Xbox One Review: Microsoft's Ambitious Play For The Living Room

By Kirk Hamilton on November 20, 2013, 11:29 AM

The Xbox One is a testament to Microsoft's towering ambition. It represents their desire not only to occupy a place in your home entertainment center, but to lumber straight into the center of it. The company stumbled when announcing its console, betting that users would be okay with an always-online Xbox that blocked used game sales and required a Kinect motion camera to operate. But the gaming public was livid at the news, and eventually Microsoft relented, removing the console's Internet and Kinect requirements as well as its DRM.

The Xbox One I've been using for the past week and a half is significantly different from that announced back in May. The relatively short period of time Microsoft has had to make so many changes is evident in the console and its software. Xbox One is clearly coming in hot, and many of its features aren't quite complete.

How best to evaluate a work in progress? It ain't easy, and this is going to be a long review.

Read the complete review.




User Comments: 27

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2 people like this | SantistaUSA said:

Great review. Microsoft is not focusing in gaming, I like the looks of the xone comparing to the PS4 tho, they shouldn't had the kinect bundled with all xones, to me that's an added cost that we gamers don't really care for it.

I think PS4 will do much better than x1!

1 person liked this | Heed4673 said:

In the end it all comes down to games, and both next gen consoles have plenty of power for that. I buy consoles for games, and as long as there are good games to play I'm happy.

wastedkill said:

This xbox one review is the best review I have ever seen it shows you exactly what you want to see when it comes to reviewing a console I never knew that it was this bad its performance in gaming is terrible only 21 frames and the worst 99th percentile score :/ thats not good.

lol sorry but had too you did call it a review!

2 people like this | Guest said:

THe XBONE wasn't meant to be for gamers.... It's all about TV watching with the ability to game tacked on. I had a DVD/VCR combo that looked just like it.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

"I'm not sure I really want to talk to my TV all day." I'm not a console gamer, but if I was, this would be a deal breaker for me. I'm talking all day at work, talking to friends and family at night and on the weekends. I DON'T want to talk to a box when I'm trying to relax. Especially when it only works even 80% of the time.

This was a great, in-depth review. Wish all reviews were this comprehensive.

2 people like this | amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Buddy of mine bought me GTA5 for my PS3 and I gotta say, it looks quite good. I have NO reason to upgrade and being a PC enthusiast who gets my eye candy fix there, I may skip this generation of consoles completely.

1 person liked this | treeski treeski said:

Well I'll go against the grain and say I'll probably pick one of these up sometime next year. I think it looks pretty sweet, and can only get better with updates.

1 person liked this | ViperSniper2 said:

I think he nailed it in the review, I DONT WANT TO BE TALKING TO MY TV ALL THE TIME! YOU NEED A REALLY BIG NEW EXCLUSIVE TO SELL THIS THING MICROSOFT

Not so FAST...... This writer misses the point completely with voice commands and it could all be done w/ a universal remote control anyway. But..... alas voice command is something people will have to learn and get used to. Just like using an original controller for games. It takes getting used to using one or you won't be able to do as much Joe Gamer, who's been using game controllers since he was born on lots of different systems. A first timer sitting down to play against him is going to get creamed and may never play the games again.

And that's exactly why as a reviewer of a pre-launch device, you should never set it up for failure under your novice/experience terms at using a new control mechanism. That may not be quite ready for prime time like this anyway. This is the kind of review people don't need to read to understand that this writer actually hated it from the moment he heard the name even or the company or is going by preconceived ideas about it before he even sat down to try it out. He then promptly went to work to nitpick it to death in order to Pre-Destroy it's chance at success, like so many pro Apple or Sony products, he's really wanting to promote.

Luckily though we have this thing called public reviews coming, after buying a new device and putting it to use. If they find really good things or simply ways to fix things, that this writer is out to destroy it for. That's why launch devices today are always Betas for a long time anyway. Even Apple's iOS, phones and tablets have always been betas and are still working out bugs as well. Nothing in software especially should ever be completely ready or perfect until the system's dead gone and buried.

Because as life changes so does the code that makes up software. All bugs are never found, all the best features are never ready out of box and are just there waiting to be discovered by accident. There will be glitches, errors and what not and some players/users will actually learn to take advantage of them and hate it when they're fixed and gone. Game Consoles are a peculiar beast in this regard, because you have many classes/range of players/users just like in life. A particular class of players are the ones who discover new ways to use Kinect or invent the next Game Shark or Genie to take back control. AND that's what got Sony into the gaming console business out of the blue in the first place. It was PS1's faults and attempts to do things for us we didn't want done, that we were able to overcome. That's when using the system's bugs, glitches and slow connections to one's best advantage took off and we all became home brew fix junkies. We loved it when a big company wasn't perfect and we bought them anyway, because we could make them better ourselves.

