The Xbox One wants to be the one system that handles all the entertainment in your living room. Movies, music and, of course, games, it's set up to do it all.
From streaming apps to cable integration to Microsoft's own services, the Xbox One certainly seems equipped to do it all. We're just glad Microsoft bit the bullet and put a 3D-enabled Blu-Ray drive in its system. The Xbox One also plays CDs, something the PlayStation 4 currently doesn't do. Still, can the Xbox One really handle the potentially backbreaking load of the living room?
OneGuide and HDMI-in
The Xbox One can integrate external feeds thanks to an HDMI-in port. But unlike America, where this means an impressive integration of software and hardware, in Australia it simply becomes like switching your TV to another input.
Ultimately, OneGuide only works as a Freeview EPG and a navigation option for streaming apps. The OneGuide menu is accurate, but not fast. Scrolling quickly often gives you an empty menu that needs a few seconds before the listings pop in. If you only watch a few channels, the OneGuide's favorite list will serve you well, and if you're just want a "best of" option, Microsoft will start offering a curated list of content called "What's On."
Using Kinect commands with the OneGuide can also be a headache. While it easily understands page up or page down, telling it to go to specific channels can be rather inaccurate. It often tripped over all the different acronyms that make up station names, and sometimes struggled with something as simple as Comedy Central.
The Xbox One is also hit or miss with 5.1 sound integration. There's some extra configuration you have to work through, and while we were able to get it running, others have reported that it degrades sound quality, or just doesn't work at all. That part of the service is marked as in beta, so Microsoft is working on it.
Lastly, while that HDMI-in is meant for TV, you can use it for anything with an HDMI port. Before you get too excited, we should tell you that it's slightly too laggy for gaming. Forget about playing Killzone: Shadow Fall or Super Mario 3D World via the Xbox One, it's a much better experience plugged directly into your TV.
When consoles aren't playing games they're often streaming movies, either through Netflix, TenPlay or SBS On Demand. While it's still waiting on some key apps, the Xbox One wrangles that functionality by letting you search for programming across all your services, as well as your cable.
This runs through the Bing search function. Either by typing or talking to Bing, you can ask it for, say, Breaking Bad. The search results show you all the places where you can see the sad saga of Walter White (which isn't the best example, as Stan has the streaming rights in Australia and Stan doesn't have an Xbox One app. Yet.)
For Australians, there are more apps missing than are present. While the Telstra TV has come out of the gate with a united streaming platform, on the Xbox One after two years you only get Netflix, SBS On Demand, Yahoo!7 Plus 7, TenPlay, Foxtel Play and Quickflix.
There are other quite a few global options, like Crunchyroll and Crackle, to name a few, but for Australians the lack of Stan and ABC iview means the PS4 definitely has the streaming edge here.
What about users who have their own media collection? The Xbox 360 offered users numerous services to stream movies and music from a local server to their system, but until now Xbox One gamers were forced into using the proprietary Microsoft media player app. Plex, a service similar to XBMC, will be the next generation of media center apps - and it's available only on the Xbox One starting in October.(Editor's note: We'll update this review once we've set up our own media server and tested the software.)