Is the Xbox One for you?
Microsoft's Xbox One is easily one of this year's hot-ticket items (along with the PS4 and that creepy Elmo doll thing). Many will rush out to stores simply because they need the newest piece of technology -- or think they need it anyways. But do you really?
At $500, the Xbox One is quite an investment this time around. Assuming you can actually go out and find an Xbox One this holiday season, one must first ask themselves these three crucial questions before purchasing one.
Are you truly seeking an 'all-in-one' entertainment machine?
The Xbox One is about more than just games. Since its initial reveal, Microsoft has touted the system's ability to focus on all aspects of the living room – video games, music, television, movies, etc. With simple commands you can switch instantly between playing a game to watching TV and back again. Xbox One's Snap Functionality even allows you to do both at once. Say the command and the Xbox One will split your UI into two windows, essentially allowing you to multitask. Want to watch your favorite football team while playing Madden NFL 25 simultaneously? You can do that.
Not all of the functionality is in place, but Microsoft has made its vision clear. The Xbox One is an all-in-one machine, but unless you really plan on taking advantage of all of these features, there isn't much sense in dropping the $500.
Do you mind the Kinect?
Unlike the Xbox 360, the Kinect comes hand-in-hand with the Xbox One (already in the box). Although the peripheral is no longer required to have the Xbox One function, it's clearly a big aspect of what Microsoft considers next-gen. Many of the Xbox One's features have been built around the Kinect's facial and voice recognition. Even the Xbox One's user interface is far easier to navigate with voice commands instead of traditional controllers.
Again, the Kinect isn't required, but it's almost a necessity. To really get the most out of your Xbox, and the extra $100 the Kinect is costing you, you better be sure you don't mind talking to or waving at your machine. Don't let rumors of the NSA spying on you convince you that the peripheral is evil, either.
Are specs a big deal?
A lot of fuss has been made about the Xbox One's power – or lack thereof compared to the PlayStation 4. On paper, the PS4 is clearly more powerful. We've seen a little of that power reflected in the launch games. Call of Duty: Ghosts on Xbox One, for example, runs native 720p and is upscaled to 1080p, while the PS4 version is native 1080p. Is it a noticeable difference? That probably depends on the viewer, but there's clearly a disparity between the two systems.
It's hard to tell if this will really make a difference in the future, but in the present it appears the PS4 is more powerful. For hardcore gamers (read: fanboys), this is a big boasting point, but for the average consumer, I'd pay more attention to the lineup of games than the resolution they run in. I've always been a proponent of gameplay first, graphics second, but even on that end, many of the next-gen games are lacking innovation (for both consoles, mind you).
To be honest, not much is changed between the Xbox 360 and Xbox One -- in terms of ideas. Towards the latter half of the Xbox 360's lifecycle, you sort of got the idea that Microsoft was heading in the all-in-one entertainment direction, with use of Kinect. The Xbox One just further emphasizes the point. Yes, the graphics are better and the Kinect is undeniably more reliable, but the same core values exist on Xbox 360.
Do you plan on upgrading to the Xbox One this holiday season?