Microsoft Xbox One (Latest Model)- 500 GB Black Console (With Kinect) Reviews
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Microsoft Xbox One (Latest Model)- 500 GB Black Console (With Kinect)

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XBOX ONE: DAY ONE EDITION REVIEW

Nov 24, 2013 (Updated Dec 29, 2013)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Great hardware with PC-quality gaming and Kinect motion sensing/ voice control.

Cons:Needs patching and bug fixes.  Not friendly with TV/set top box.

The Bottom Line: XBOX ONE is a solid addition to the living room. Some tweaks are needed, but I thus far like it more than PS4.


XBOX ONE BUILD QUALITY


The system’s body most resembles a common cable set top box.  The system has a matte finish and a glossy plastic finish combined to almost match the bezel designs of most common HDTV models. It’s a good looking system, but not as  futuristic looking as the XBOX360’s “inhale” concavity. 

The system features a 1.75 GHz 8-core CPU,  8 GB of DDR RAM, and a 500GB Hard Drive.  The system’s connectivity includes HDMI in & HDMI out (for pass through),  TOSLINK digital audio,  and Ethernet.

Unfortunately, all future games will come on Blu Ray disks due to the market not being ready to accept digital downloads as a mainstay.  Blu Ray disks load around 40GB of data per game and because of Blu Ray’s slow access times, games cannot be played directly from the disks. All games must be installed.  Installation takes roughly 1-hour.  Fortunately, the singleplayer of some games loads first, letting you start playing in as few as 10-minutes, while the rest of the game disk loads in the background.   Initial setup also requires a 500MB download.  All too quickly 500GB begins to disappear. 


3 USB 3.0 ports  are built in for future connectivity. I’m guessing a HDD will be offered when people begin to complain about the restrictive 500GB Hard Disk Drive.


If you don’t have an HDTV with HDMI, don’t even bother getting this system.  The system runs in 720p or  1080p – looking fantastic on both my 50” 1080p and my 42” 1080p televisions. Eventually, the system will be updated to run in 4K (2160p), but it’s unlikely the masses will even be able to afford 4K for the next 5 years as they are still catching up to 1080p HDTV. 



CONTROLLER


The new XBOX One controller continues the refinement of the original XBOX’s “s-type” controller.  I prefer the XBOX controller to the PS4 controller due to the asymmetrical placement of the analog sticks. The vast majority of popular titles on both systems are first person shooters and this is a big deal. My large  hands cramp using the dual sticks on the PS3’s controller, but the PS4 controller has also undergone some growth  to make it easier to use.


The new controller doesn’t feel as comfortable to me as the old 360 controller due to a slightly slimmer profile. The shoulder buttons are slightly harder for me to hit and the XBOX-guide button has been moved so high on its peak, I have trouble hitting it instinctively. I also take issue with the new triggers which are so much easier to press that I find myself accidentally quick-scoping during Call of Duty sessions.  
The biggest problem I have with the controller is the sticks which feel a bit too tall – perhaps a bit too loose.  The controller also runs on double-AA batteries.  I feel it would have been smarter for Microsoft to encase rechargeable batteries inside a battery pack and allow the user to buy new battery packs when they wear out.  For a $500 system to not include a play & charge kit is a ripoff.


The controller  includes a new headset. It’s comfortable, but the connector is a bit bulky - and now it’s proprietary  – meaning you can’t use any 2.5mm headphone you want anymore.


The controller boasts new motors behind each trigger, “impulse motors”, which can be programmed to provide directional sensitivity. So far, the vibration from the controller is passable, but not strong enough to impart the feeling of shooting powerful guns. Couple that with AA-batteries and you have shortened lifespan between battery changes.  (Motors run batteries down far quicker).


I personally prefer the 360's controller to the XBONE's. The 360's  feels much better balanced all around. 




KINECT


The redesigned XBOX KINECT is sure to be the system’s most talked about feature – as well as its most polarizing.   Kinect essentially adds $100 to the purchase price of the console – putting it well above the purchase price of the $399 PS4.  So is Kinect worth it?


Kinect can see in the dark, doesn’t require a motor anymore due to a wider field of view, can recognize faces (signing you or anyone sitting next to you into XBOX Live automatically), can track up to 6 people’s movements and can recognize voice commands.  Kinect also has the ability to detect facial expressions, detect heart rate and constantly monitors the position of the controller - even if you've passed it to another player. This way, it can adjust the split-screen of games based on where each player is sitting. 



