The Xbox One, Microsoft’s next-generation entertainment console, is like a hidden treasure box or a new foreign city.
Mostly, this is because the Xbox One, like every piece of technology, is multifaceted. It’s not built to do just one thing. Instead, Microsoft made sure it packed in all the right ingredients for a long and productive life cycle into the console.
For gaming there is the robust 8-core processor and graphics system. When paired with a decent television, some games look absolutely stunning and even life-like. Though it doesn’t necessarily feel as nice as the Xbox 360 controller, the Xbox One controller is an engineering marvel in its own right. It comes with two rubberized joysticks and internal rumble motors that developers can program to make Xbox One’s gaming experience that much more realistic.
Every single activity, whether it’s playing a video game with a controller or watching television, is enhanced by the Kinect 2 sensor that’s included with the Xbox One. Make no mistake, this isn’t the Xbox 360’s Kinect. This version includes a high-definition camera for Skype calling. This version is so accurate that it can actually monitor user’s heart rate. This new Kinect Sensor also includes a very, very useful upgrade over its predecessor: it used to be that Xbox gamers had to keep their television remote nearby to change raise or lower volume or turn their television away from its input channels. That’s no longer the case, as the Kinect 2 sensor includes an infrared transmitter that can talk directly to audio equipment and set-top boxes.
There are so many features packed into the box that new buyers take home for $499 than many of them are often overlooked. Above all the others, here are the three that deserve the most attention.
You’ll find that there isn’t a shortage of users all claiming that Microsoft abandoned the core gaming market with the Xbox one and focused too much on enabling new experiences for those outside of the gaming crowd. Let’s put that argument to the side for now and focus on what really matters.
Everyone who is leading a healthy lifestyle, including gamers, do more than just play video games, and it seems one of America’s fastest growing past times is exercising. Today, a lot of people pay a gym membership to get in a work out. That’s because they’re either not comfortable exercising outside or really want the expertise of a trainer to help them lose weight and stay active.
Today, the Xbox One can provide users with a total gym experience for free with Xbox Fitness. Xbox Fitness starts by monitoring a user’s pulse and mapping their muscles so that it knows what exercises they need to focus on most. For the motivational personal touch, the service includes enhanced videos from famed fitness personalities like Jillian Michaels, Tony Horton and Shaun T. The entire time these videos are running, Kinect is monitoring the user, looking to make sure that they’re doing the exercises correctly. All told, Xbox Fitness brings an almost perfect gym experience to users home at absolutely no charge – provided that the user already has an Xbox Live Gold account. Users who are looking for specific workout personalities can purchase individual videos from their favorite instructors.
Control Your Television
By now you know that the Xbox One can control televisions and audio equipment. For most, this functionality alone is well worth the Xbox One’s price. To date, no other entertainment console has tried integrated live television in this way. Having to find a remote is one of the living room’s most unpleasant chores, after all.
That functionality is cool, but it’s when users combine it with the OneGuide that things get a lot more interesting. Consider this scenario: a user arrives home after a long day of work. They really can’t wait to just sit on the couch and watch their favorite program. With the PS4 users would need to walk up to the television or find the remote, turn the television on, remember the number of the channel they are looking for and finally change the channel.
Xbox One users simply say “Xbox, On” and all that magic happens on its own. The console itself turns on an audio system, a cable box and a television. Users can then say “Watch…” and the name of the channel to be taken to automatically. Or users can say “Xbox OneGuide” and get taken to a list of television shows and movies that are airing or will air in the future. The latest Xbox SmartGlass mobile app update also allows users to browse through the OneGuide on their smartphone or tablet too. No input switching required.
Despite what appears to be intentional efforts from Microsoft to not let users find out, the company owns Skype, one of the world’s largest audio and video calling services. For the most part, this hasn’t been much of an advantage for Microsoft’s products. Skype is available on the iPhone, Android devices and even Google’s Android operating system.
That’s not necessarily the case with Microsoft’s Xbox One. To be clear, the app that Microsoft includes on the Xbox One isn’t exactly that robust. Users can’t snap the app to the side of their screen and video chat with their friends and family members at the same time as they play their video games or watch television.
That’s ok, because it does allow users to place audio and video calls, and everyone who picks up an Xbox One gets to do both of those things at absolutely no charge for the first year. That free subscription only comes with 60 minutes of calling time for landline phones a month, however users can video chat and call user’s Skype accounts on their smartphones, or other devices, absolutely free. More recently, Skype added the ability for all users to group chat at absolutely no charge, too.
These are just three of the small features that the Xbox One includes that’ll probably change the nature of the living console forever. Sure, the Xbox One might look like a hard-core video gamer’s paradise from afar, but up close it’s becoming every bit the all-in-one entertainment and communications experience that Microsoft promised it would be at last year’s Xbox Revealed event.
The Xbox One is available on store shelves right now for $499.That price includes a bundled copy of the Forza 5 racing simulation or Titanfall, the console’s latest high-profile multiplayer game.