Hands On: Xbox One
Posted by Ken Barnes
Up close and personal.
At a small building in London’s Waterloo area on a bright and sunny Wednesday, Microsoft decided to give the UK press their first taste of the Xbox One. Spread across three floors, the event showcased Kinect, Forza Motorsport 5, Kinect Sports Rivals, Ryse: Son of Rome, Killer Instinct, FIFA 14, and Dead Rising 3.
Demonstrators were on hand when it came to most of the titles, with the press contingent being able to get their hands on each of the games in turn. We rocked up just as the smallest cheeseburgers in the world were being handed out by the waiting staff, but decided that we’d forgo the refreshments and jump right on in.
Outside of the games themselves, we didn’t get to play around with the interface or really take an in-depth look at the Xbox One console itself. However, we can tell you that the units that were on display (which we’re told are identical to what the retail units will look like) are absolutely huge at first glance. We found ourselves debating whether or not the machine itself was larger than the first Xbox. It clearly isn’t as tall, but it certainly looks like it takes up as much - if not more – shelf space than Microsoft’s first entry into the console market.
Also of note was the size of the Kinect device’s cable. Gone is the relatively standard wiring of the old version. That’s been replaced with a beast of a cable that looks more akin to a VGA cable. We’re told that the wider cable is needed to transmit the masses and masses of data that Kinect is processing. We’re no experts on this front, so we just nodded in agreement, there. The wiring feels relatively heavy and that brought up concerns for us with regards to placing Kinect above your TV. Providing there’s enough slack, it shouldn’t cause a problem, but there’s certainly enough weight to pull the device backward if placed relatively far away from the console. Some of the machines on show had the Kinect device placed above the TV, but for our money, didn’t look sturdy at all. We don’t know exactly how long the in-pack cable will be, but extension cable manufacturers will undoubtedly already be getting their money-barrows ready.
From what we did see of the console interface, everything zipped along incredibly quickly. Flicking between dashboard pages was instantaneous, and there wasn’t a hint of delay when the demonstrators jumped into a menu. In the Dead Rising 3 demonstration, the demonstrator forgot to push a button and their demo tablet running SmartGlass lost connection with the console. After pushing that button, the two were synchronised in what must have only been a shade over two seconds. We didn’t have our stopwatches out, but it was noticeably faster than connecting SmartGlass to your Xbox 360 is now.
The purpose of the event was more to show off games than the console, but we were impressed with what we did see of the machine. And “see” is the operative word, given that even in the closed demonstration rooms that were otherwise noise-free, we couldn’t hear a peep from the console itself. Of course, all the demonstrations would have been playing from the HDD, rather than from a Blu-ray disc, so we can’t comment on how loud that bad boy is.
Obviously, when the Xbox One is connected to Xbox Live, we're expecting the interface to slow down a little. The consoles we saw were all offline, so weren't subject to network issues or delays. We can tell you that the interface when offline is most definitely quicker than the dashboard on an offline Xbox 360, and you can take that to the bank.