I derided the original KINECT for being a buggy, rush-to-market. 
This new Kinect is anything but.   Kinect, once set up using the quick installation process can listen for your voice to say “XBOX” and then listen for commands.  You can say “XBOX watch TV” and instantly snap from a game to television.  If you connected your set top box, Kinect can understand more complex commands:  “XBOX watch HBO” or “XBOX watch FOX news”.    This voice control extends to apps and games.  You can command the system to start apps, end apps, play specific games (“XBOX play Forza Motorsport”)  or turn the system off:  “XBOX turn off”.


Inside games, Kinect offers context sensitive operation.  In Battlefield 4, your body motions are tracked continuously.  You can tilt your body left or right – naturally – to have your character tilt his gun left/right around corners.  You can shout commands (need ammo!!!)  to have your character beg for ammo.  Even more impressive is Kinect’s tracking of head movements – allowing you to “look” around the cockpits of vehicles. This is an especially cool when piloting a helicopter or jet, but it's not especially useful since you can't use it to aim your weapon.  Perhaps an eyepiece could be introduced in the future to make that possible so "looking" in first person shooters could be easily done with simple head movements.  


Unfortunately, Kinect has some bugs.  The voice command portion doesn’t work well if you have a surround sound system and play with loud volume. It would be best used while wearing a pair of 5.1 surround sound headphones – so that room noise is at a minimum. Another major problem is that the system responds whenever it hears the words "xbox" - even if you're watching a commercial.  It will enter command prompt mode and will "guess" a command based on background noise. It will then quickly enter a command that you probably didn't want it to.


Then there’s the issue of privacy.  After we recently learned the NSA/CIA/FBI have been collecting our data and storing it indefinitely, you might feel slightly worried about putting an “always on”, camera connected to the internet – that can see in the dark – in front of your daughters bed.


Playstation Network recently had a problem with a user flashing his wife’s bare breasts – and then undressing her on camera.   


I never actually read Orwell’s “1984”,  but I’m sure that he’d be restless in his grave knowing we have cameras everywhere, defacto suspension of the 4th amendment in regards to our data,  a militarized police force, and an out-of-control government blowing people up with drones.  


With Apple collecting fingerprints and cameras recognizing faces, I shouldn’t even have to use a username/password.



Should I be worried about the fact KINECT signed both myself and my girlfriend into XBOX Live while were were in bed?




USER INTERFACE



The XBOX ONE’S user interface looks exactly like Windows 8.


I HATED WINDOWS 8.


The box structure of the menu interface feels like a poor imitation of iOS combined with a poor interpretation of Android OS.
The Windows8/Surface RT design works well for touchscreen monitors, but is completely out of place on a standard TV screen.  It’s also unnecessary if you’ve ever  used the original XBOX 360 “blade interface”.  The blade interface offered simple navigation of features  until Microsoft changed it to include the ridiculous and unnecessary “avatar” characters – which was nothing more than a pale imitation of Nintendo Wii’s (now failing) family oriented sillyness – as well as an excuse for microtransactions  (why should I have to spend  real-life money for “clothes” on a digitized person???)


Yes, I HATE WINDOWS 8, but the style actually works well on the XBOX ONE.  The menu’s are “live” and thanks to a plethora of RAM, many things can be going on in the background while the system silently runs on low power-mode.  


Being able to quickly swap between apps, Live-television and  games – without ending the game – is an awesome way to divide time between watching TV and playing online.  You can actually play games and watch TV (or use an app) simultaneously if you use the *snap* feature.  What truly helps the interface shine is being able to shout a voice command and operate  features after the controller has turned itself off to conserve power.   (I absolutely MUST buy a wired controller)


The XBOX ONE learns your set top box during initial setup.  When you speak a “watch (channel)” command, it knows what number to type to get to that channel.  It can also raise/lower/mute volume.
Unfortunately, the HDMI pass through isn’t what I’d hoped it would be. When the system is offline, the signal from your cable box will not get to your TV.   For people with “regular” crappy cable providers, the XBOX One is awesome. Cable doesn’t offer many extra-features.  I, however, have FIOS and FIOS offers lots of extra features – including its own apps. It is far easier for me to operate my TV with the FIOS remote than with Kinect’s voice commands.  


