My pre-order of the Xbox One arrived on Monday and I’ve had a little time to play with it. I mostly got the device for Forza which I love. So after a couple of days with it, here are my first impressions.
Let’s start with the Operating System. It’s gorgeous and fluid. The switching between apps is really impressive. While it’s missing some features from it’s 360 counterpart, I find it really satisfying.
Then there are the games. At launch like any platform the number of games is limited but so is my budget. Of course I started with Forza and I like it a lot. It’s missing some stuff I liked in previous versions but the game looks amazing. You can tell it’s next gen. While playing Forza, I wanted to start with the Game DVR feature. Xbox had to push out the Twitch support which would have been great, but you can record clips (up to five minutes) of your games and download them to the SkyDrive for sharing. This is an amazing feature. The Upload Studio app (free) let’s you do some simple edits and recording voice overs and even from the Kinect camera to go with the game videos. Here is a quick edit of five instances of my bad driving for example (in 720p):
One caveat here is that I did have trouble getting the SkyDrive download of my videos to work. Support didn’t fix it. It seems that it was in a subdirectory of “Pictures 2” and now it works and is pretty quick to get at the videos on my laptop.
One game feature that is key for me is the fact that every game will be available through the console store when it launches in retail outlets. I don’t want the disc and case (for me selling the game isn’t worth the trouble). If you do have the disc, you still have to install it so I think of the disc option as being a solution for people with low-bandwidth or metered bandwidth.
The experience of buying a game was really simple (remembered everything from my Xbox 360 account). In fact, the whole game doesn’t need to download before you can play it. I downloaded about 30% of Forza before I was on the track and the download continued in the background.
I also downloaded some apps that I normally use a Roku box for. I found Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video to be all better than their Roku counterparts and faster too. Of course you need an Xbox Live Gold to use them which is unfortunate.
The snap feature is also interesting. The idea of snapping Skype, Netflix or live TV is really interesting but I don’t think I’ll use it much. (Snap is being able to to run an app on the right 1/8 of the screen like on Windows 8.x).
The TV input feature is fascinating to me and sort of works. You see I don’t have cable and I only use my HD Antenna to record shows (e.g. Jeopardy and Letterman). So plugging my TV into the device wasn’t that interesting. At first I thought I’d just route my 360 through this feature so I could save an HDMI port (I was running out) and while it worked, there was a 500ms or so lag which made it so I was dying a lot in Borderlands 2. So that is interesting but not that sexy.
So I switched it up and plugged my 30’ HDMI cable that I use to share my laptop screen with my fiancé when we’re looking at the Internet together. This works pretty well but occasionally it doesn’t keep up and I don’t know why. If we’re playing video (e.g. YouTube which is common) it works flawlessly, but browsing sites it sometimes gets confused about what we’re looking at and doesn’t update it. Not sure why. I am sure it is tuned for video so maybe the big blocks of sameness doesn’t tell it to redraw the screen.
Lastly, I used SmartGlass with Ryse (the only of the games I bought that supported it) and I was impressed with the new SmartGlass:
For a replacement to navigating it isn’t needed, but for games that support it I think it will be a useful 2nd screen. Here is what it looks like on my laptop:
Last short note would be about the Kinect. The voice commands mostly work but the only one I seem to use is the “Xbox Record That” to record the last 30 seconds of game play. Others worked but I don’t see myself using them often. I did play the Xbox Fitness game and as a big guy it was able to detect my legs (which the Kinect 1 couldn’t) so that’s a big improvement. I even played a JetSki game and it could detect when my hands were open and closed. Call me impressed.
Overall I am very happy and impressed with the new Xbox. Recommended.
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