People didn't love games/consoles because they were perfect out of the box, but because they were imperfect. So they could change them and invent workarounds themselves. The old spin a disk with the lid open to get a PS1 copy game disk to play, became an art form. Everyone had their own technique and if the system would have been perfect the people who bought them couldn't make them do what they wanted to do in the first place.

So there are reasons why there is NO PERFECT ANYTHING ON THIS PLANET..... even ourselves!!! ....if there was, time/life would be boring there'd be nothing of interest going on in life and we'd be like the people in 1984 with NO MINDS OF OUR OWN!!!!

Instead we'd be like guys with stepford wives, we only thought we wanted one. Because some reviewer somewhere was paid to tell us how perfect it was or because little Jonny or Sue age 2 was cooing and awing at daddy writer's every move on this new Sony console. AND that's why we have our own minds better prepared to listen to facts NOT colored by an author's builtin prejudicial experience with a new device. Especially when a writer exhibits clear signs his mind is fixed on killing a product, before it even gets a chance to be used by the customers it's intended to be used by!!! ;-) .....us the public. Use your own best judgement in making a decision on what to buy or not. Don't let this author or any writer online make your DECISIONS FOR YOU BEFORE YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO USE THE DEVICE YOURSELF!!!

ikesmasher said:

Fantastic review. Really is.

I didn't know about the snap feature, and that IS really cool. I can see xbox 1 being a viable solution to entertainment after a plethora of AAA games and system patches. Id still go with the PS4 though. But as a highschooler/soon-to-be-college student, not as someone with a family or something like that.

ViperSniper2 said:

This is perhaps the worst review I've ever read on any product launch in history. It's just so obvious this writer already had his mind made up. For what reason, I don't know, but he didn't miss a chance to diss on a feature Xbox One has and others don't. In fact Sony hasn't added new features, they've actually taken features away. Like Media center features w/ DLNA support now GONE!

Sony instead has made the PS4 so sterile, it's bound to be a ONE TRICK PONY!

I mean to diss on a device that allows me to stream in a Snap from my PC or PS3 to my TV all in one connected device is something no other console has ever had. We don't even know what other features Microsoft is bringing with the Xbox One and don't forget.... one of the reasons it has more features is because Phil Harrison of Sony fame is now working behind the scenes to give us more. Instead of being pressured by Sony's mindless Sir Howard Stringnutz the 3rd's asinine hyper focus on share holder profits instead of doing JOB ONE being for customer satisfaction!

It's reviews like this that send me running to the toilet and having to gargle mouthwash to clear the bad taste it left in my mouth, in getting rid of the garbage he's trying to force on every reader. He purposely wrote this not to help fix problems, but to destroy the launch and that's totally uncalled for. There is not one positive thing he brings up, that he doesn't takes time to destroy about it afterwards. Which is exactly why you know he's not a fan of Microsoft, nor even a Gamer to begin with. Because if he was..... he'd have said something about the gaming features and not so narrowly focus on the features Xbox One has, that Sony took away!

ikesmasher said:

This is perhaps the worst review I've ever read on any product launch in history. It's just so obvious this writer already had his mind made up. For what reason, I don't know, but he didn't miss a chance to diss on a feature Xbox One has and others don't. In fact Sony hasn't added new features, they've actually taken features away. Like Media center features w/ DLNA support now GONE!

Sony instead has made the PS4 so sterile, it's bound to be a ONE TRICK PONY!

I mean to diss on a device that allows me to stream in a Snap from my PC or PS3 to my TV all in one connected device is something no other console has ever had. We don't even know what other features Microsoft is bringing with the Xbox One and don't forget.... one of the reasons it has more features is because Phil Harrison of Sony fame is now working behind the scenes to give us more. Instead of being pressured by Sony's mindless Sir Howard Stringnutz the 3rd's asinine hyper focus on share holder profits instead of doing JOB ONE being for customer satisfaction!

It's reviews like this that send me running to the toilet and having to gargle mouthwash to clear the bad taste it left in my mouth, in getting rid of the garbage he's trying to force on every reader. He purposely wrote this not to help fix problems, but to destroy the launch and that's totally uncalled for. There is not one positive thing he brings up, that he doesn't takes time to destroy about it afterwards. Which is exactly why you know he's not a fan of Microsoft, nor even a Gamer to begin with. Because if he was..... he'd have said something about the gaming features and not so narrowly focus on the features Xbox One has, that Sony took away!

He brings up plenty of positive things, and doesn't "destroy" anything. His job is to review HIS experience with the console In an unbiased manner, and he does. There is no anti xbox or pro PS4 propaganda in this review. The PS4 didnt get a flawless review either...

