For all its ambitions of becoming a true media hub, the Xbox One is a games console first and foremost, seemingly built around aiding the increasing number of living rooms that see interactive entertainment gracing the big screen more often than TV or movies.
Its home screen is packed with ways to play, share and (perhaps more so than anything else) buy games, not to mention indulge in gaming pursuits while you perform unrelated activities: playing as you use Skype to call disgruntled family members, or keeping one eye on a Twitch stream as you watch TV.
Inside the big black box, Microsoft has included an AMD processor with an impressive 32MB of ESRAM and 8GB of DDR3 memory. Standard models come with a creditable 500GB mechanical hard drive, although all games, disc-based or not, now require an installation, so that will fill faster than you might think, especially when compared to last generation consoles.
The recent Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare special edition introduced the console's first terabyte hard drive, and I wouldn't be surprised to see that become more widespread in the coming year.
Those game installations can provide a small speedbump to playing the game you've just bought, more so than on PS4 in most cases. The disc copy of Madden for Xbox One needed six minutes to reach 25% installation before letting us on the gridiron. The PS4 version needed two minutes, and an additional minute to download a patch before online features were enabled.
While it's not a major problem in and of itself, it's worth taking into account that games are beginning to add major content downloads alongside the installation, simply to ship on a single disc. Halo: The Master Chief Collection requires a 20GB patch simply to access its online features.
I doubt this will become standard, but with day one patches becoming more and more common, I recommend reading up on individual games to avoid any "I want to play now" frustration.
Despite its powerful innards, much has been made of the Xbox One's inferiority to PS4 in terms of graphical capability. Most notably that comes in the native resolution of mutliformat games. Early third-party games tended to output at 1080p on PS4, and 720p on Xbox One. This has been improved on a tad, although not completely.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Metro Redux both run at 900p on Xbox One compared to the PS4's 1080. Ubisoft even attempted to end the debate by capping Assassin's Creed: Unity at 900p on both consoles, although the resulting furore means I very much doubt this will become standard practice.
It's a minuscule difference to all but the most trained eyes, but more worrying is how certain games include clearly more detailed lighting and textures on PS4. Grand Theft Auto V, for example, loses some environmental detail on Xbox One.
Of course, all of this is in aid of performance, and it's not in vain. Games are almost universally smooth, with short loading times. To the console's credit, the notoriously troublesome Assassin's Creed: Unity ran far better on Microsoft's console upon release.
With advancements already being made, and Microsoft's decision to drop Kinect in favour of optimising processing power, it's not outlandish to suggest that the gap will be closed even further as the console ages. But I simply can't say that it matches the PS4 for sheer graphical heft just yet.
That said, as far as the games themselves are concerned, Xbox One began to outstrip PS4 for exclusives by the end of 2014. Sunset Overdrive and Forza Horizon 2 arrived to bolster the console's AAA catalogue, while the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta gave a glimpse of what Microsoft's classic series will look like later this year.
Added to the likes of Titanfall and Dead Rising 3, the library of console-exclusive games on the One (many of Microsoft's own releases have come or will be coming to PC, presumably to tie in with the release of Windows 10) is currently stronger than PS4. Although the Wii U, while less powerful, retains the most critically acclaimed exclusive line-up.
That's not to say the One's own games haven't included any hiccups. One of Microsoft's tentpole releases, Halo: The Master Chief Collection arrived in a disastrously poor state, and remains fundamentally broken in many areas.
The game, which comprises Halos 1 - 4 remastered with updated single and multiplayer portions of the FPS classics, has been plagued by matchmaking issues since release, leading developers 343 Industries to offer huge chunks of upcoming DLC (including the entirety of Halo: ODST) as free downloads to placate disgruntled owners.
2015 will be a critical year for the console, particularly with regard to its competition with PS4. Both consoles will start to receive blockbuster exclusives this year. Halo 5, Fable Legends, Rise of the Tomb Raider (a timed exclusive, but an exclusive nonetheless) and Crackdown will provide strong AAA competition on Xbox One.
ID@Xbox, the console's indie release programme, will start to produce some underground hits too. Cuphead, SuperHot and Smite and more should start to offer some competition with PS4's traditionally stronger indie catalogue, while Microsoft's work to snare many PC ports as console exclusives should help prevent PS4 from getting any more enticing.
With more and more of the third party industry solely interested in multiplatform releases, choosing between exclusive line-ups rests on one or two games. At this point, Xbox One offers the superior choice, but buyers deciding between Sony and Microsoft's offerings might be better served by looking at what will be out in six months time.
For the One's part, this year will see most of Xbox's best-loved franchises (perhaps with the exception of the new Gears of War, although that remains a possibility) receiving a new installment. If it's familiarity you're after, this is the choice.
It's a testament to Microsoft's sterling work on the Xbox 360 controller that the One's version is merely an iteration (not to mention that Nintendo's Wii U Pro Controller openly acknowledges its excellence by nabbing the design almost wholesale).
While slightly chunkier, and with a grippier matte texture, the basic design remains almost identical. Asymmetrical sticks lend themselves to most games and the various contours have been shaped specifically to help you play for frankly dangerous lengths of time before getting the controller cramps of old.
Unfortunately, that unchanged design still means you'll need a steady supply of AA batteries to keep it running, unless you buy the overpriced charge-and-play kit. However battery life is substantially better than the PS4's quickly-drained Dual Shock 4 as a result.
What changes have been made tend towards minor improvements. The menu button has been shifted to the top of controller to stop accidental presses, and the sticks have been surrounded with what feels like kevlar, a perfect addition for twitchier games.
The new Impulse rumble system, which was introduced to early testers by simulating the feeling of a heartbeat in the centre of the controller, has barely been used besides offering the feeling of some arcade lightgun-like force feedback on trigger pulls. It's something of a gimmick, but a pleasant one, although it does seem to have resulted in triggers that feel a little flimsy when used normally, especially when compared to the 360 equivalent.
It's an improvement in almost every other way, however and, for my money, the best controller of this generation of consoles. While it lacks the Dual Shock 4's more advanced features (touchpad, motion controls, etc.), it's simply a better fit for the hand. Microsoft has even been issuing intermittent firmware updates specifically for the controller, meaning its responsiveness has been improved since launch. That's commitment.