Initial Reaction to Xbox One

Microsoft held their launch event for their next-gen Xbox, dubbed the Xbox One today. I, for One, am very excited!

Most who know me know that I'm not excited much by Microsoft announcements, at least when they pertain to anything PC or tablet related and usually when it's phone-related, as well. But Xbox? That grabs my attention.

While I haven't been able to see any video from the event yet (and simply followed The Verge's liveblog), I've still come away impressed.

Physically, it's actually not much to look at. While it's not terrible, it's not great either. It definitely reminds me of a TiVo. I currently have the Xbox slim, which I think was a huge improvement over the original generation. The One retains some of the visual cues of the Slim albeit with less sexy. I like the two-tone finish but this device doesn't scream "look at me!" As someone who sometimes obsesses over aesthetics, it's a little disappointing that there isn't more "va-va-voom." That being said, this thing looks like a BEAST! This looks like a high-powered device and based on the presentation, it has the internals to back that up.

Microsoft is really trying to take over the living room and they're not hiding it. The One is capable of bringing live TV that's overlays a Microsoft-designed guide over your cable box's GUI. Microsoft has packed a Bluray drive in as well, conclusively showing the end of HD-DVD (not that there was really any doubt.) With an improved ESPN app and new interactive features from the NFL, they're really trying to go after the sports market. I'm not sure they're going to completely crack the code here, but I'm excited to see what happens. Sports have been the biggest thorn in the side of potential cord cutters. The box has an HDMI pass-through that takes the output of your cable/satellite company's box and feeds it into your Xbox. I really like the idea of one set top box that runs my entertainment center. While this eliminates the need for my standalone Bluray player, unfortunately it sounds like I still need to have a cable box. I can't wait until one day that's no longer necessary.

Microsoft also highlighted the role of Kinect and how much it will be used with the One. First, Xbox now comes with Kinect, a big change considering you have to spend around $100 to buy it for the current generation. The new Kinect has 1080p detection, can recognize individual people and even track a user's heartbeat for use in fitness/sports games. Skype will also come in the software for HD group video chats! You can use Kinect to do split screen functions like snapping in live TV while you're doing something else, or pulling in fantasy sports scores while you're playing Madden or watching the NFL or ESPN apps.

Transient

One thing that is slightly bothersome is that Kinect is always on and listening. I'm not sure if it's watching too, but having a device in my living room listening to all of my conversations is a little weird. It's primarily done so that the One can turn on when I say "Xbox power on." But I don't know if I like it constantly listening. Additionally, I've got a setup with a surround sound receiver and other devices and a Harmony remote that I paid good money for. So how is this supposed to integrate with all of that?

We'll find out about games in a few weeks so I won't touch on that. I could write more but ill just wait until we maybe get some more details about it. In any case, I'm pumped. Will I buy one right away? Unlikely, I still feel like there's a lot of good use out of my 360 to be had. Additionally, I had to buy the Slim because my Pro was out of warranty and bit the dust just afterward so the Slim still feels very new to me, even though I've had it for a few years. I'm sure Microsoft will sell a few of these and it looks more compelling than the PS4. I'll get one eventually but not at launch.