A month with the Xbox One

32 days ago, I managed to buy an Xbox One console at a local GameStop store in Greenville, South Carolina. I joined the many people who bought over one million units of Microsoft's latest game console in its first 24 hours. Since then I have been using the Xbox One every day and on the whole I am still very pleased with my $500 purchase, with a few caveats.

I thought I would break down what has been good and what has been bad about my Xbox One experience one month after its launch:

The Good

No hardware issues: This may sound like something trivial but the first shipment batches of a new game console can have a few lemons, as a few buyers experienced with the Xbox One thanks to some faulty disc drives. Of course, many gamers still remember the Xbox 360 launch in 2005 when far more poorly made units were shipped at first, resulting in Microsoft taking a $1 billion charge to fix the problems.

I personally had two Xbox 360 consoles fail before getting one that worked reliability during its first year. Thankfully, the Xbox One bought a month ago has not exhibited any such glitches. Hopefully, the console will stay as functional as my seven year old PlayStation 3 unit that I purchased at its launch.

The TV integration is very cool: Being able to watch my Denver Broncos on the big screen TV while checking up on the rest of the league every Sunday with the snapped NFL app is pretty sweet. I was expecting to see some visual lag when connecting my cable TV box to the Xbox One but so far the picture quality on my 42-inch plasma has been solid.

New games and updates keep popping up: I will admit to being a big fan of Peggle 2. Popcap's casual game was released a few weeks ago as a timed Xbox One exclusive and trying to achieve all of the objectives for each level is a near obsession. I have yet to download and purchase Max: The Curse of Brotherhood yet but plan to do so over the Christmas break. I am definitely looking forward to playing the just released Halo: Spartan Assault Xbox One port with the new two player co-op mode.

New content updates to Xbox One launch titles are welcomed as well, including the new Ryse: Son of Rome maps that were released last week and the changes to the Forza Motorsport 5 economy that should make it easier to gain access to the faster cars,

Family and friends are enjoying the new console: It's one thing to play the Xbox One by yourself in the living room. It's quite another to have family and friends drop by to play games as well. At the moment, the favorite titles are Just Dance 2014, with its six player Kinect support, and Zoo Tycoon, which is a hit with the younger family members that drop by to play.

The Bad

Updates, updates and more updates: In addition to Microsoft's first post-launch Xbox One firmware download that was released earlier this month, there have been scores of updates for Xbox One games and apps that all appear to be bug fixes. Again, this rush of downloads is perhaps to be expected, thanks to the console now becoming available to millions of people and more issues are found. Still, it's a little annoying to have to download new updates every day.

Kinect functionality is still not where it should be: As I mentioned in my recent review of the Xbox One, the Kinect voice command features on the Xbox One are a bit hit-and-miss at times. Sometimes it takes several tries for the Xbox One to go to its Start screen when I say "Xbox go Home". You would have thought the console would have "learned" what my voice sounds like by now.

The Xbox One and Kinect take up a ton of space: The console itself is pretty big and having that black monolith take up so much space on my living room television perch takes some getting used to. Add the Kinect sensor, which is bigger than the one made for the Xbox 360, to the mix and it's clear that Microsoft did not design the console for entertainment centers that don't have a lot of square footage.

The included headset is just not comfortable: While it's great that Microsoft changed its mind and included a headset with all Xbox One consoles, it's very hard to position the headset to a place on my particular head that feels like it will be comfortable to use for hours. I look forward to when Microsoft releases its promised adapter that will allow older Xbox 360 headsets that are better designed to be used on the Xbox One.

More Games

In my Xbox One review I reviewed all of the Xbox One launch games that Microsoft published for the console. Since then many of the third party publishers have sent over some of their Xbox One titles and I have purchased some of my own. I have not yet had a chance to play every one of them (there are just so many hours in a day) but here's a quick rundown of the games I have played.

Peggle 2: As I stated earlier, Popcap's sequel to its popular casual game is highly addictive and fun. The physics-based game is composed of 90 percent skill with maybe 10 percent luck. If you own an Xbox One, this is a must-have.

Call of Duty Ghosts: Infinity Ward and Activision's latest game in the long running first person shooter series is starting to show its age. The single player campaign feels all too familiar, even with its post-apocalypse setting, and the game's last generation graphics really need to go up several notches. The new sci-fi alien invasion-themed Extinction mode is admittedly goofy but it's the portion of the game that's the most fun to play.

Need for Speed Rivals: Forza Motorsport 5 may be more realistic, but developer Ghost Games and publisher EA have crafted a fun arcade open world racing game that never gets boring. The Need for Speed franchise has had its up and downs over the years but thankfully this newest installment is in the "up" column.

Just Dance 2014: This is a perfect party game for family and friends to play. The Kinect integration is well handled by Ubisoft and you can even upload videos of you and your friends playing the game to others via the Uplay service. Adding a Karaoke mode to the game is a nice touch for those of us who don't dance very well.

Over the Christmas-New Years week I plan to play other Xbox One games I have either bought or received for review like Battlefield 4, Assassins Creed IV Black Flag and more and will write up my thoughts on those games in a future follow-up article.

Conclusion

If you are getting an Xbox One this week as a holiday gift, I predict that you will have a lot of fun playing around with the various games, apps and features. The best tip I can give you for the best Xbox One experience are to have a lot of room available to place the console and the Kinect controller in your living room, bedroom, den or gaming room. Also, purchase and download Peggle 2. You won't regret it.

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