsoft, but the third party developers cannot make it work. The games range in quality, with the uncontrollable Fighter Within to the beautiful and almost flawless Forza Motorsport 5.
Overall, the Xbox One attempts a lot. It performs mostly well in the scheme of things, but it doesn’t master everything that it does. The HDMI input port can work great with television, but doesn’t work with all of the features. Its apps and user interface can be great but hard to navigate. Its Kinect can be easy and fun to work with when it actually works. Its controller is amazing as well as some of the games, but not everything is stellar and the box itself isn’t a great thing to look at. The Xbox One, therefore, deserves a score of 81 out of 100 percent.
The Xbox One is currently out with launch games like “Ryse: Son of Rome” and “Dead Rising 3” and sells for $499.