Xbox One Review for Xbox One

Xbox One Review for Xbox One

One Box to Rule Them All?

Well, the Xbox One has finally arrived on store shelves. A capable next-gen console for the masses, the Xbox One is an ambitious system that attempts to integrate all types of media (from games and movies to music and social media) into one convenient package. This focus on all facets of media gives the Xbox One a broad appeal to consumers of all types, something Microsoft was surely shooting for with the design of the console.

During a console launch, it’s easy to focus on the games that are released for a system, instead of what really matters–the system itself. Sure, games are important, but if you’re going to drop $400 to $500 bucks on a console, it should be a console that fits your wants and needs. With that in mind, we will be focusing on the nuts and bolts of the Xbox One.

The first thing you’ll notice about your shiny new console (if you buy one) is that it’s huge. The weighty console itself is bigger than the Xbox 360 and less aesthetically pleasing. It’s not a bad-looking console overall, it’s just big and bland. The vents that cover 75% or so of the console aren’t too noticeable once it’s on the shelf, but this design definitely shows Microsoft’s dedication to the airflow and cooling capacity of the Xbox One. Looking closely through the top console vent, you can see the outline of a huge fan, which will be able to take advantage of the Xbox One’s open-air design as well.

The Xbox One also brings back the dreaded power brick, which is odd, considering the size of the console itself. Although, for the purpose of the console’s functionality and ability to run under high load, I am thankful that the power supply is external, and leaving the extra heat source out of the console case will help the stability of the system in the long run.

Hooking up the console was a snap, taking only a couple of minutes. The initial setup of the system took about as long as expected. I had to adjust the Kinect sound levels and remember my Xbox Live password–nothing out of the ordinary. It did take quite a while for the system to initialize the first time it was powered on, though; but, thankfully, once the opening setup was complete, I was able to hop back into the games and media in a matter of seconds. This was due in large part to the always-on functionality, where the system returns to functioning from a hibernation state instead of being fully powered down. But even “cold” startups got quicker after the initial setup, albeit, nowhere near as fast as using the always-on feature.

Xbox One Screenshot

After successfully navigating your one-time setup, you’ll find a much different dashboard from the Xbox 360. It looks a lot like Windows 8, as I’m sure it was intended to, with its tile structure and ability to pin apps to the home area. The user interface is easily controlled via the new Xbox One controller, SmartGlass interface, or the Kinect.

The Kinect is packaged with every Xbox One, and though it is not required, many features that make the Xbox One feel decidedly next-gen will not function without it. Voice commands and facial recognition are two of these features, and without this interactivity, the Xbox One just feels like a visually updated Xbox 360. I found the voice functions of the newly redesigned Kinect much more responsive than its predecessor, even though there are still a few bugs to work out. A lot of getting to the point of full interactivity with the Kinect is learning the lingo. Sure, this system is smart, but if you don’t use the correct voice commands to make it do what you want, you might as well be talking to a brick wall.

Xbox One Screenshot

For instance, after testing out the screen-in-screen snap feature, it took me a little bit to figure out how to go back to playing my game without being hampered by the annoying side-screen. After a few minutes, a little bit of research, and one death threat later, I figured out that all you need to say to remedy this problem is “Xbox unsnap.” The learning curve for using the Kinect efficiently should be minimal for most users, as long as you have a semi-quiet setting to use your new console in. If not, don’t even bother with voice control. Also, be patient. Say your commands and wait for the system to respond before moving on. The Xbox One is still basically a computer, and computers are built on logic. You won’t help anything and will probably only frustrate yourself to no end by continuing to shout commands at a system that hasn’t even processed your first command.

So, say you and the Kinect don’t get along. Is all lost? No way. SmartGlass is another intuitive way to control your Xbox One without the use of the basic controller. This virtual interface is nothing new and was launched on the Xbox 360, but it seems to work much smoother with the Xbox One.

Xbox One Screenshot

And, of course, you can always go with the standard controller. It has been redesigned, but only slightly. The look and feel of the Xbox 360 controller is still very much present, with a few tweaks. My favorite change to the controller is easily the thumbsticks. Instead of the old rubber thumb-pad that ended up wearing off of the old controller, you have nice-feeling, gripped surfaces that allow the sticks to catch even the slightest movement of your thumbs. The shoulder buttons are a lot larger on the Xbox One controller, which really don’t make much of a difference, except that it just feels different from its predecessor. The handles are as ergonomic as ever, if not more so than any controller that Microsoft has released. However, Microsoft refuses to make its controllers rechargeable out-of-the-box with Lithium-Ion batteries, so if you want a rechargeable one, you will have to drop an extra 20 bucks on a recharge kit. Or, if you’re like me, you will just continue to charge your bank of rechargeable AA’s for the foreseeable future, and forego this altogether.

But nothing else matters more about the control functionality than this–how it feels playing a game. I am happy to report that Microsoft has pulled it off again: The Xbox One controller is every bit as comfortable and intuitive as its older brother. The familiarity, coupled with minor tweaks, is a winning combination, and this is the most refined controller to date.

So, here’s the big question–should you buy it? Well, I can say without hesitation that I experienced no true problems with the system out of the box. Updates ran fast, games let me play as they loaded and updated, and setup was as easy as it’s ever been. That being said, this console is still in its infancy and has miles to grow before it reaches anything near its full potential. The Xbox One is capable of stunning visuals and does have some interesting launch titles, such as Dead Rising 3 , Ryse , and Forza 5 , but none of these pull enough weight to make the Xbox One a must purchase right now. While I can’t say that, as a gamer, you can’t live without an Xbox One, I can certainly say that if you want one, there’s no reason not to buy it. The system functions as it should; the feature set will only continue to expand, and a next-gen living room complete with voice commands is within your reach if you so desire.

Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Xbox One is a state-of-the-art gaming console, a new-generation TV and movie system, and a whole lot more. Gone are the days of switching inputs on your TV to play a game or watch a movie. With Xbox One, you can quickly jump from TV to movies to music to a game. Just with the sound of your voice.
  • Xbox One gets to know you. It learns what you like and what you don’t. And it brings it all together on your own personal home screen. And because every Xbox One comes with Kinect, it responds naturally to your voice, movements, and gestures. Say goodbye to the days of one-size-fits-all entertainment.
  • Xbox One brings you closer to the entertainment you love and the people you care about. You can chat with your friends on Skype while watching football on TV. Or show off your best game highlights instantly with Game DVR. And because Xbox One is powered by the cloud, you won’t have to wait around for game updates. It looks like the living room can finally start living up to its name.

  • To top