Some quick first impressions of the Xbox One

The big black box that is the Xbox One isn't exactly stylish.

As I posted earlier today, I got extremely lucky and managed to get an Xbox One console on launch day, without a traditional pre-order. So what's it like having Microsoft's third generation game console in my home? Glad you asked.

The following article is a hypersonic skim of my impressions of the Xbox One, after just a few hours of setting it up, playing games, and watching movies and TV using the product. I will say up front that I am not experiencing the issues with disc drives or scratched cases that a few Xbox One owners have reported.

While the Xbox One will eventually make its way to my main living room, for the purposes of this article I set up the console first in my bedroom because it was faster to do so than the rather more difficult task of rearranging my living room TV set up. After plugging in, I turned on the unit and my TV screen showed the Xbox One logo ... and it kept showing it, and showing it and showing it.

"Oh crap", I said out loud. Thoughts ran in my head like, "Is the console stuck in setup mode? Is the Xbox One that I paid over $530 (price + taxes) for not going to work out of the gate?" As it turned out, things were fine, After about three minutes, the screen finally changed, showing me that I needed to download install the "Day One" update of about 503 MB.

Downloading and installing the patch went without a hitch and after another extremely long period of seeing the Xbox One logo on screen again, I finally got to the proper set up page where I could get my Xbox Live account plugged in and my Kinect sensor working, among other things.

After that, I got to see a quick montage video of games and services for the Xbox One before it took me to the main Home screen. I was all set. So what to do first? Play a game? Download some apps? Watch TV inside my Xbox One? Why not do all three for this first impression article.

The Xbox One does have an external power brick but at least it's not as huge as the one for the first Xbox 360, shown above it.

Here are, again, some quick thought on the console. This is not a proper review ... that will come in the near future:

  • The look of the console itself celebrates function over form. It's basically a big black box with a slight cut on the bottom so that it's not a total rectangle. The PS4 does have an angular design that is a bit more stylish. However, the Xbox One ran quietly compared to my old Xbox 360 and doesn't seem to generate as much heat. The console does have an external power brick but, as shown above, it's not nearly as massive as what the original Xbox 360 came with.
  • The Kinect functionality is pretty neat. Being about to turn on the TV and console just by saying "Xbox on" may never get old for me. The ability to say, "Watch Syfy" so that the TV turns automatically to the Syfy channel is especially sweet. However, I can't help but feel that camera on the Kinect is a little creepy looking. I know it's just a camera and there is nothing to really fear, but maybe Microsoft could have made some changes to make the sensor look less than a prying eye in my room.

"Good morning Dave ... I mean John"

  • So far, I have only played a few CPU rounds in the free version of Killer Instinct but it seems to be a solid fighting game. I have yet to try out the free demo of Kinect Sports Rivals. I am pretty shocked that Angry Birds Star Wars is priced at $49.99 for the Xbox One; that seems excessive.
  • The Xbox Fitness service looks pretty interesting if you want to work out at home; it offers a number of free downloadable video workouts combined with several paid add-ons that are priced up to $29.99
  • You actually have to download apps so that the Xbox One can play Blu-ray and audio discs. The Day One update doesn't even enable these basic functions on default.
  • The design of the dashboard is pretty familiar stuff, if you have installed the most recent UI changes on the Xbox 360. The Snap functionality is perhaps the biggest change. Being about to watch TV and snap in Internet Explorer is pretty cool so far.

The overall design of the Xbox One controller does not deviate much from that of the Xbox 360.

  • Microsoft might have spent a lot of money to design the Xbox One controller, but in my hands the only major change is that the battery bump on the Xbox 360 gamepad is gone. I would have liked for Microsoft to have also done away with the AA batteries set-up in favor of the battery built into the controller like the DualShock 3 and 4 from Sony but that's a minor quibble.
  • Every Xbox One comes with a code for 14 free days of Xbox Live Gold, which is good news. The bad news is that if you are already an Xbox Live Gold subscriber, you can't add those 14 free days to your account until your subscription expires.

Again, these are very fast impressions; two of our editors, Chris White and Anthony Tosie, did the very sensible thing and pre-ordered their Xbox One consoles months ago. Expect a full review from Neowin soon.

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To me the bumpers are difficult to access and the sticks feel loose, it's harder to be more accurate because there is no resistance on the sticks. This is just from spending 15minutes here and there at various kiosks. I thought it was a problem with the one I was using at first but it feels the same no matter which setup I try.

I thought taxes to online purchases have gone through for the US on the whole? At least, I'm used to it already being in Texas where sales tax is already applied.

Taxes on online purchases have always been everywhere. You're just required to pay it yourself if they don't collect. If you haven't been then you can be prosecuted for tax evasion.

Has anyone had any problem getting it to respond to "xbox on"? It works but not always.

I did find if you favorite channels on the onguide, they get priority with the voice. I kept saying "watch science" and would get Starz. I put science on the favorites and now it always come up.

There work good for me overall except turning it on. I think it's something to do with how the lower power mode works, because I've found if I give a larger pause between "xbox" and "on" it works better.

Yeah, it doesn't really seem to respond to a conversational cadence, you have to be very deliberate when giving it commands, and even then it has trouble understanding things like channel names (TBS = CBS, AMC = A&E, FX = EPIX, CNN = TSN, etc)

That's to be expected. When we design telephone systems with voice, we try to pick prompts that don't sound similar. I think pretty much everyone uses Nuance for this stuff. The computer doesn't actually recognize speech but returns probabilities for certain words, and you have to narrow it by context. Computers just aren't good at the pattern recognition that human brains do so easily.

The real challenge I see with this one is it's the first one cued purely by voice that I can think of. Usually you hit a button to tell it to start listening or figure it out by call progress.

Maybe they are ignoring the millionth repeat of the tired and dead topic? It's like the millionth repeat of, "derr...I'm not buying a day because I'll let other people beta test it..der...I'm so smart."

PC gamers enjoy playing on PC, and console gamers enjoy playing on console. Also, people can own and enjoy both. I don't see how this needs addressing, it seems to be a perfectly fine situation.

I have both a gaming PC and an Xbox One, they don't fight or call each other names. It's people that make gaming ugly, they try to make everything a dispute, the platform, the brand, the controller. In "The Art of War" Sun Tzu advises us to carefully chose the battles that you will fight, considering the situation of the world, fighting over games is a pretty poor choice.

Ads on the dashboard again? That really sucks. It's your space, in your living room, no less. Not some public billboard.

Geezy said,
Ads on the dashboard again? That really sucks. It's your space, in your living room, no less.

...where your TV is, which never shows ads.

Are you talking about the store, that the only ad I see? I'm glad it there, has lots of free stuff to download, plus info on the available games. I'd really miss it if it wasn't there.

My TV never shows ads... I haven't seen an ad on my TV for over 8 years. PVR + ad stripping filter on my HTPC, which serves the rest of the house on raspberry XBMC boxes.

Geezy said,
My TV never shows ads... I haven't seen an ad on my TV for over 8 years. PVR + ad stripping filter on my HTPC, which serves the rest of the house on raspberry XBMC boxes.

Get back to me once the unwashed masses are set up in the same way.

I don't care about them. For me, I don't want to see ads, especially on such an expensive system that loves paywalls, and charges for one of its major selling points, the oneguide.

I don't want to see ads on my PC desktop, tablet, or my console. Or anything else if I can help it. I leave them on for web browsing though, since those aren't services I pay for directly, it seems only fair.

First impressions with the NFL app on a Sunday - VERY cool. You do have to pull out the controller as I couldn't find how to use everything with the voice commands. My team starts at 4:30, so I'll see how the alerts work.

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