This is an in depth product review for Microsoft's newest games console, the Xbox One. I purchased the Day One edition, but the overwhelming majority of this review will be relevant to all Xbox Ones. Where there are comparisons to be made, they will be against the Xbox 360 Slim (the black one). I realise many people reading this will be hoping for a direct user comparison between the Xbox One and the PS4. Unfortunately I don't own a PS4, and indeed never owned a PS3, so for a Microsoft vs Sony review, you'll have to look elsewhere. I'm sure this review will get the mandatory negative votes from Playstation owners, thinking that I am just another Xbox 'fanboy'. I am not. Not that I should have to justify my reason for purchasing, but I will. In the past I have always leant slightly toward Microsoft in the games console world for two main reasons. 1- the people I play online with own an Xbox, and so I would be lonely if I bought a Playstation. 2- The main connection between you and the console is the controller. I have always massively preferred the Xbox controller as to me, it just 'feels' better. With that out the way, let's get on to the main chunk of the review...
***AESTHETICS AND ACCESSORIES***
It's beautiful. Simple.
Whilst I can understand others saying it's just a box, lacking any personality, I disagree. I see it as an attractive, minimalistic, function orientated device Yes, it's larger than the 360 - but that will only be an issue if space is limited. Yes, it's rather box like - but I still prefer the look of it to my 360. Personal preference I guess.
Accessories of note included in my Day One edition are:
- Chat headset
This is comfortable enough for a thin plastic headset. I can't really complain as it was free. It gets the job done. I just hope they will bring out an Xbox One wireless headset soon. (If you have an old headset, it won't work with the Xbox One, not for at least a few months anyway, if ever).
- HDMI cable
Surprisingly good quality and length.
- Code to download free game
None of us like typing in those ridiculously long codes. Well, now you don't have to. This comes with a QR code that you simply hold up in front of the Kinect sensor, and within seconds it's all done. Very impressive.
- Commemorative controller with batteries
The differences between this and a standard controller - this has a chrome D-pad, and "Day One 2013" written on it. (More about the controller later).
- Kinect sensor
Very impressive, but again, more about this later.
***EASE OF INTIAL SETUP***
From turning on the Xbox One, to actually starting the initial setup was longer than I had hoped. This is due to the mandatory system update of 507MB that every One requires.
Once this was done, the setup process was painless and walked you through the Kinect initialisation as well. This included a few sound tests and verifying that the Kinect can actually see you.
Connecting to my Xbox Live account was as simple as entering my username and password.
Other than the initial 507MB system update, the whole process was as simple as following the steps on the screen.
From the very beginning you can choose your main colour. This will turn a large portion of tiles and menus into whatever shade you choose. At the moment there isn't a massive amount of customisation options, but hopefully things like background colours/pictures etc will come along later. For now it's fairly basic.
I've never used Windows 8. Starting up the Xbox and being greeted with a million squares is a little confusing. What's more confusing is when you try and find what you are used to finding on the 360. I've actually found that it's often easier to just say `Go to Settings', for example, as opposed to hunting its little square down. I'm sure with time this will get easier to work with, but for now, I feel like an old man and am not hugely enjoying the change.
One thing which I'm finding annoying is that as far as I can tell, there is literally nowhere showing you how much battery your controller has. I've read similar things from other reviews, so it's certainly not just me.
On a side note, I liked that when I installed the Netflix app, I didn't have to enter any of my login info, it just knew it all, and signed me in.
As the Xbox controller is the most evolved accessory, I thought it deserved a section all to itself. The D-pad is lowered and loses its border, the thumb-sticks have shrunk ever so slightly and moved closer together, the four main coloured buttons are now a lot easier to read and the battery pack no longer sticks out but instead is flush with the rear of the controller. Another big difference is that the `Start' and `Back' buttons are replaced with nameless pictures. The right picture, or `Menu' acts as a start button when you need it to, but also brings up contextual menus, dependent on where you are in the dashboard or game. The left button is called `View'. This changes the view in certain games, as well as providing more information when it's available, which so far, rarely is.
The main difference in my opinion are the triggers. They are of a completely different design, and much more `moulded to your finger'. They have individual vibrating motors inside them as well, that sounds a little gimmicky, but works a treat. For example, when playing Forza 5, if your right wheels stray onto rumble strips or onto the grass, just the right side (including the right trigger) of the controller will vibrate. You could almost drive without looking at the screen. Almost. The shoulder buttons have changed too. They are now more of a `click', and seem quite a bit harder to press.
