Eight years after the launch of the Xbox 360, the next-gen Xbox One is finally here, promising more power, superior multimedia mastery and games that will blow your mind with levels of unprecedented detail.
Forza Motorsport 5 and Dead Rising 3 are astonishing. And there's the prospect of Titanfall, Watch Dogs and Halo 5 in the future.
But should you buy an Xbox One now? Or should you wait? There are good reasons to support both options... let's start with the reasons to buy today.
1. The Xbox One is a superior media hub
While Sony has stripped out many of the PS3's digital talents to focus the PlayStation 4 on gaming, the Xbox One improves its all-round media mastery. It has a bigger line-up of apps compared to the PS4, including Netflix, Lovefilm and 4OD - BBC iPlayer and Sky apps are in the pipeline for 2014.
The new Xbox dashboard also includes Skype, which uses the bundled Kinect Sensor, and an improved version of Internet Explorer. You can 'snap' apps side-by-side too. Crucially, however, the HDMI input on the back of the machine enables you to connect another video source (like a cable or satellite box) and switch seamlessly between gaming and live TV. No channel-flipping required.
2. Every Xbox One includes a Kinect sensor
By including a Kinect sensor as standard with the Xbox One, it gives Microsoft's console several advantages. It gives developers a reason to include motion functionality in their games and to create more innovative games for Microsoft's system.
While Kinect for Xbox 360 was impressive, the Xbox One version benefits from an increased 1080p resolution and a wide-angle view. Consequently, it works better in lower lighting conditions, tracks movement with scary precision, recognises faces, and boasts improved voice and gesture control. Expect a slew of Nintendo Wii-style party games to take advantage of the Kinect 2 post-launch.
3. The Xbox One has the best games line-up
Yes. A statement like this is subjective. But there's no denying that the Xbox One has a strong roster of launch day games. While you can play FIFA 14, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Battlefield 4 on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PS4, the Xbox One is the only place that you can get Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome and Dead Rising 3. These games plug into the proven Xbox Live platform, now bolstered by Microsoft's new cloud computing servers to give games an extra performance boost.
4. The Xbox One uses cloud computing power
A lot has been said about the relative power of Microsoft and Sony's consoles. On paper, Sony's PlayStation 4 seems to be the more powerful of the two and the Xbox One's inability to render Call of Duty: Ghosts or Battlefield 4 natively at 1080p has grabbed the headlines.
But it's not a straight hardware fight. With a new $700 million data center in Iowa, Microsoft is supporting the Xbox One with over 300,000 cloud servers, which can host persistent processor tasks (like AI and lighting) to free up resources on local CPU cores. In the long run, with a connected Xbox One, the perceived performance difference between the new Xbox and the PS4 should be marginal.
5. The Xbox One loves your smartphone and tablet
You don't need to own a Microsoft phone or Windows 8 tablet to add a second screen to the Xbox One. While the new Xbox One SmartGlass app was initially available for Windows Phone devices, SmartGlass will also support iOS and Android by the time the Xbox One launches, turning iPads, iPhones, Hudls and Samsung Galaxy Tabs into connected companion devices.
SmartGlass for Xbox One will support multiple connections too, allow you to view game clips, handle matchmaking and make it easier to chat with your friends or surf the web on your TV.
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