The Xbox One wants to be everything to everyone. Games, movies and music, its lofty ambition is to put all your entertainment in one box.
Does Xbox One truly make you master and commander of the living room, or is it all more trouble than it's worth? Allow us to break it down.
The Xbox One has the stronger launch lineup. We had a blast mulching hordes of zombies in Dead Rising 3. Ryse is an excellent showcase for the system's graphical prowess, though the gameplay does get repetitive. Forza Motorsport 5 is a visual feast with plenty of depth and pairs nicely with the Game DVR feature. Both systems have a similar crop of third-party offerings, but the One's exclusive games feel more distinct and original.
Kinect is great for simple commands. Saving gameplay footage, quickly pausing a movie, answering a Skype call, all these features work smoothly and make for a convenient and fun interface. Kinect is also surprisingly good at hearing you over the TV.
Xbox One's gameplay video sharing is less locked down than the PS4's. Xbox One doesn't keep a running video archive like PS4, but it does grant you a lot more freedom with your footage. You can upload right to Skydrive, then download the an MP4 of the clip and do whatever you like with it. The PS4's sharing is limited to the PSN or Facebook, with no actual access to the file.
It's the best place to see TV alongside streaming media. Being able to perform a Bing search for a show and see when it will be on next as well as the places to rent or buy it is fantastic. While the Xbox One's media integration isn't perfect, there's no other system that brings this kind of service to your TV.
The interface is fast and customisable. The system comes out of standby in less than thirty seconds, and menus move as fast as you can manipulate them. We also loved the convenience of Pins, which let you keep almost anything just a click away.
You're getting your $50 worth. The price difference between the PS4 and the Xbox One is big. While a lot of gamers would rather put that money towards more games, another controller or Xbox Live, and we really can't blame them, we feel that there are $50 worth of additional features on the Xbox One.
Snapping apps makes for poor presentation. Performance-wise, the system can handle two programs admirably, but there are very few apps you'd actually want running side by side. TV and a game seem like the most common request, but the result is a visually cramped experience, and a jumble of audio. This is a feature better suited to Windows 8, where the mouse and keyboard make it easy to resize windows and alt-tab between the two.
The TV integration needs work. For a start, we need support for FTA TV at a minimum, with Foxtel shortly after. Either way, the OneGuide menu doesn't populate as quickly as your DVR's native menu. The Xbox One doesn't always play nice with 5.1 sound from cable, but Microsoft is working on that. Still, home theatre enthusiasts should be hesitant to put Xbox One at the centre of their setups.
The controller still uses replaceable batteries. We really wish Microsoft had copied Sony's DualShock and gone for a built-in rechargeable cell. No one likes searching for AAs when friends come over. Also, the shoulder buttons on the One's controller don't feel as nice as those on the 360.
Kinect commands are very rigid. We weren't expecting Siri, but you have to talk to it in very precise, often unintuitive ways to make it understand. It also failed to register the "Xbox on" command about half the time.
Xbox Live hasn't improved much, and too much is walled off. A Gold subscription is still more expensive than the PS Plus. Sony might catch some flack putting PS4 multiplayer behind a paywall, but it sweetened the deal with free games and discounts. Xbox Live is pretty much the same service it was on the 360, and access to apps like SBS On Demand still requires you to pay up.
Some third-party titles run in 720p. That simply shouldn't be the case. You might need to pause the game and have a look to tell, but there are noticeable differences between Xbox One and PS4 versions, with the PS4 coming out on top. If there's one thing Microsoft needs to sort out in the next few months, it's this.
When the Xbox One was first unveiled to the public, there were worries that it would embody the Jack of all trades, master of none cliche. While the media integration features need polish and Kinect could use a grammar lesson, the most important things are there: good games, a solid interface and reliable servers for hours and hours of online gaming.
From yelling at Kinect to pinning channels and games to sharing uploads from the Game DVR, it's just plain fun to use the Xbox One.
Microsoft's gaming torch has been passed from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One. We're really looking forward to what comes next.