What’s up everybody!? My name is MalumIncarnum and this review is for Microsoft’s Xbox One next generation console. In a different article I will review the 5 games I own for it but for now the system:
To make it simple it is a beast of a brick. Compared to an Xbox 360 slim the Xbox One is considerably bigger than its predecessor. Laying down it is roughly 34cm long, 8cm high and 26cm deep. Also with the instructions saying not to stand it up on its side.. that is a pretty big use of space. The exhaust fan vent on the top of the system makes putting anything on top of it to save space impossible. The Xbox One console has touch sensitive buttons for eject and power. The back of the system has (from left to right) Power port, HDMI out, Optical Audio Out, HDMI in (for compatible Cable/Satellite boxes), 2 USB 3.0 ports, Kinect Input port, IR out, network port, and a locking port to use a laptop lock on the system to prevent theft. On the left side of the console is another USB 3.0 port, Wireless Sync button as well as an Eject hole to get your disc out in case the rare event of a console defect. The Xbox One has an internal non removable 500GB hard drive, which was disappointing that it cannot be upgraded like the PS4. However there may be a light at the end of the tunnel; Microsoft has not yet confirmed but hinted at external hard drive compatibility. Microsoft gave the Xbox One the much needed gift of Blu-ray. Now all the games will now be in Blu-ray format so not only does the video and sound look great. It also gets rid of the need for multiple discs unlike its predecessor which sometimes took 3 to 4 disc per game. Not to mention Blu-ray is scratch resistant however is vulnerable to top side damage. Meaning if you scratch the pretty artwork off the top of the disc the disc is done for same as the PS3 games. Of course being that the games are on Blu-ray also means that it will play Blu-ray movies, but to my displeasure the Xbox One , like the PS4, does not support 3D Blu-ray playback as of this time. Microsoft said that it may be in a future update but it is one of the least things they currently are bothered with doing. Xbox One does support CD playback features that the PS4 lack for some reason.
The Kinect 2.0 is a little less wide than the first generation Kinect. The Kinect only has one lens this time and after the initial update does not have to be plugged in and the system can be powered down completely. Make no mistake though this new Kinect will definitely rethink the way you play games. It has a built in 1080p HD camera compared to the original Kinect 640×480 resolution. I use Skype a lot with my soon to be wife (we will probably be married by the time this gets posted) and video chat could not look any better. Also the Kinect can recognize people.
I tested this by first setting up my profile using the facial recognition, then I power off the Kinect. After I turned it on I had a friend walk in front of the Kinect and nothing happened. When I immediately came into view of the Kinect my screen flashed “Hi Matthew!” and signed me into Xbox Live. My fiancée now has hers set up and it does the same thing to her. I actually had a really funny experience using the Kinect playing NBA 2K14 where I dunked a ball on a friend and he said the “F” word and the Ref in the game gave him a technical foul. So watch your language kiddies. The Kinect can tell the orientation of your body and how much force is exerted to each muscle group and can even read emotions on your face. In other words if you are really working out or going through the motions. With the Xbox Fitness app (that is free to Gold users until 12/31/14) and the power of Kinect you can achieve true in home fitness. Xbox Fitness had Jillian Michaels, P90X and many more workout programs that will help you achieve the level of fitness that you always wanted.
The Xbox One controller is probably the best controller on the market when it comes to comfort. It is slightly lighter compared to the Xbox 360 controller and has a couple of different buttons. The “Start” and “Back” button are now gone and are replaced with a “View” and “Menu” button. The controller uses 2 AA batteries which seem to last a long time but you can buy a lithium ion rechargeable battery pack and charge cable for $25 which I did. But I’m seeing how long the batteries last before I put the pack in. I purchased the system on November 22nd and had played it every day for at least 3 to 4 hours a night and the charge has not gone down from full power yet. It does help that the controller can also communicate with the Kinect and the Kinect can tell when you are holding the control and playing or if it is sitting there while you are watching a movie and if it isn’t used or cannot see the IR on the controller it will give the controller the command to power off to save on battery charge. The control has a ton of new improvements compared to the Xbox 360 controller. Rumble in the triggers (which make Forza seem more realistic), better D-pad, no bulging battery pack in the back are just a couple of examples. The only downside for me is that it feels like there is less surface area on the top of the thumb sticks with my fingers slipping off all the time, but thanks to $8 gel covers that is not a problem anymore.
Microsoft has made appearance work with functionality. With a similar appearance of Windows 8 on the console I was worried but the interface is easy and stylish. With the ability to “Pin” the programs and apps you use the most to “Pins” tab I can find and organize my games and apps the way I want them make navigating to different menus to find what you want to do a thing of the past.
The features are a big comparison to previous versions I can have more than one app/game/window open and navigate between them and close them out and go back to my game is well appreciated. With the HDMI input I can run my digital cable through the Xbox One and control live TV with my voice instead of having to keep track of a remote. Also, while I’m waiting for a game or a match to load I can watch TV during the loading screen and immediately jump back into the action after the game has loaded. No longer am I stuck waiting at a loading screen when I can be multi-tasking and doing other things. Although I do have to install all my games before I play them which can be up to 40GB each, but I installed all my 360 games that I could any ways so it doesn’t bother me as much as it does others.
Next thing is the noise of the system or lack thereof. The system runs really quietly when the system is running non disc based media (i.e. Netflix, Xbox Video) sometimes I forget that the system is even on and I can barely hear the disc running in the drive when the game disc is installing or playing. Big plus compares to Microsoft’s previous iterations where the system sounded so loud that you felt the need to tell the flight attendants to prepare for takeoff when you ran a disc in the system.
Graphics and Sound:
To do this part of the review I had to borrow a friend’s Forza 5 to really be able to test this (Which I now own). The fact that 80 percent of the games that came out with the Xbox One still run at native 720p but are up scaled to 1080p was the reason.
However, Forza 5 was one of few that actually showed what the Xbox One was capable of… and it did not disappoint. The Xbox One had crisp sound and graphics that you would expect from a next generation system. I would get into more but then I would be reviewing the game not the system. Trust me this system can do 1080p…. they just have to make more games to run in native 1080p. Titanfall that comes out in March will run at 1080p so we can see what a true HD FPS on the Xbox One looks like when the game releases. With the Beta for Titanfall I was able to see what the system can do and so far it is really promising. I cannot wait 2 weeks.