Reviews

The Xbox One

Xbox One, the all-in-one console, is a new generation of console. It isn’t just a games console, and Microsoft never intended it to be. No longer satisfied with being only a games console, they wanted an entertainment unit that consumes your living room. They wanted it to be all you need. I personally feel they delivered such a thing,

May 21st was the big Xbox Reveal. I wrote about what to predict back in April, Will the Xbox 720 Finally be Revealed, and I am quite pleased to say I was right about some things. After struggling with a bad internet connection I managed to watch the reveal using the IGN website as I had just missed it on the Xbox page. I sipped my tea, I ate my crumpets, and have already decided I will be having one.

It’s a black box that’s a bit bigger than the Xbox 360. Personally, I’m not surprised as they would require a simple design if it was meant to be something for the living room rather than a games console. It will fit into most living rooms, will sit on a shelf, mantelpiece, or on a table. The controller has been redesigned. No hefty control pack at the back. Already a win in my book. It has also been streamline more, the directional pad has changed, and the thumbsticks too.

Xbox One console, Kinect and Controller

Internally, it is a beast. It needs to be for what it contains. The 8GB memory, the custom built blu-ray optical drive with its 500GB hard-drive and 1.2 teraflop graphics core, and yes I am aware that the PS4 has more “raw power” but a PS4 is meant for gaming and pretty much just gaming. The Xbox One is meant to take over your living room; they need it to contain different elements to do so.

Showing greater detail of the Kinect from the Xbox OneThe Kinect that comes with it has improved too. It now has a 1080p camera and the new IR camera with advanced 3D geometry will make interacting a lot more smooth and realistic. What this means is that images will be crisper, it has a larger field of view and the way it measures the environment is different. It no longer looks at deformities when sending out IR, but now sends out a modulated beam and measures the time it takes photons to return. This is called ‘time of flight’ technology and this means it can also measure your heartbeat without you touching anything. Kinect gaming will change because of this and if you’re into exercising at home with it this will benefit you.

 

Screen split between Skype and watching a Movie

You’ll be able to watch TV on it, talk to people on Skype, use the internet and game on this thing. You can even do some of them simultaneously. But Susie, I can watch TV at home anyway. Yeah, you can, but then you need to go and find the remote to change channels. In this case you won’t have to. “Xbox TV” and it’s done. No need for a remote as you can just tell it what channel you want to watch or tell it to bring up the guide using just your voice. Personally I like this, I like not having to find the remote, I like the quick changing of things, and I like that it’s not just for gaming. I’m often using Skype while gaming or doing something else so for me this is a dream come true. Not only that, you can use Microsoft Smartglass, so you can control it via your tablet or phone. It’s brilliant.

Xbox One will also help with multiplayer games with its Smart Match. It will match you up with players across the world depending on skill, language and your player reputation. You can decide to play players who are just like you and have a real challenge.  So all that time you spend waiting for a game to load or start you can watch a bit of tv, listen to music, Google something but you won’t be waiting for it to find you a match. The Cloud will have already been looking for perfect partners before you’ve began playing.

Already in my head I have thought that includes a lot of components and the use of a lot of power. I would worry it would heat up. However, this seems to not be an issue. Previously the 360 had a 90 nanometre chip that had 3 separate units (CPU, GPU and embedded memory) on it. The Xbox One has a custom made SOC (system on a chip) that is a 28-nanometre chip that contains pretty much everything.

A single 28-nanometer chip contains an integrated CPU, GPU, and embedded memory rather than three separate units crammed onto a 90-nm chip in the 360. In fact, a custom SOC (system on a chip) module made by AMD contains the CPU/GPU chip, the memory, the controller logic, the DRAM, and the audio processors, and connects directly to the heat sink via a phase-change interface material. Whew.

It is true that the system is not backwards compatible for discs or downloads but a spokesperson assured Wired that it will support pre-owned games. There may be a small fee, nothing has been confirmed and probably won’t be til later in the year, but it shows the sign of making Xbox 360 games obsolete. However, don’t fret my friends. Don’t look to them with angst and say you’ve wasted your money. You haven’t. Think of the future, think of the joy you’ll get pulling out the Xbox 360 to show future generations what gaming used to be. Like I do when I pull out my Sega Megadrive and get that burst of sentimental love and joy, it will not be a waste, but a relic and we can proudly show it. Also, it seems gaming is heading towards being disc-less. If the Xbox One is providing a 500GB hard-drive can you imagine future gaming consoles? How much memory will they have and how many games will you be able to store on it? It will make discs pointless as they will only take up shelf space and will require you going to the shop. It will be far easier to download games onto the hard-drive directly. Plus means you can get games at any hour of the night in the comfort of your own home. That is my own personal thoughts to how gaming will be done in the future.

Another point that I’ve seen being voiced angrily across the internet is Microsoft not allowing self-publishing games on the cloud. I understand the frustration of not allowing self-publishing games on the Cloud for all of us to use, however, this isn’t new for Microsoft. It was the same with the Xbox 360 and it certainly didn’t hinder their sales, so there evidently was no need to change it. Their competition may be allowing it to happen but Microsoft doesn’t feel the need to follow suit.

Overall, if you’re not happy about it being more than just gaming that’s okay but you can still sit back and appreciate the technological advancements behind it. Personally the Xbox One brings a sigh of lazy relief. No more hunting for the remotes, no more changing channels just to play on the Xbox, better graphics, better controller, more memory, more power, and more appealing.

The Xbox One isn’t just about improving your gaming experience anymore; it’s about improving your living room experience. Improving how you relax and connecting you better with others.

About the author

Susie Cumberland

Susie is from the dark side of Nottingham and is a Research Data Analyst. She spends her free time watching movies, killing things in games, and pretending to work. Also, Susie has her own science based craft business called Astrodoodles. She is a keen doodler of space things. She can be found floating around on twitter @susiecumberland

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