Xbox One: The Reviewening

I’ve now been using my Xbox One for close to three weeks now and I think that’s enough time to move through initial impressions and actually review the unit as a whole.

DISCLAIMER: When I left Xbox work was just completing on finalizing the hardware specifications on “Durango” which would end up being the Xbox One. While a number of public features that made it in and ones that have been announced bear resemblance to features I specced out over the life time of the Xbox 360, I had no direct involvement in what eventually shipped as Xbox One. I also do not own a PS4 yet so this review is strictly just my thoughts as a consumer who paid $499 for a new console. I purchased an Xbox One because I believe Xbox LIVE is still the gold standard in console interactivity and my existing investment in the platform through achievements, etc.


One of the more interesting things about this generation is that both major manufacturers in this release cycle have chosen to go with commoditized hardware, meaning instead of a custom designed processor platform they have chosen “off the shelf” solutions from AMD. Much will be made over design choices such as “ESRAM over GDDR5” etc or the GPU choices between the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One. In the end I doubt there will be a massive difference in the end result of quality of games until much later in the cycle, much like it took years to eek out the performance advantages of the Playstation 3’s cell architecture over the tri-core PowerPC platform of the Xbox 360. For now, out of the gate it would appear Sony has the edge in that several key cross platform titles run at a full 1080p resolution instead of being scaled. However I’m not totally convinced yet that’s going to be a standard situation. Both platforms rushed to market.

Unboxing the Xbox One is a simple affair, the packaging is neat and tidy and while some people might complain about the plain look of the box, I love it. I want my electronics to be as simple and unobtrusive as possible. This is one of the reasons I did not like the white Xbox One launch console. The sleek black squared off look of the Xbox One is appealing and the size of the case and knowing the heat dynamics of the hardware platform they chose indicates they left plenty of space for heat dissipation.

Connect the power, HDMI out, HDMI in if you wish (I hooked my 360 to it, more on that in a minute) and the Kinect and you are ready to boot up.

My setup wasn’t quite so simple as I had not prepared my home theater for getting the new Xbox. So this required rewiring some HDMI, moving my old 360 over to a new spot, then hooking everything back up to make sure it worked. All told from unboxing to power on was about 20 minutes.

First Experience

Right off the bat the nicest thing about the Xbox One is how quiet it is compared to the last generation of consoles. I’m sure 8 years from now I’ll be complaining the next generation should be quieter but the difference is immediate. Pairing your controller is also simplified, you put the controller in pairing mode and the Xbox automatically detects it.

Prior to really being able to do anything with the box required a mandatory 500+mb update which took about 10 to 15 minutes for me to get. I have a lot of Internet connected devices in my home and while it was downloading I was doing other things online so that most likely impacted the saturation on my 7mb line. Once the update was installed I ran through the simplified initial setup to connect my Xbox LIVE account, select instant on, Kinect sign in, and Kinect calibration. All told that took about 10 minutes.

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