After the marriage has occurred, after the honeymoon has been and gone, there’s always the same question: What is a new console like to live with in the long term?
I got the Xbox One on day one, and one of the first things I noticed was, frankly, just how heavy the damn thing was. Theres no denying it, it is a big bit of kit – we’ve got a virgin media TiVO box under our TV, and the Xbox is almost as wide and slightly taller. When I got it out of the box, it had a good, solid feel to it. It felt like something that was worth £430. All in all, it took about half an hour to get wired up and turned on, what with the initial setup and update download, plus configuring the Kinect.
The setup was a relatively painless experience, and it guides you through pretty quickly, although even a month later its a bit hit and miss with the Kinect. When it tells you to have the speakers louder than usual so that it can configure, put them up MUCH louder than you usually would. This seemed to solve our problems.
The Kinect sits pretty neatly above the tv – I considered blu-taccing it, but there are actually some high-grip pads on the bottom that are holding it in place pretty well. It has fallen off the TV a couple of times when I’ve knocked it, but its a pretty chunky piece of gear, and still works perfectly. You do need to speak clearly for it to understand you, and it insists on you saying the full title of games in order to get to them, but it does work well.
When a lot of the early shots of the dashboard came out, a lot if people seemed worried about what seemed to be quite a cluttered look. Once it’s set up, though, I have to say its pretty easy to navigate. The bottom five tiles are recent activity, which makes it easy to jump between games and apps. Mainly, I’ve been using it to jump between the upload studio and the game I was playing. That being said, I very rarely use the pad to do this, as the Kinect is reliable enough for it to be the more convenient option for me.
In terms of games, I picked up Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag and I got Fifa 14 with the console as part of the Day One package. I’ve also downloaded Killer Instinct, but I haven’t played it much because frankly I’m shit at it, as illustrated below.
Leading on from that though, the movie editor and upload function is pretty smooth, although you do need to download it from Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage in order to upload it to YouTube.
The Xbox One Pad has a pleasing familiarity to it, although it took a little time for to get used to the batteries now being internal to the pad. It’s comfy to the hand, and the way the console detects who is holding the controller is pretty nifty – as is the way it recognises you when it spots your face.
Now, Microsoft do sell a charge an play kit for £15. Frankly, bollocks to that – the pad functions perfectly well on AA batteries, and the Duracell chargables I used lasted for two and a half weeks before I had to recharge them. I’m presuming that’s the pad’s new low power mode at work. To be honest, the one time I’ve had to recharge it, I made sure I had a long enough Micro-USB cable to simply plug it in and carry on playing. One minor source of irritation, however is that if the Kinect doesn’t spot you for a while, it asks whether or not you’re still playing. That’s alright if you’re on single player as it pauses the game, but it’s bloody annoying if you’re on multiplayer.
The current lack of entertainment apps is annoying – my main source of entertainment at the moment is Crunchyroll, which has yet to release it’s Xbox One app. Currently, what I’m doing is running the Xbox 360 though the One’s HDMI in port – admittedly, I was going to do this so I could play my 360 games anyway, but It isn’t something I want to do more than necessary, for the health of my electric bill if nothing else.
The new version of Smartglass – which I ironically use on a Sony phone – is excellently integrated, far more so than the 360’s version. It’s a reasonable way of getting round the system, although my main use of it has been as a remote control for the Blu-Ray player and as a keyboard/mouse for the internet.
A month in, the main problem with the Xbox One is a lack of content. It’s early days, so there’s a certain level of forgiveness that can be given here, but the console needs some more games and soon. What I’d also like to see is some reduction in prices on the digital store as well, because frankly some of them are absolutely ridiculous. Nearly £100 for a digital special edition of CoD: Ghosts? Piss right off. Microsoft has made it abundantly clear that they want people to look at digital version, and the store is very easy and efficient to use, but at the current prices there is literally no reason to use it over a brick-and-mortar store.
It’s a lovely piece of kit to have in the house, and as of yet, I still haven’t gotten bored of using the voice commands. Telling the console to turn itself on and off is surprisingly amusing – and with a bit of fine tuning its certainly consistent enough to replace the pad when it comes to navigation and top-end functionality. Honestly, if it came down to it I’d actually recommend getting a version with Kinect, even if they do decide to release one without it, because the functionality has been that well integrated. As a long-term buy, I’m very happy with it – I’m one of the majority who hasn’t had any problems with the disc drive – and I suspect it will come into it’s own as time goes on.
Come back in five months for my half year report and we’ll see how the One is getting on!