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Xbox One review

How is the Xbox One faring a year later?

Our Verdict

The Xbox One is a fantastic console, and with a few more updates and games it could become a must-buy for media-savvy gamers.

Product features

  • Processor Core : Octa-core (8 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Fast and powerful interface
  • New Kinect is impressive
  • TV and streaming, side-by-side
  • Strong launch lineup
  • Easy video sharing

Against

  • Live subscription required for Netflix, etc
  • Snapping apps is clunky
  • Controller still uses batteries
  • Some third-party games not full HD
  • OneGuide is slow

With the Xbox One now a year old, a re-evaluation of Microsoft's console is in order to see if time has given it a chance to overcome its initial teething problems. How has it improved? What hasn't it fixed yet? Has it finally become the next-generation games console that we deserve?

Microsoft knows its console got off to a rocky start, which is why it's been so good at listening to gamers' concerns over the past year and really taking them on board.

Now that the Xbox One has had time to find its bearings, will gamers finally be ready to embrace it like they did its competitor? With November 2014 sales figures showing the Xbox One outsell the PlayStation 4 in the US and UK for the first time since launch, all signs point to 'yes'.

Xbox One review

The Xbox One is not just a games machine, it's also a clever and powerful media hub designed to sit at the centre of your digital home – or at least it would be, if Australians had access to many of the features that overseas Xbox users are currently enjoying.

Regardless, the last year has seen the situation improve for Australians in many ways, and not just in terms of streaming media content. That's not to say that the console can rest easy – there's still a long way to go until we see Xbox One's full potential.

It's quite the legacy to live up to. For long stretches of the last console generation, the Xbox was king. While the Wii was everywhere, and millions of gamers and AV enthusiasts eventually picked up a PlayStation 3, for a while there the phrase "let's play some Xbox" was almost interchangeable with "let's play some video games."

It was the console that brought Xbox Live into maturity, setting the standard for the online experience on a gaming console. It taught couch gamers to tolerate the tech support look of a headset in exchange for voice communication, and that you get what you pay for: a year of Xbox Live Gold might have cost as much as a game, but the service was more robust than Sony's PSN.

Xbox One review

The original Xbox One release date was 22 November 2013, launching with the new version of Kinect on board by default. These days of course, Microsoft is offering a Kinect-free option, which has proven popular because of the bundle's cheaper price and higher performance. The standard Xbox One console can now be purchased for about $499, while the version with Kinect costs about a hundred dollars more.

Make no mistake though, Kinect is baked deep into the Xbox One experience, with voice and gesture controls at the heart of everything should you choose to use them.

So if you're not going to play a game, you don't need to use the excellent gamepad to turn the console on or navigate to your entertainment of choice.

Design

The first thing you'll notice about the Xbox One is what an absolute beast it is. It measures 274 x 79 x 333 mm, making it longer and taller than a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox 360. You don't need a tape measure to figure that out though, the thing just looks huge.

Xbox One review

Its size and girth harkens back to the original Xbox, an imposing black plastic beast covered in black plastic ridges. Microsoft seems to be throwing back to that design, bringing back the all black and the ridge-covered aesthetic.

Xbox One review

When you first take the Xbox One out of its box, you'll notice an eyesore of a sticker next to the Blu-Ray drive, asking you to kindly not move the system while a disc is inside.

Xbox One review

A good warning, as that can damage a spinning disc in any system, but an ugly sticker - luckily it comes off nice and clean. We also have a hard time imagining that gamers will be moving their hulking Xbox Ones very often, especially since the system is also not designed to stand on its side.

Xbox One review

It's massive size and black rectangular construction evoke a stereo tuner from the nineties. Its imposing bulk begs to be hidden away, with just its slot loading disc drive exposed, little white Xbox logo glowing in lonely TV cabinet darkness.

Xbox One review

Flip the machine around and you'll see a plethora of ports. It has all your standard nodes: ethernet, HDMI out, power, S/PDIF (commonly used for optical audio), dual USB 3.0 ports and an IR out. Additionally, there are two proprietary ports, one for hooking in the Kinect, and an HDMI-in, which is how you feed the Xbox One your cable or satellite signal. There's also a third USB 3.0 port found on the system's right side.

Xbox One review

The HDMI-in can function as a passthrough and let any old HDMI signal in. There is a slight input delay though, which puts the kibosh on dreams of playing PS4 or Wii U games through the Xbox One.

Kinect

If the Xbox One leaves behind one memory in gamers' minds, it will likely be of the Kinect. Some love it. Some hate it. Others still don't get what it is and why it was necessary.

No matter what camp you fall into, Microsoft has given you a choice whether you want Kinect in your home. Starting in June, the Kinect became an optional peripheral rather than a mandatory pack-in.

But you'd be losing a lot of the One's most unique features and showroom wow factor if you chose to buy the version that comes Kinect-free.

Xbox One review

The new Kinect is a whole lot bigger than its predecessor. It's also designed to sit in front of your TV, rather than perched on top of the screen like the PlayStation Camera. It's too big and, presumably, delicate for that.

Just like the system itself, it has a white light up logo on its right side. Dull red lights from its IR blaster intermittently glow when it's active.

Xbox One review

The underside of the Kinect has rubber feet that provide a firm grip. It's not going to fall off your entertainment centre any time soon. It can also tilt up and down, with enough range of motion that there shouldn't be any trouble finding the right angle for your living room.

Tech Specs

Product TypeGaming Console
Hard Drive Capacity500 GB
Processor ManufacturerAMD
Graphics Controller ManufacturerATI
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeBlu-ray Disc Player
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
USBYes
HDMIYes
Product FamilyXbox One
Gaming Controller ConnectivityWireless
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
Brand NameMicrosoft
Input Device TypeGame Pad
Processor CoreOcta-core (8 Core)
Graphics Controller ModelRadeon
EthernetYes
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Graphics Processor Speed853 MHz
Online NetworkXbox LIVE
Channels7.1
ManufacturerMicrosoft Corporation
Product NameXbox One Gaming Console
Processor Speed1.60 GHz
Processor TypeJaguar
Product LineXbox One
Manufacturer Part NumberXBOXONE
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.microsoft.co.uk
Marketing Information

Be amazed.

Welcome to a new generation of games and entertainment. Where games push the boundaries of realism. And television obeys your every command. Where listening to music while playing a game is a snap. And you can jump from TV to movies to music to a game in an instant. Where your experience is custom tailored to you. And the entertainment you love is all in one place. Welcome to the all-in-one, Xbox One.