XBOX ONE even includes ONEGUIDE - a simplistic TV guide replicated in the XBOX' memory so you can see upcoming shows and channel surf. 
Unfortunately, unlike my FIOS box, you can't setup an automatic channel switch for upcoming shows - in the order they air. 


It's also annoying that the XBOX ONE doesn't have a secondary power outlet for your television. If you turn the XBOX OFF, the television has no signal. If you turn the XBOX on, the TV has to be turned on seperately. My TV is plugged to my FIOS box. That means I have to turn on the FIOS box, then the XBOX and then the TV, but the XBOX must always remain on so long as the HDMI pass through is in uise. I want the HDMI pass-through to allow me to watch TV when the system is turned off. 



I decided it was easier to connect my TV directly to my surround sound system, rather than connecting my XBOX ONE  to my surround sound via TOSLINK.  This way, when the XBOX ONE is offline, I don’t lose audio amplification from the TV.






DOWNLOADING APPS and GAMES  works very well. You can either use the controller to go to the store, or you can use voice commands  (“XBOX  buy  Call of Duty: Ghosts”).   Kinect automatically learns your face and connects it to your profile. This access your account and allows you to make purchases.


SMARTGLASS is also supported. I simply logged into iPhone’s appstore, downloaded Smartglass and was able to control my XBOX ONE from my smartphone in less than a minute after signing in with my Hotmail account.   The future of television includes smartphones and tablets (because they’ve run out of ideas on what to sell us that we can actually afford) so it’s nice to have this level of functionality, albeit a bit overwhelming having to manage so many devices.


Smartglass can be used in Battlefield 4 to see a mini-map in real time and even in-game functions.  In other games it can be used to manage in-game resources while offline. It also makes an efficient remote control to navigate the TV and Blu Ray apps.  




WHAT DOES THE XBOX ONE WANT TO BE and AM I HAPPY WITH MY PURCHASE?


Despite the criticisms I’ve leveled, I’m satisfied with this purchase. This system offers a lot of possibilities (including me going to jail if the government records me unconstitutionally).   It’s a fun system, the graphics and sound look fantastic and with a few system updates/ patches it’ll be even better.


The XBOX ONE wants to be your family's entertainment system. It wants to take over your living room. Simply put: the Television integration features aren’t good enough yet due to the lack of a passive HDMI pass through and  the inability for Kinect to understand anything you say when the volume of your TV’s speakers are even half way up.  If they could fix the audio recognition, this system would be awesome.


GRAPHICS and SOUND are equally impressive. Less pop-ins of distant objects, less-texture pop-in, 64 player battles in Battlefield, realistic water effects, realistic building destruction from artillery and C4 are only a few of the ways the system impresses. Sound effects are  appropriately chaotic, loud and generally impress the ears so long as you have good speakers.   The User Interface swiftly moves from screen-to-screen without any hint of chugging and the submenus open up behind games, TV and apps without the need to return to the Home Screen.


AM I IMPRESSED?  ABSOLUTELY. I’m loving my  DAY ONE EDITION XBOX ONE.   I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for it.



BUT WHAT ABOUT PS4???


Don't be fooled by those who claim that the PS4 is a better console. Those allegations come from the fact PS3 uses a more sophisticated RAM (GDDR5 vs. DDR3)  and can run its launch games at a native resolution of 1080p at 60 frames per second.  The XBOX can do that, but will need an update patch. For now, I haven't seen a clear advantage when comparing the 1st or 3rd party launch titles between systems.  


XBOX ONE's media functionality makes it arguably better.  It's a shame Playstation 4's designers didn't give it pass through convergence tech so you could snap back and forth between TV and games.   You'd also need to spend $60 on the Playstation 4's camera to give it functionality similar to KINECT's - which would bring the purchase price to $460.99


In the coming years, it is highly likely most gamers will buy both systems. I already have both systems.  Personally, I don't think comparing these consoles makes any sense because they both do what they do very well. Neither is as powerful as a purpose-built PC like my  Core i7, with GTX 680 and 32GB RAM, but both consoles deliver a solid gaming experience.



READ MY PS4 REVIEW by clicking HERE.


Recommend this product? Yes


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