Xbox One or PS 4?—Part One: Xbox One for Whole Family

Both Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation4 were released in November. If you have an avid video gamer in your household they probably will tell you their preference. But, even if you don’t play video games, a video game console may be the perfect addition to your home theater.  Which new video game console should you buy— the Xbox One vs the Playstation 4? This week we’ll explore the Xbox One. Come back next week to learn about the Playstation 4 (PS 4).

Not a Gamer? Choose the Xbox One

The Xbox One ($499) wants to be your all-in-one entertainment system to add to your home theater.  Imagine walking into your living room, quietly saying “Xbox on, ” and you’re whole home theater system powers on to the right input (and displays a greeting as it recognizes you).

Great Gaming

The Xbox One is an incredible gaming console. The controllers “rumble” (vibrate) for game feedback. The “Smartglass” game companion app for smartphones and tablets enhances game play. Unbelievably believable (true-to-life) graphics make you feel like you are in the virtual game world. Plus, you can share game play by creating a chat party, or recording game play using the Xbox One’s game DVR and sharing it online (Facebook and other social sites).

Movies, Live TV, and More

It’s Xbox One’s extended entertainment options that make it great for the whole family.  The new feature of Xbox One is its integration with your live TV service. Connect your cable or satellite receiver to the Xbox and you’ll see the “One Guide” enhanced TV program guide. Like its predecessor, the Xbox 360, the Xbox One includes a number of movie and TV show streaming apps—Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, FoxNow, Crackle, RedBox Instant,Ted,Verizon FiOS TV, ESPN Live. View your photos saved to your Windows Skydrive. Or choose to stream music. The Bing search function and a complete Internet Explorer web browser bring the whole web to your TV. YouTube videos can be pushed from a smartphone or tablet to the Xbox One for viewing on the big screen. Here too, the Smartglass companion app makes it easier to type in search terms, logins and web addresses.

The Advanced Kinect Camera for Game Play and Workouts

The magic of the Xbox One is its Kinect camera. The Kinect can see you and recognize you even in a dark room and can be set up to sign you in when it spots your face in the room. The Kinect’s camera is also used for game play and for making Skype video calls to friends.

Looking for a better workout at home? The Xbox One’s Xbox Fitness videos take home workout videos one step further. The Kinect camera can see under your skin. While it may sound creepy, it is used to determine which muscles are being used during a workout. Your thighs light up when you are doing squats.  Like a personal trainer, this feature makes sure you have correct form. Popular videos include P90X, Insanity, Jillian Michaels, BeachBody and more.  The Kinect can even read your heartbeat to track your cardio fitness.

Voice and Gesture Control

Kinect’s biggest benefit is that it makes voice and gesture control possible. After telling your Xbox to turn on, most navigation and playback can be achieved by telling the Xbox One what you want.  For example, “Go to Netflix,” opens the movie service. Making a fist to “grab” the screen drags and scrolls through menus and movie grids. Once you find the movie, tell the Xbox One to “Play,” “rewind,” etc. Say, “Watch TV” then ask  “What’s on (a particular channel)” to see the TV program guide, or tell the Xbox to tune directly to your desired channel name (e.g., “watch HBO”). The only limitation is that the Xbox One cannot access your cable or satellite DVR.

Multi-tasking is a “Snap!”

Lastly, the Xbox One can multi-task. Look up info on the Internet while watching a TV show,by “snapping” Internet Explorer to a sidebar. It an also be used for Skyping with friends while playing games or watching TV, for keeping an eye on the football game while killing zombies in Dead Rising 3, or any combination of tasks you can think of.

After spending a few days with the Xbox One, I must admit there is a learning curve for using the voice and gesture commands (particularly if you are used to the Xbox 360, as the new commands and gestures have changed).  The included speech and gesture tutorials make it easier. As we have seen on the Xbox 360, we can expect updates to use more of the Xbox One’s potential.

Barb Gonzalez ~ The Simple Tech Guru

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