Dru and I emptied out our pockets and bought an Xbox One. It's partially an early Christmas present for me, and partially a long-term media center investment (that's what I justify the cost as, anyway). I was able to snag an Amazon pre-order just days before it came out thanks to an extra batch of pre-orders Amazon made available, and it came in Saturday morning November 23rd.
What's the big deal?
Why get an Xbox One? Well, I'll say one thing, which is that it's definitely not just for gaming. I'm an avid Halo player when I have the time (and sometimes when I don't), but generally speaking I don't play a lot of video games. I wish played more tbh, because I know there's a lot I'm missing out on and I always feel like a noob when Steam sales roll around and everyone at work gets pumped about it. The Xbox One has some great games - which I'll get to in a sec - but the real compelling part is the ability the Xbox One has to become your one stop shop for your entire living room.
Media Center Features
Here's why it's become our one stop shop for all of our media center needs:
- Includes a blu-ray player
- Runs all our favorite streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Redbox Instant (hopefully Aereo in the future)
- Pulls our Comcast cable TV guide into a vastly superior TV guide interface that allows us to watch TV from Xbox
- Eliminates the need to switch between inputs on our TV, since all the inputs we need are managed by Xbox One
- The SmartGlass app not only allows us to control the Xbox from our phones or iPads, but it can control TV volume (see ya remote)
- Kinect speech recognition is very smart and allows us to turn on the Xbox, open Netflix, and start watching a show without either a controller or the SmartGlass app
- Multi-tasking - You can easily switch between apps, TV, games, and your friends list without disrupting your entire flow
Just to highlight two of my favorite parts, the SmartGlass app for Xbox One is seriously awesome. It's faster and more responsive than its Xbox 360 sibling, and it satisfies the laziness in me because we all know how annoying it is to look for a remote. Your phone on the other hand, you ALWAYS know where that is. Speech recognition on the Xbox One is excellent, too. This is a feature we used frequently with the Xbox 360 Kinect sensor, and loved. And on the Xbox One its responsiveness and intelligence is definitely on another level.
A quick TV guide comparison from Comcast to Xbox One:
It's not even a fair fight. I mean, come on, seriously Comcast? It's like looking at iOS 6 and iOS 7.
The games for Xbox One have been pretty fun so far. Like I mentioned, I'm not a huge gamer outside of Halo, but I wanted to get a few of the signature Xbox One titles to really get a feel for what the thing can do. Plus, my brother hooks me up with a nice discount, so that helps too. To start things out we ordered Forza 5, Dead Rising 3, and Zoo Tycoon. Forza has been fun as far as racing games go, and includes several interesting elements like racing against your friends' drivatars and different games types (classic racing, pass as many cars as you can, and bowling, among others). Dead Rising 3 is where it's at though. Can't wait for Christmas break to really have some time to play. Then there's Zoo Tycoon. Dru's never been much into video games, but judging from her Pocket Frogs, TTR, and Candy Crush skills I bet she'd be a pretty decent gamer chick if she wanted to. Tonight I snapped this pic of her after about 3 hours of Zoo Tycoon. She seems pretty excited about how well her zoo is doing.
To summarize, the Xbox One has lived up to my expectations based on my experience over the past 10 days. If you're due for a new gaming console or if you're looking at new media center / smart TV solutions -- or maybe thinking about both -- then I'd highly recommend looking into the Xbox One, even if you are heavily invested in the iPhone/iPad or Android worlds. The Xbox One definitely delivers and will only get better as more apps and games come to the platform.
p.s. My XBL gamertag is Keletic. I post clips of me killing zombies. And of Dru building zoos.