The main `Home' button (the big X in the middle that glows) is now further away from the user, meaning accidental presses in-game are a lot less likely, and it works. A single press of this button will take you back to your main page on the dashboard, this works irrelevant of where you are, and does it really well.
For the hardcore competition gamers, you can purchase (with the play and charge kit) a cable that will essentially turn the wireless controller into a wired one.
All in all, the new controller is a welcome evolution from the 360's, and feels great in the hand.
I haven't used this for motion controlled games as of yet, so can only comment on the voice commands.
What's almost worth the £430 price tag alone, is being able to walk into the room and say, "Xbox on", and have the console and your TV automatically turn on. Yes, I'm lazy.
In addition to this, you can also say, "Xbox off", waiting a second and saying, "Yes". This will turn the console off as well as the TV (if you have it set to).
I thought that I would end up using the controller to switch between apps, after seeing some of the YouTube videos illustrating the Kinect's shortfalls. I am however surprised to find that it's a lot easier to be in the middle of a game, and simply say, "Xbox go to settings", or, "Xbox go to friends". This could be because I can't readily picture where these menus would be if I were to return to the main dashboard. Either way, it's quick and handy. I find that by trying too hard to enunciate, Kinect doesn't understand you. I simply talk fairly quietly, like I were conversing with someone sat a couple seats away, and so far it has a 90% success rate, on the first time of asking.
I was upset to learn that you cannot switch between two games that are both paused. You can however switch from a paused game, to any other app - the game will pause itself. Returning to said game is instantaneous, not just quick, but instant - which is very impressive.
For those of you paranoid types, or those who have a lot to hide from the NSA, the One will work just fine without the Kinect plugged in, and you can also tell it to turn off completely with the console. This option obviously removes the functionality of turning it on with your voice.
In the Kinect settings, you can correct any inaccuracies that you may have experienced. You can see what the Kinect sees, in normal picture mode, night vision, and heat vision. You can also tell it exactly where the floor is, which is rather impressive to look at, even if not all that necessary as mine was already correct.
Another handy and clever feature is its ability to immediately recognise you when you walk in front of the console, and sign you in to your own profile. It can also tell who is holding which controller.
The Kinect is a great piece of kit that is massively improved from the previous generation.
I have decided that for this generation, I'm going completely disc-less.
My first download was of Forza 5 which was a whopping 31.76GB of data. After 11 minutes and 13% downloaded, it informed me that I could start playing. After 4hrs 34mins it completed its download. This would have gone quicker if I hadn't been playing online during that time. I am a little annoyed that I'm still paying the exact amount of money for a digital download, as a physical copy. It doesn't cost them anything to mass produce and ship around the world etc, and I'm not getting the option of selling it at a later date. I was hoping for at least a 10% price reduction.
My second download was of Fifa 14. This was a comparatively minuscule 8.7GB. After 12mins and 24% downloaded, it was ready to play. It took a little under an hour to fully download.
These download times and speeds are obviously all relative as you may have faster/slower broadband than I do - but it was just to give a rough idea of how long you have to wait to play.
The actual loading times of games (initial and in-game) seems largely the same as the 360. I'm guessing this is due to the fact that as well as the Xbox's hardware being much improved, the size and graphical weight of games have also increased.
This next generation offering from Microsoft is certainly one large step in the right direction. It's not perfect, but then I don't think anybody expected it to be.
Over the past few months Microsoft have been the butt of many Playstation owners' jokes. Mainly based upon the opinion that this isn't a proper games console as it does too many other things as well. I disagree strongly with this. I think it is certainly a proper next-gen console, and on top of that it is at least part of the way to becoming a properly configured entertainment hub as well. You certainly can't knock Microsoft for taking this daring first step into the mostly unknown and coming out the other end with some failures, but a solid platform nonetheless, that they can build upon in the coming months and years.
Would I recommend this product to a friend? Yes
If I could go back... would I still purchase it? Yes
+ Beautifully minimalistic console
+ HDMI cable
+ Dashboard and UI look good (but are a little confusing to being with)
+ Controller (hugely improved)
+ Being able to turn it on/off with my voice
+ Kinect (pretty much everything about it)
+ Ability to go disc-less
+ Can say, "Xbox on"
- Little annoying length of initial setup/update (not a huge issue)
- You can't see how much battery power your controller has left
- Dashboard and UI can be rather confusing to begin with (give it time though)
(PS : If you've managed to get this far, I applaud you. As a reward, you get an Xbox related laugh - check out my response to someones fairly pointless review, here - http://goo.gl/Vzzbkd )
on 22 November 2013
So I was in bed, the time was 7:45am. I was having a dream about not being able to find my phone (the horror) when - KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK, BARK BARK BARK WOOF WOOF WOOF -
It took me a few seconds to realise that I was no longer looking for my phone. Who could that be? OH YEAH, XBOX ONE!!!!!!
