TOP 50 REVIEWERon 23 November 2013
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 )