The Xbox One is Microsoft’s third attempt at a video game console and their latest attempt is the company trying to recreate their system into an all-in-one entertainment center. The Xbox’s new interface allows users to watch live TV service along with streaming media options, recorded programs and video chat. The Xbox One also includes a built-in Kinect motion sensor/remote extender/voice controller that was previously an accessory for the Xbox 360. Let’s take a look at some pros and cons to the Xbox One.

-Easy to share videos with friends
-Powerful interface
-Kinect included in the box
-Good integration with television and DVR

-Controller still requires batteries
-Hardware design not aesthetically pleasing
-Live subscription required for Netflix
-Price is way too expensive

The first thing that you’ll notice about the Xbox One is its design. It runs cool and is relatively quiet. It’s quite bulky and won’t be winning any awards for hardware design but its large size leaves a lot of room for the system to be able to breathe. The last console by Microsoft was easy to overheat and break down so we’ll give Microsoft a pass by trying to fix a potential hardware error early rather than to wait for problems down the road. There’s no ports or slots in the front. The only thing in the front is the disc drive and the Xbox One logo that lights up when powered on. All of the ports are neatly hidden in the back. You have all of your standard ports such as HDMI-Out, USB 3.0, ethernet, IR-Out and HDMI-in, which is how you feed the Xbox One your cable or satellite signal.

No review wouldn’t be complete without discussing the hardware inside this device. It’s powered by an AMD processor, backed by 8GB of DDR3 and 32MB of ultra fast ESRAM. The system now includes a Blu-ray drive so physical media lovers can now rejoice. The system has a 500 GB internal hard drive which is somewhat small when you consider that each game purchased takes up roughly 50 GB each time. One advantage the Xbox One has over the PS4 is that discs are not required to play. Once a game has been installed, the system won’t ask for it when it’s selected from the menu.

The controller on the Xbox 360 was pretty good so Microsoft only made minor improvements to the new controller. The d-pad was made into a cross and the analog sticks were made slightly smaller. The controller requires AA batteries to function which we still don’t like but the controller can last for over a week without the need to be recharged so we’re not that angry over battery life. Kinect is now included right in the box and we like this because it’s making the device look legitimate and not some extra accessory that you need to purchase at the store. The device is good at sensing when you’re in the room and follows voice commands quite clearly but you’ll need to stick to rather rigid command syntax so it understands you. Everything you say has to begin with ‘Xbox’. It sounds simple enough but you’ll find plenty of ways to make errors and not have the device do what you wanted it to do. Microsoft is still new to voice commands and will get better and learn from their mistakes much like Apple did when they launched Siri on the Iphone.

The user interface is similar to Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system. You’ll need to download a patch to be able to use the internet and the patch is 2 GB in size. The snap function is used for the Xbox One which allows users to share multiple apps on the same screen. Microsoft’s SkyDrive service lets you easily record and share your personal epic wins. Simply say ‘Xbox record that’ to Kinect and a 720p recording of your last thirty seconds in-game is saved to the hard drive. Smartglass is the Xbox’s second screen experience. It was introduced on the Xbox 360 and lets you navigate menus and see system information on your tablet or smartphone. You can now launch apps from the second screen, and several games now have companion apps.

We can’t finish this review without talking about Xbox Live. It seems that Microsoft is intent on forcing more services on to a premium membership which will cost customers more money for less services. Xbox Live is still basically the same service we knew from the 360. You can message friends, join groups for voice chat and jump right into a game. The one advantage of paying so much for a subscription is the benefit of having stable servers. We’ve yet to experience any network interruptions or get kicked from servers because of network issues. Another drawback is that a gold subscription should offer gamers more free games to reward its paying customers. Furthermore, we don’t like that you need a gold subscription for Netflix. Netflix and other similar services should be included for free like Nintendo and Sony did.

One final issue to raise about this device is its price. 500$ is a lot of money no matter how hard you try to justify it. The economy is tough already and people aren’t going to take out a loan to purchase a video game console.

Our final verdict is that the Xbox One has a lot of potential. It’s trying to be an entertainment center and succeeding in some respects but still needs to improve its service and functionality in other areas. The launch titles for the system are strong but we would caution people to wait for the price of the console to come down a bit and have Microsoft fix some kinks out before heading to the electronics store and putting some money down on a unit.

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