Architect, Technologist, and gamer.

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My completely subjective Xbox One mini review

My completely subjective Xbox One mini review

For me it wasn't a PS4 vs. the Xbox One, I was getting the One. I love the 360 and the direction they were going, so the One was a natural fit for my main family display. What was once a game console on a secondary TV quickly became the go to input as streaming video became a huge part of the content we consumed. So much so that I have two 360's. I'm in the ecosystem big time and I love it.

Everything I loved about the 360 is just better and faster with the One. A LOT faster. The demos up to the launch almost seemed fake, but it delivers on speed big time. To the point where using a PS3 or a 360 now seems like a big step backwards. When we hear the term next gen, its almost hard to understand what that means anymore in our world of yearly electronic upgrades. We are so used to incremental upgrades that the "next gen" experience is more or less lost on us now. I think this is mostly due to what the term used to mean and what it means now. To me, this term mostly referred to the hardware. How many pixels, bits, and polygons could it push around. Now we know better, thanks to Apple. A Next gen experience is all about marrying the hardware and software to the point of perfection. Apple refers to this as the "post pc" era, but either way this is what next gen means now and its awesome!

Does the Xbox One deliver on being the One? Surprisingly yes! I was fully expecting to hook it all up knowing that I'll have to unhook the TV integration when my wife had finally had enough. If it can't pass the family test, its just not worth the trouble, period. Thankfully, where the One is limited on TV control, my Harmony remote was there to rescue me. I was able to gracefully program around any limitation making the transition from DirecTV to the One seamless. I feel that having a Harmony or equivalent is truly required to make the live TV integration a complete reality, at least until the One can add more control over things like the dvr list, skip, back, and others. The OneGuide is a nice addition, no doubt, but it still lacks easy controller/remote navigation. Instead, they bank on using your voice to get around. It's good to have voice as an option, but it shouldn't be the only one. I don't want to argue with my TV to page through the guide. That said, I'm still confident you could get by quite nicely using smart glass and voice if you were just watching live TV. In fact that's how I prefer to control the One most of the time. It even handles the volume controls on my LG sound bar, so muting, volume up, and volume down work well by voice and smart glass alike. "Xbox On" (which also turns on DTV & TV), "Xbox Watch TV", launch smart glass on my phone, and I'm good to go. It actually works, which is hard to say about most tech these days.

The Kinect is what its all about. Without the Kinect, the common apples to apples comparisons of the One and PS4 are more of a reality. But Kinect is the Xbox One and the Xbox One is Kinect. I've read most of the tech site reviews and for the most part they are all on the same page. Kinect is what sets the One apart from any other device and is clearly the future of input in the living room. Not only can use use it to do anything on the One, but it aims to be a massively integrated part of the gaming experience as well. I've already gotten a taste with Ryse shouting orders to my legion, and with Dead Rising 3..."over here" at the zombies to distract them. It's cool NUI stuff and it's hard to imagine where the boundaries will even be with this type of tech. But even more exciting and relevant to me and mine is the amazing Skype experience. It's a breath of fresh air not having to get out the laptop or tablet and struggle to see and hear the other person over yelling and easily distracted kids. Now it's on the big screen with Kinect doing the hard work of following us around the room and gracefully dealing the with background noise. What was once a chore is now much more natural and convenient, making it even easier to stay connected. I feel Skype alone is a compelling enough reason to adopt the One early, it's that good. "Xbox off"..."XBOX OFF!"...."Xbox (wait for it) Off". Now wasn't that faster then pressing the power button :) . Yeah, its not perfect yet, but would it be too much to ask for some customization? "My voice is my passport, verify me"...now that's some next gen shit!

So you like to play Games? 20+ launch titles and I purchased 4 of them. Forza 5, Dead Rising 3, Ryse son of Rome, and Call of Duty Ghosts. I may have bitten off more than I can chew time wise, but so far I've spent a decent amount of time with Forza and Ryse. If there was an exact definition of what a next gen launch title should be, I think both of these games easily fit the bill. Incredible graphics, totally new experiences, and endless replayability. So what you traditionally have to wait 3-6 months after a console launch for (e.g. Titanfall), these two titles deliver on day one, and that's pretty impressive. Definitely check out in-depth reviews of each, but from my perspective, don't pass either of them up if you have a One. My drivatar will see you on the race track! I also recommend downloading them and not buying the disc. I have one on disc (Ryse) and the other I downloaded (Forza). Both took about the same time to reach the ready to play state while installing, except with Ryse I need the disc in the drive. As weird as it sounds, the act of putting in the disc really disconnects you from the One experience and feels old school. The game has to be installed anyway, so why not just skip the old media and make the experience more seamless. I don't care about carrying the disc with me to another person's console or selling the disc for practically nothing to Gamestop. If I ever do want to take the game with me, I can, it just has to be downloaded instead of installed from disc on the new console. When is the last time you bought a PC game on disc? I'm happy to have purchased my last console game disc and won't be looking back.

Final thoughts. If you have a 360, then you should really think about getting the One. To me, it's not a decision of PS4 vs. One as most tech sites would have you believe...they do love a good VS! after all. If you're invested in Xbox and Xbox Live, then the One will be the next gen upgrade you've been waiting for. It exponentially enhances all of the current 360's abilities and adds a whole lot more. That's not to say your 360 won't be around for a long time either, I plan on keeping and using mine for years to come. I'm still getting new games for it and you'll still find more apps on the 360 right now due to its maturity...though I'm sure the One will catch up and then some in the months to come. The main take away and most exciting part for me is that it's just getting started. It's already this great and we don't even know about the forthcoming windows 8 like app store yet. If you just look at the evolution of the 360 for comparison, we're in for a lot of exciting new experiences and changes over the next 8 years. These are the times when I love technology, a point in time where you can see the tech future we all talk about actually happening.

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