You sound like someone who is either a troll or someone who didnt actually read the article. That, or you assume everything that isnt a positive comment is a negative/bashing comment.

I thought that was a fairly positive review, given, as the writer said, the dramatic changes in the xbox console.

ViperSniper2 said:

He brings up plenty of positive things, and doesn't "destroy" anything. His job is to review HIS experience with the console In an unbiased manner, and he does. There is no anti xbox or pro PS4 propaganda in this review. The PS4 didnt get a flawless review either...

You sound like someone who is either a troll or someone who didnt actually read the article. That, or you assume everything that isnt a positive comment is a negative/bashing comment.

I thought that was a fairly positive review, given, as the writer said, the dramatic changes in the xbox console.

You call this a fair review? The PS4 review is fair and only mentions a few misses and even it is not ready for prime time even now after it's launched. And as to I'm a Troll? WTF?!? I'm only pointing out the fact that he really had nothing good to say about it and in no uncertain terms condemns it to an early death. The reality is that consoles this generation switched places and last time it was Sony who was throwing every feature and the kitchen sink along with it, so you didn't have to buy anything extra. This time it's Microsoft doing that and they're getting hit for being more expensive and having far more useful features than simply playing games!

ikesmasher said:

You call this a fair review? The PS4 review is fair and only mentions a few misses and even it is not ready for prime time even now after it's launched. And as to I'm a Troll? WTF?!? I'm only pointing out the fact that he really had nothing good to say about it and in no uncertain terms condemns it to an early death. The reality is that consoles this generation switched places and last time it was Sony who was throwing every feature and the kitchen sink along with it, so you didn't have to buy anything extra. This time it's Microsoft doing that and they're getting hit for being more expensive and having far more useful features than simply playing games!

you are clearly the biased one here, the writer in no way condemns the console; its simply buggy. Either you are biased, you didn't read the article, or cant understand the article.

And saying last gen sony threw every feature in is also erroneous. the PS3 did not have party chat, nor did it have HDMI runthrough, nor many other media services the xbox had. Sony was clearly staying mostly put in the gaming category while microsoft was clearly heading towards general media along with gaming.

I don't know what you are on, nor do I want it.

1 person liked this | fimbles fimbles said:

Quote: "My boss Stephen Totilo likes to watch pro wrestling, and when he does, he likes to watch it in surround sound"

Great review but that part made me chuckle

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

@ViperSniper2 - I got the same impression as you did of this review. It's like he set his expectations somewhere between 'best device ever' and 'built by God Himself' and then complained about every little thing possible that fell short. Lines like 'It can function as a universal remote, but it makes the same mistakes as universal remotes" "It can understand your voice, but it gets it wrong sometimes." Well, Yeah! There's not a little man in there listening to you and pushing buttons.

It was very subjective, like he was pointing out his annoyances more than anything else. If you're reviewing a product you should teach us about it, not tell us what you don't like. This guy should go read a review on Anandtech to see how it's done.

This device sounds like a huge step forward in home entertainment technology, and I don't see how anyone could argue that. Yet he complains like " You can talk to it, but then you have to talk to it."

ikesmasher said:

Alright I'll agree with that last statement, that complaining about how you have to talk to it when thats a base concept of the device is rather lame, and I did sort of forget that when I argued viper.

The device IS a huge step forward in entertainment systems and the author admits that. I think, then, its only fair that all the bugs DO get pointed out because no one really has experience with anything like it.

But now that I read your post and look back, I can say I agree in the sense that complaining about the feature itself when it was advertised as part of the console (as in, talking to the console) is ridiculous.

customcarvin customcarvin said:

From the review:

Let me start with a metaphor. I know, I know. Metaphors are the worst...

Actually, I think metaphors are great; definitely far from the worst. I think that sentence should have read:

"Let me start with a metaphor. I know, I know. *My* Metaphors are the worst..."

'cause that whole dragon thing, yea, that was pretty lame.

Guest said:

I like reviews like this, very critical and this applies for either ps4 or xbox one. I think by now a majority of us know what the console is suppose to do and it's also not too hard to find reviews that glorify all the positive things but as a potential buyer it's nice to know a product's shortfalls and being able to make a conscious decision with the purchase.

I think it's a good thing to highlight the negative points so I am aware of them and decide if its something I will be able to put up with. I much rather hear all the negative things than get a review of all the positive things that's expected from the product and end up somewhat disappointed after making my purchase although a balance is preferred. I think a review is only bad if it provides false information or overly exaggerates experiences. A review is to provide information from which you then make your own decision, I would also imagine you read multiple reviews before making that final decision.