So I jump up, grab my dressing gown, run down the stairs, swear at the dog, open the door with a big smile on my face to be greeted by the most miserable looking S.O.B I've ever seen holding a box. Whatever, he can't kill my buzz, sign for the package, run into the living room, open it up, and there it is in it's black box, just waiting for me to hook it up.
Power cable: in, HDMI cable: in, Kinect sensor: in, ethernet cable: in
Power on.... Why's it taking so long to load? .... AHH it's doing something.... Set up the kinect - Even though the rooms quite dark with it being so early, the brightness is amazing *looking at myself on the screen* - "god I look terrible, no wonder that deliveryman was miserable when he saw me"
Anyway, get the kinect set up, then off I go, sign in with my 360 account, log into facebook to brag a bit, then back to testing out the new console.
So easy to navigate through it, redeem my day one achievement code "Xbox, use a code" - Screen pops up with kinect showing me sitting there again (goddammit)flash the barcode at the camera *achievement unlocked* - YAY. So I start my free Forza 5 download. While that's downloading I had another browse of the menus. Such a great layout, and the kinect picks up my voice really well, even with my high pitched girl voice and strong southern accent. The menus kind of windows 8-ish, some people may not like that, but I do.
The controller is an improvement feel-wise, have to admit not much though, but playing Forza made me realise the improvements, there really is more precise accuracy, that could bee down to the games settings, or a combination of both, but ooh well, it feels better whatever the reason. I won't go into Forza as this is a console review, and a great console at that.
The GPU is clearly far superior to 360's, although nowhere near what my dual 7970's can push out, but nobody would expect that from a console lol. But as consoles go, graphics are amazing, smooth, shading is brilliant, not even thinking about FPS when I'm playing because it just runs so well.
Haven't used the headset so can't comment on that
Will probably update this review in the future. But so far, one very very happy girl :D
I got my xbox one yesterday (the Forza day one edition) and have been playing around with it ever since. I plan to review it for what it is rather than what it is not. Plenty of comparisons exist to other kit out there exist already so I'll look at what works and doesn't with the Xbox itself.
Firstly the product came very well packaged. It's not difficult to get into it and start to unpack and set things up but it's very tidily done and provides good protection for the expensive kit within.
One it was all unpacked then plugging it all in was simple. You need to plug in the power supply, plug in the Kinect (you don't have to do plug this but it's a massive improvement over the previous iteration of Kinect and adds greatly to the experience of the console, plug in the HDMI cable, put batteries in the controller and then press it's home button to fire up the console once switched on.
The controller itself is lovely, it feel solid and very comfortable and has a very nice D-Pad (at last). The one negative is a slightly less comfortable placement of the bumpers. A new feature is haptic feedback providing vibration in the triggers, it has to be played to really get a sense of how well it works in a car game such as Forza, it genuinely adds to the experience.
Set-up does need some time. Initially you will see a green xbox logo: this can take a while so be sure to never switch off the console at this stage, just give it some time and the console will begin the update process. Once the upload begins it will step you through the process of connecting to your network and then downloading and installing the update.
One completed the console powers up. The interface is a Windows 8 style interface and is much tidier than the existing 360 interface. It's also very fast and smooth to navigate. Initially not a lot is installed. You need to download and install the apps you want to use (and there are loads including some essentials such as the Blu Ray player app and CD music player).
There are already some great apps available including a fantastic Xbox Fitness suit which is going to get lots of use for me as I only train at home now due to eye disability meaning I can't go out cycling and the like anymore. This app really shows off how improved Kinect is. You can see what it sees of you at all times and just how accurare and responsive it now is and it works perfectly for this type of app.
Kinect is now deeply integrated into the Xbox experience. You can use it to quickly jump around between apps, games and tv using voice commands (which are not yet 100% but work about 80% of the time for me) and can also use gestures to quickly swipe around the menus and point then pull back to select what you want to do. If Kinect had been like this before I suspect it would have been very well received. I wasn't convinced on it's inclusion but am much happier with it now.
As well as apps of course the console has the added feature of an HDMI in. This allows you to feed an other device with an HDMI out into it but is ideally aimed at TV. This is something I'm really enjoying. I can jump between games and TV with simple commands and it jumps instantly and very smoothly. I can also use the snap feature (which works as advertised) to snap any app I like to the side of my screen whilst I game. As a sports fan this means I can snap a match into the corner of my screen and keep an eye whilst still playing. I can also jump to full screen as and when I want.
