For all the media attention and fanfare, you might think Microsoft was launching a new console today. And given what the company is spending on marketing its latest peripheral, you wouldn’t be that far off.
Kinect, a motion sensor device that allows users to play games simply by using gestures and voice commands, hit shelves today – and is predicted by many to become one of this year’s “must have” holiday gifts. Microsoft is so confident in the device that is has raised its internal sales predictions for calendar 2010 from 3 million to 5 million.
But is it any good?
The answer isn’t as easy as a simple yes or no. Kinect is a wildly imaginative, truly unique device that will charm the mass-market audience and truly does take gaming to an area it hasn’t explored before. It’s not perfect, though, and the more time you spend with the device, the more those flaws show.
Let’s start with the good. On a technological level, Kinect is a wonder. The device’s sensors track your movements in 3D and let you play games without anything in your hand. When it’s done right, it’s a hell of a lot of fun – and is vastly different from the Wii and Sony’s PlayStation Move.
Kinect also lets you communicate with your Xbox 360 vocally – pausing and playing movies, music and other programming. Unnecessary? Sure! But it’s still fun. What’s frustrating, though, is that only some of the Xbox’s popular applications are included. Netflix, arguably the console’s most used function for the device after video games, is not among them – and that’s a curious omission by Microsoft.