Eight years. Eight years since Microsoft first launched its Xbox 360. Eight years of research and development, testing, and designing. After a less than ideal announcement, followed by some unfortunate public relations, Microsoft’s Xbox One is officially here. And it’s not just a gaming console; this is a statement from Microsoft, a pledge to completely take over your living room. It’s not just a gaming machine, but a full-on media powerhouse, focused on TV, Kinect and more. Welcome to Microsoft’s Xbox One future.
Oh boy, the Xbox One is large, almost shockingly so. Compared to Sony’s PlayStation 4, the One’s size seems bloated, overwhelming, colossal, almost like an old VCR or cable box. But that doesn’t mean the design itself doesn’t look nice; it’s actually quite nice, very slick. The console itself is fairly unassuming, not too spectacular, but the black color and modular design work, and overall it’s more attractive than not. Unlike the PS4, however, the power brick isn’t built into the console, making the entire package much, much larger than Sony’s design—with the Kinect involved, you’ll need plenty of space to set the Xbox One up.
The Xbox One’s controller has been changed, though the new look is more subtle than, say, the DualShock 3 to DualShock 4. And that’s perfectly fine, because the Xbox 360 controller was already terrific, and the Xbox One controller feels even better, more compact, solid. Microsoft iterated on the design in ways that makes it feel and look like something from the next generation; there’s an actual D-Pad, guide button and grippier thumbsticks that are a little smaller and easier to maneuver. In addition, the controller’s triggers now rumble and depress with satisfaction. It doesn’t quite have the flare and functionality of the DS4, but the Xbox One controller still feels wonderful, and that’s basically all gamers need.
As for Kinect, Microsoft is putting a lot of emphasis on voice commands, allowing gamers to control their entire experience by telling the Xbox One what to do. When watching TV, you can simply search for a channel or program with your voice, and much more. In mobile, we’ve gravitated a lot toward experiences dominated by voice commands, and Kinect huge selling point is how well it recognizes what you say to it. Microsoft has demoed this technology endlessly, and it certainly looks impressive—we haven’t yet tried it out, so we’ll get back to you on how well it actually works.
With other neat features like SmartGlass, an enhanced Kinect camera, an improved Dashboard, emphasis on TV, and more, the Xbox One is a console focused on more than just gaming. Sure, gaming is at its core, and Microsoft’s console arguably has the better launch titles. But the Remond company has designed a device to dominate your living room, whether you’re watching TV, browsing through Netflix or, yes, playing Dead Rising 3. It’s a setup for the future, something that’s oozing potential. At $500, it’s more expensive than its direct competition, and it’s a lot larger, too. But it certainly offers a lot—if not right at this moment, enough to get excited about what’s to come.