Much of Microsoft's early coverage of the Xbox One centred on its ability not only to play your games, but act as a go-between for almost every other function you'd want your home entertainment set-up to include.
What's emerged is perhaps not quite what had been promised, particularly outside of the US, but it's been improved regularly and hugely since launch, with monthly system updates offering more and more of what owners demanded.
As a media machine Xbox One is fairly fiddly and compartmentalised, with multiple apps to download as and when you want them. But it's certainly better than any other console on the market, and possibly more versatile than a few dedicated services might like to admit.
Blu-ray and DVD playback
A must for the console, disc format video needs a specific app to run (although you'll be prompted for this the first time you pop in a non-game disc). After some initial hurdles - the console had to be updated to run 50Hz playback for UK TVs, and the picture quality has been improved with patches - disc playback is now hassle-free and a good alternative to most dedicated players.
Anyone familiar with the Xbox 360 DVD functions will recognise the bare-bones, but eminently functional strip of options that constitute the console's playback menu. It's a neat way to combat the lack of a dedicated remote, but you can also use SmartGlass to turn your phone or tablet into a remote. Or you can use Kinect voice commands to control much of the experience, although there's no way to navigate menus using the camera's microphone at this point.
Add to that the patched ability to play 3D Blu-rays, and the fact that Xbox One's standby mode and multi-tasking means you can switch app or turn off playback entirely and return to precisely the point you left, and the console's an extremely competent player.
DLNA and Plex
Personal media streaming is becoming more and more important to consumers and, following several updates, Xbox One is becoming more and more adept a machine at performing the task.
USB playback has always been available, and has been improved with the addition of support for many more file formats, including MKV, which was clamoured for at release, and has still not been added to PS4. But it's network streaming that sets the console apart.
DLNA has been a robust addition to the console and, in my experience, is a truly excellent feature. Currently, there are two apps that can perform the job. The superb Plex, a service that organises your photos, music and videos into a pretty, Netflix-alike library, is a small download and of minimum fuss to set up. To use it on Xbox One at this point, however, you need to take up the Plex Pass premium subscription service.
Your free solution is the console's own media player app. It's a far less elegant addition, with an ugly menu system, and requiring you to download several different apps just to play the various file types. It's also clearly designed for interaction with Windows 8. I had to bypass several niggly obstacles just to connect it to a Windows 7 PC. All of this said, once set up, performance is snappy and of good quality, proof that the DLNA architecture is sound.
With further updates, the opening up of Plex to non-paying users, and the recent announcement of Windows 10's interactions with the console, you should expect to see media streaming become even better as time goes on. Those willing to put up with some hassle will find a functional player already there.
Another beneficiary of Microsoft's constant updates has been the Xbox One's app store, particularly when it comes to streaming programs. It's been a slow start, and there's still a long way to go, but it's constantly getting better..
From wide-ranging offerings such as Yahoo!7 Plus7, Quickflix, SBS On Demand and YouTube to niche-interest services like WWE Network, Crunchyroll, GoPro Channel or Vine, there's plenty to watch on the Xbox One. There are several notable omissions, such as Foxtel Go and ABC iView, both much-loved services on 360, but Microsoft continue to promise that they're on the way.
t's worth pointing out the Twitch app in particular, which offers a no-fuss way to both watch the thousands of live game broadcasts and set up your own, using Kinect as both camera and microphone, while Snap lets you watch your hopefully burgeoning chat window as you play.