Features like this really come into their own when you experience them. It's a genuine evolution of the console concept, integrating it into the centre of your media experience and i'm very impressed with it.
Finally there are the games. Some of my games such as Forza were downloads. Grabbing these was very simple, you show the QR game code to the Kinect (having gone to the store and said "use code") and it instantly recognises it and allows you to download it. Some of these are pretty huge and take a while on my 25 meg connection.
I've also got some Blu Ray games. Somewhat disappointingly these all have to be installed rather than running from disk (I'm guessing this is to do with the speed difference in loading and streaming from a hard drive rather than a much slower Blu Ray). The installs also take quite a while. This is thankfully mitigated by being able to start playing after a small percentage of the install has completed.
At the moment I've tried out Forza, Fifa, Killer Instinct (a free download with one playable character free), Dead Rising, Ryse and the Freely available Kinect sports preview (another game that shows how well the motion works now, even recognising your hand opening and closing). It's a good selection of games, they look lovely and sharp and crisp (as a pc gamer mostly in recent years I appreciate this as the very jaggy visuals of the older consoles was jarring to me these days.. not that it stopped some of the games still being amazing of course). This variety of games is going to keep us busy for some time and it looks like there will be some good stuff coming over the coming years.
Overall I'm very pleased with it. As with all new consoles it's a work in progress. The 360's functionality and look and feel changed massively during it's life as did the quality of the games and good they liked so if this is a starting point its exciting and suggest good things to come.
Well.... I've owned the console since launch day and I have a Day One Edition, it's now time to write my review and share my thoughts.
Unfortunately my console was one of many that was a Day One Disk Cruncher and it took me 2 MONTHS (65 days to be exact) to get a replacement. I could still play download games and since getting a replacement I've played quite a few disk games.
The console itself has a glossy black finish with vents grooved into the right side on top. The left side houses the optical drive where the disks slide into the hole, as opposed to the old 360 disk tray system. On the left side of the console is the USB connection for the inevitable external hard drive upgrade that you'll have to perform after you own more than 15 games due to the paltry 500GB non upgradeable hard drive.
The Xbox One hardware is a very hard one to judge, after all how can you critic a system that's only been on sale a few months? But herein the problems lies, spec for spec in terms of raw processing power the PS4 can do 25% more and every cross platform game released so far has graphically been superior on PS4. Only time will tell with this one as once the game developers are fully accustomed to the XB1 APIs it will be capable of some beautiful games.
The system is not backward compatible with Xbox 360 games and the 'HDMI in' suffers from about 1.5 seconds of input/output lag, meaning if you want to continue playing your Xbox 360 games you're going to have to keep it connected up to your TV.
The new controller is probably the best one Microsoft have ever made. The layout is pretty much the same as the 360's but the new triggers are it's best feature, they give you a level of accuracy that I've never experienced outside of specialised gaming pads. While playing Forza 5 you can accurately change the throttle and brake in 5% graduations, they're big enough and very comfortable to use for hours on end. The two thumb sticks have a grooved rim which adds to their grip and the d-pad is also a huge improvement as its now an actual cross shaped d-pad.
The Xbox One dashboard is now very similar to Windows 8, it takes a little to get accustomed to it but after 30mins you'll be able to navigate it with ease, I still prefer the 360's old dashboard though. The console needs a 9GB Day One patch so the internet is a necessity even to play offline games. You'll also need to download a Blu Ray media player and codecs in order to play BR disks, I also still cannot get my Panasonic BTT-590 5.1 surround sound system working with the XB1 as Microsoft STILL haven't released a 24 bit sound patch...
Kinect is probably the worse thing about the whole package, it's just absolutely useless. Every function that it has in games are just pure gimmicks and it doesn't actually add anything to the experience. In Dead Rising 3 you can bark gibberish that will grab the zombies attention and in Forza 5 you can use head tracking, that is literally it... oh yeah, you can say Xbox on...
My conclusions from the Xbox One are mixed at best, there's the obvious evolutionary advances over the 360 but with that comes the misdirected attempt by Microsoft to turn Xbox from a gaming console into a multimedia centre. Here again is another problem for gamers outside of the US as pretty much all the multimedia features will only work on the US Mainland. At this moment in time the XB1 is not worth £425 and there isn't a single game worth buying the console for. My advise for any prospective customers would be to wait for a price drop and a couple of good games.
The 'One' and only box you'll require under your TV, year right, not unless you want to play your old 360 games....