Puiu Puiu said:

He brings up plenty of positive things, and doesn't "destroy" anything. His job is to review HIS experience with the console In an unbiased manner, and he does. There is no anti xbox or pro PS4 propaganda in this review. The PS4 didnt get a flawless review either...

You sound like someone who is either a troll or someone who didnt actually read the article. That, or you assume everything that isnt a positive comment is a negative/bashing comment.

I thought that was a fairly positive review, given, as the writer said, the dramatic changes in the xbox console.

You call this a fair review? The PS4 review is fair and only mentions a few misses and even it is not ready for prime time even now after it's launched. And as to I'm a Troll? WTF?!? I'm only pointing out the fact that he really had nothing good to say about it and in no uncertain terms condemns it to an early death. The reality is that consoles this generation switched places and last time it was Sony who was throwing every feature and the kitchen sink along with it, so you didn't have to buy anything extra. This time it's Microsoft doing that and they're getting hit for being more expensive and having far more useful features than simply playing games!

this is why people hate fanboys. he gave a fairly positive review of a console that did not have the day one patch which in turn means that it was very buggy.

good games and nice features that "might" work as intended in the future. what more could you ask for?

as it stands xbox one's voice commands are buggy for people who aren't native english speakers or have heavy accents and the TV stuff mostly doesn't work well if at all outside the USA. As usual Sony will 100% win in sale numbers in Europe, Asia, etc. but now it will also sell more in the US. It's a fact that nobody can deny, especially after PS4's exclusives come out in 2014.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

You could control the XBOX 360 w/kinect with hand gestures couldn't you? Is that option gone with the XBone? If it's not gone, then yea, this review should be taken with a heap of salt imo.

I wonder how many times he contacted MS to get answers for his complaints.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I wonder how many times he contacted MS to get answers for his complaints.
And the few times he did I wonder what the response was?

"I've had access to a "Beta" Xbox One for the past one and a half weeks, and Microsoft representatives have repeatedly reminded me that the software I've been using isn't final. The system software has been regularly updated during my time with the machine, and there'll be one more update released in time for Friday, the day the console is released. The games will be updated, too. Everything will work better, they say."

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

And the few times he did I wonder what the response was?

"I've had access to a "Beta" Xbox One for the past one and a half weeks, and Microsoft representatives have repeatedly reminded me that the software I've been using isn't final. The system software has been regularly updated during my time with the machine, and there'll be one more update released in time for Friday, the day the console is released. The games will be updated, too. Everything will work better, they say."

I read that part. I was just thinking out loud, because I doubt I'll ever know the actual number of calls he made.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

"I'm not sure I really want to talk to my TV all day." I'm not a console gamer, but if I was, this would be a deal breaker for me. I'm talking all day at work, talking to friends and family at night and on the weekends. I DON'T want to talk to a box when I'm trying to relax. Especially when it only works even 80% of the time.

This was a great, in-depth review. Wish all reviews were this comprehensive.

Yes it was a good review but if all reviews were as comprehensive as this would you ever get get anything done else done?

1 person liked this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Alright I'll agree with that last statement, that complaining about how you have to talk to it when thats a base concept of the device is rather lame, and I did sort of forget that when I argued viper.

The device IS a huge step forward in entertainment systems and the author admits that. I think, then, its only fair that all the bugs DO get pointed out because no one really has experience with anything like it.

But now that I read your post and look back, I can say I agree in the sense that complaining about the feature itself when it was advertised as part of the console (as in, talking to the console) is ridiculous.

MS are trying to pioneer a new way in home entertainment and you've gotta give them kudos for that. It could be a success or a failure. I think it can be a success if they manage to iron most of the bugs out but having said that if I were buying a game console that's exactly what I'd want, a game console, preferably one I didn't have to talk to. Personally this gizmo is not for me but I can admire what MS are trying to do.

Guest said:

Very clear interesting and honest review. Here in most countries of Europe , an important market for the Xbox brand, the whole tv integration will not be used. The tv's here come with build in tripple tuners (Cable, Digital air and Satellite) and most newer ones even have 2 of those 3. Recent tv's have gesture and voice control build in and record to a USB stick. The xbox one will not be able to integrate with that.

If Microsoft want it to take center stage in other markets than the USA, they will have to provide a media center capability so it can stream audio / video from a NAS device any other SMB share. And yes that includes the .MKV files.

Also sadly missing but I guess that will be corrected soon, is a youtube application.

My conclusion is that for other markets than the US the whole tv integration concept is just not usable because it already is integrated here in the tv itself. The console will be just another game console specially with both next gen consoles not being able to stream video with dolby/dts and subtitles from a NAS device.

Ill see what steam makes for a game center and then make a decision.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

We're all Bard the Bowman.

That's about the only thing that I got from this review.

treetops treetops said:

To bad its 720p

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