Xbox One Review: Has Microsoft Gone Too Far With Its New Console?

XBox One 1

The impressive new video game console, that replaces the Xbox 360, is a reflection of our distracted times where multi-tasking rules

Now that Microsoft’s Xbox One is out and powering up TVs across the world, the company should be praised for coming up with a piece of hardware that actually lives up to its promise of delivering pretty much everything you might want –- games, movies, live or streamed TV shows, access to social media, Skype, “Minority Report”-like controls – all in one set-top box.

But what the Xbox One also does is serve as a mirror, reflecting who we are as a society right now.

Microsoft means well by giving us the option to play a game while watching a TV show and monitoring the tweets from people we follow while recording and posting what just happened on screen all at the same time.

With the Xbox One, Microsoft is clearly trying to recapture some of the magic Nintendo conjured up with its Wii in 2006, that made gaming appeal to the entire family, not just men who wanted to spend hours shooting aliens or soldiers.

Yet while trying to please everyone in the living room, for example, Microsoft is embracing the A.D.D. that’s turned us all into a distracted mess, always staring at a screen of various sizes and unable to carry on a conversation with the people around us. The much-enhanced Kinect further encourages us to talk to our hardware.

Of course, Microsoft isn’t alone. Every major electronics manufacturer is trying to pack as many multi-tasking tools as they can onto the devices they try to sell us. But in doing so, many are losing focus and failing to actually do anything well. Nintendo is struggling to remain relevant after failing to innovate on the gaming side and turning its newer Wii U into a broader entertainment device. Microsoft needs to keep that in mind as it constantly updates its next-generation console with new capabilities.

Is the Xbox One worth buying? Absolutely. Its tech specs are top-notch, a notable step up from the eight-year-old Xbox 360 that it replaces. But its price tag is $100 more than Sony’s PlayStation 4 because it comes with the Kinect, which has also been considerably updated from the original motion and voice sensor released in 2010 with better cameras and built-in technology.

In fact, it’s like a puppy leashed to your entertainment center, eager to please every time you walk into the room. And it’s named Xbox, who demands attention and constant commands.

The Xbox One hasn’t done away with the stern Xbox voice many Kinect users suddenly found themselves adopting three years ago. In fact, it’s going to only get louder, with Microsoft wanting you to now control how you watch live TV or select content from streaming video providers.

New features like the OneGuide, which takes over the clumsily designed programming schedules on your set-top box from a cable or satellite provider is a major plus –- especially as it offers up programming from apps like Machinima and other non-traditional content providers with apps designed for the Xbox One.

Searching for entertainment like a TV show or movie, or other titles that feature specific talent, has also improved considerably through Bing, with apps and stores popping up on how to view the content.

Such search functions will be critical as more digital distributors like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu produce original content and consumers forget –- or fail to care –- who offers what.

About that box. Microsoft has embraced industrial design with its new console. It’s large and a little imposing with sharp edges, a mix of shiny and grate-like surfaces on the black box that’s almost retro in its looks, a design perhaps meant to help Microsoft win over the non-gamer, as well. It looks like something a Comcast or DirecTV would deliver when signing up as a new subscriber. The Xbox 360 was far more playful with its curves and looked like a video game console. The Xbox One is far more serious.

But when powered on, your eye immediately goes to the glowing Xbox logo that lights up on the console and the Kinect. It’s an attention to detail that’s welcoming, as is the friendly shade of green the Xbox One’s designers have amped up on its main screen, a branding decision that trumps the colder, icy blue of the PlayStation.

SEE ALSO: PS4 Review: Sony Evolves, Not Revolutionizes the PlayStation

At its core, the Xbox One is still meant to be a gaming device, and it delivers here, too.

Consoles typically show off their capabilities through sports and racing games, and EA’s “NFL Madden” football franchise and “Forza Motorsport 5” look glorious and only hint at what kind of innovative play publishers are developing for the Xbox One in the coming years.

The subtly but noticeably redesigned Xbox One controller also makes playing games a better experience; the excellent new controller is lighter, features bigger buttons, vibrating triggers and is more comfortable to hold.

But with the PlayStation 4 also packing similar power, Microsoft hopes to win over the non-hardcore gamer with everything else the Xbox One does.

It will take some time to determine whether it succeeds. But if the way society today is glued to its smartphones and tablets is any indication, Microsoft may have a big multi-tasking winner on its hands.

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  1. Bob Dole says:

    These consoles are built using slave laborers in China / Africa.

    Anyone who purchases these are deluded, narcissistic, wastes of life, pieces of garbage, don’t deserve to breathe the air here.

    MS, Sony, and all of the fans should be imprisoned for supporting and actively causing human slavery.

    I hate my generation, I hate the disgusting people that now inhabit this planet with me, uneducated morons spouting fanboy one liners.

