Xbox One Review
Xbox One Box Art
System: Xbox One
Dev: Microsoft
Pub: Microsoft
Release: November 22, 2013
Players: 1 (2+ Online)
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p
One Box to Rule Them All?
by Joshua Bruce

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.

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