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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