    Do the world a favor tech kids, go off yourselves, we have seen the future you want for humanity, and you can keep it.

  2. sam says:

    very confused by the headline

  3. nano says:

    people Dumb. Kinect it tight

  4. michael pearson says:

    I love my XBox One so far. Stayed up till the early hours playing Ghosts, B4 and Ryse.

    But I feel that Microsoft ripped gamers off by bundling that $100 Kinect with it. I tossed my $100 Kinect at my couch as soon as I unboxed and haven’t looked at it since. You do NOT need it for gaming at all.

    The Playstation 4 kept the focus on gaming while XBox One tried (badly) to add features thru the Kinect that many gamers did not want (do you REALLY want to spend an extra $100 to talk to your TV? Heck, I’ve been doing it for years for FREE!!). But because we wanted the One, we had to spend the extra hundred dollars on the bundled Kinect.

    My recommendation if you are trying to decide on either the XBox One or the Playstation 4–if you have no preference either way, save yourself the $100 if you only want a GAMING device and get the Playstation 4.

    Unfortunately, I prefer the XBox controller style and XBox Live over the Sony controller and playing network. So Microsoft took advantage of my weakness.

    It was too late for me, but save yourself! Read the comments on many gaming boards.

    Don’t fall into the Microsoft trap. That extra $100 Microsoft squeezed out of us for an unwanted bundled device will not be worth it to everyone.

  5. cafesmitty says:

    Be careful of your words, the XBOX is watching you… all they are missing is a Pizza and Beer ordering and delivery app.. or a dispenser that pumps out 5 energy shots and Monster drinks.

  6. Martin Stein says:

    Xbox One was marketed as the “all in one console”. Many were waiting for it not as a gaming platform, but as the home media solution, the hub for all home media. It fails completely: it currently has no ability to read from USB or my network to play my libraries of songs and videos. This functionality may be added later, but as a day one customer, I am fully fully fully let down. Although you touch on this in your article, I thought the Xbox One should have been critiqued more harshly given it’s marketing slogan of “all in one”. It’s not all in one, it’s a gaming platform that also acts as a pipe for streamed content that Microsoft wants to sell. They seem to have conspired to stop customers from using their own music and videos, and yes, it was deliberate, because the Xbox 360 could do this; they removed the functionality. Signed, Disappointed in Ottawa.

    • Will says:

      I agree although kinect 2.0 is a drastic improvement over its predecessor it still could use some work I really was anticipating something that would actually search the Internet for content or better understand the commands. Microsoft I hope your listening to this because the hardware is impressive and apps launch and load a lot better than the 360. I bought the ps3 first then put it down when I got my 360 and haven’t looked back. The speech recognition could use a drastic improvement that can be done with software. As far as the bonus of controlling my TV receiver I can tune by voice and browse the guide it still cannot access recordings or on demand features of the service I can launch Internet explorer by my voice, sadly I cannot bing search the Internet or jump to a popular site by voice command. Same goes for other apps content that requires you to type your searches nor could I get a wireless keyboard/mouse to work so only half of the All in One entertainment device I was sold is not there yet I hope it gets improvements it needs added before they try to sell me another console. I’m also disappointed in the amount of apps that are not yet available and a terrible lack of game demos for a console I just dropped $500 plus a $75 controller charge and play kit and paying $60+ game titles. Step it up before the disappointment spreads. I renew my Xbox live 1 year at a time so please keep me interested.

  7. Lukeboe says:

    Green is not a creative color…

  8. Erek Garcia says:

    This article is totally bias. Obviously a fanboi

  9. deon says:

    If you have no internet at home, good luck doing ANYTHING…

  10. dc36 says:

    Have you gone too far with your headline? Sensationalism at work…

  11. L says:

    As long as it’s positioned as a gaming device (PLUS), the XBox will never find buyers in the large, non-gaming general market. Sure it does other neat things but that huge segment of the population can get it from Roku, AppleTV, Smart TVs, etc. They won’t shell out $500 for a gaming console that also does the other stuff. Microsoft hasn’t solved that one and perhaps don’t care to.

  12. J says:

    See I find this rather comical where it talks about “Microsoft is embracing the A.D.D. that’s turned us all into a distracted mess” and yet all I seem to see on the news is how yet another person was shot and killed by someone else or some your girl has gone missing because of whatever. The News media have everyone so afraid to go outside out of fear that we will die from some outbreak, gun toting teenager or overseas threat that we have to turn to Gaming to find something NORMAL. So the next time you read about how Gaming is killing out youth…just remember, at least they are safe.

  13. I am far too much a distracted mess to read this seo-grab disguised as an article.

  14. Ian Berkshire says:

    Can’t wait to get it.

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