Hardware Review: Microsoft Xbox One

  • Publish Date: November 20, 2013
  • Comments: ↓ 14 user comments

Updated 11/22

Microsoft Xbox One game console
U.S. release date: November 22, 2013 | Retail price: $499.99

Microsoft's third Xbox game console—confusingly, titled the Xbox One—is more ambitious in scope than its just-launched competitor, the PlayStation 4, and has had a bumpier path to launch thanks to early gamer-unfriendly plans (since reversed) to eliminate the used games market. While Sony's console is targeted solely at gamers, the more expensive (by $100) Xbox One aims to be an all-in-one entertainment center for your living room, with a greater array of multimedia features than its competitor—think TV, web surfing, phone (via Skype), movies, and more.

Xbox One consoleThe Kinect sensor (including camera) comes included in the box with the new console, and features improved voice commands that you can (theoretically) use to control anything hooked up to the console, including watching live TV (with the Xbox One able to change channels on your cable box, and even turn your TV on) or the built-in Blu-ray player. The system also adds split-screen multitasking, so you can surf the internet or watch TV while also playing a game. One missing feature inside the box is rechargeable batteries for the game controller; if you want to use something other than standard AA's, you'll need to buy it separately. Like the PS4, the Xbox One is not backwards-compatible with previous-generation games. And some online features require an Xbox Live Gold subscription that can run $60/year. Also note that Twitch gameplay streaming will not be available at launch; that functionality should come on line in early 2014.

Key launch titles for the Xbox One include:

How good is Microsoft's new hardware? Below are quotes from many of the reviews for the console itself that have been published so far; we'll update this page over the next few days as reviews are added and updated. If a publication provided a score or grade for the console, it is listed (and converted to our 0-100 scale). For reviews of individual games available for the Xbox One, visit Metacritic's new Xbox One section.

New: Third batch of reviews (added Fri 11/22)

The Daily Beast Alec Kubas-Meyer

It's not done yet. ... It's exciting, because it means the system has huge potential to grow and expand, not just as a game machine but also as an entertainment device. But it's also frustrating, because it means the system feels incomplete. ... When the Xbox One really works, in those moments when the Kinect does exactly what you want it to and you're seamlessly switching from app to game to app, it really does feel like the future. But you should hold off on buying it.

Joystiq Ludwig Kietzmann Updated review

The Xbox One assumes you subscribe to its idealization of the living room: the family encircling the all-singing, all-dancing entertainment peeling out of a dominant television. Your house, apartment or dorm room might not be compatible with Microsoft's vision, and that might lead you to wonder why you wouldn't buy a thing that just plays games. With $500 and an Xbox Live subscription in mind, my advice is to consider the Xbox One not as a pure, personal vector for games, but something that might accompany you and your friends for one long, lazy Saturday.

Variety Marc Graser

Yet while trying to please everyone in the living room, for example, Microsoft is embracing the A.D.D. that's turned us all into a distracted mess, always staring at a screen of various sizes and unable to carry on a conversation with the people around us.

Second batch of reviews (added Thu 11/21)

Eurogamer/Digital Foundry Richard Leadbetter

Microsoft's vision is very different [than Sony's]. It has taken a broader view of the market perhaps not entirely compatible with the needs and wants of the core gamer. It is willing to make the trades on gaming power in order to potentially revolutionise the way we interact with entertainment in the living room - Microsoft is betting that once we've experienced it, we'll never be able to go back. It's a bold gamble, but the key issue is that much of this revolutionary functionality just isn't there right now. The price differential with PlayStation 4 clearly is.

60 The Guardian Keith Stuart

There is much potential here in this big black slab, and there is a lot of functionality still to discover. ... But something about PS4 feels fresher, more seductive, and Sony ended this generation with one of the true great games, The Last of Us. The momentum is there.

90 PC Mag Will Greenwald

The Xbox One offers a comprehensive, powerful experience in both gaming and watching television, and even its imperfect features show remarkable success along with its ambition. If you want a pure game system, the Xbox One is neck-and-neck with the PlayStation 4, and the main factors you should consider are which system has more games you want to play, and how much can you spend. As a media hub, though, especially if you subscribe to cable or satellite service, the Xbox One stands in a class of its own.

USgamer John Benyamine

The television integration is more impressive than I imagined it would be, the OS is light years beyond anything that accompanies the usual Metro-inspired products, and lest we forget it's also a game system. I'll let the games speak for themselves as that will be the true judge of whether or not a system is worth the money, but Xbox One's ability to integrate gaming into the living room in such a quick and easy way may be the industry's best hope of staying relevant to gamers and families that now have more choices than ever before.

First batch of reviews (added Wed 11/20)

Ars Technica Kyle Orland

At this point, the voice control and multitasking functions that are meant to really set the Xbox One apart are just shy of being good enough to really push the system over the top. They're certainly nice conveniences, but there are enough kinks in the execution to limit their effectiveness. Even if those problems are smoothed out with future updates, I'm not sure if these features are worth $100. ... In short, buy an Xbox One if and when there are enough exclusive games to convince you it's worth the expense. ... If you can live without those platform exclusives, though, and if you can do without fancy picture-in-picture and voice commands, look into saving some money on a PlayStation 4 instead.

Boing Boing Rob Beschizza

There's just not an awful lot of fun to be had with it, yet, because games and apps worthy of the hardware aren't there. ... If you need guidance, all I can suggest is to be patient. The Xbox One and the PS4 are similar, and both have unexciting launch titles. If you're not sure which to get, wait a week or two; see what games get good buzz from players as well as critics. If you're not sure whether to get either, there's no harm waiting until there's more to do with the next-gen consoles, period, before making a choice. And if you're waiting for validation on a decision you've already made: go buy it already. The Xbox One is fine.

70 CNET Jeff Bakalar

The Xbox One goes beyond gaming with its ambitious live TV integration, but at launch it can't deliver a knockout blow to the PS4 due to a higher price and uneven voice control. We suggest you wait for improvements, but for now, the Xbox One is better suited to forgiving early adopters.

Complex Michael Rougeau

When all the disparate pieces come together the Xbox one is extremely impressive. You'll be pleased with the new Kinect when you're playing a game and want to look something up on the internet and you can snap Internet Explorer to one side while continuing to play, or when you want to check whether a TV show has started yet without interrupting your movie on Netflix.

Consumer Reports Matt Ferretti

If you're the type of person who splits your focus between gaming and sports or keeping up with TV shows, then this is the console you'll want. If you own a smart TV with similar entertainment features, though, you probably don't need them from the Xbox One.

CVG Andy Robinson

Microsoft wants to win the hearts and minds of the core gamer, and the final Xbox One still has some way to go before that ambition can be fulfilled. ... For consumers who use Netflix and Skype as much as Forza, Xbox One presents an attractive multimedia offering this Christmas. But for core gamers, Sony's package is perhaps more attractive at the moment, with more visually impressive exclusives (Killzone and Resogun are not matched by anything currently on Xbox One) and the options to stream and share game footage straight away.

Destructoid Dale North

This has to be the most full-featured game console offering ever brought to market. ... [But all] of these technologies and features for Xbox One are pointless if there aren't great games to play on it. While future offerings look promising, the Xbox One's launch library is somewhat lacking. There are plenty of interesting experiences to be had, but only a few of the offerings are truly notable at this point. It's clear that Microsoft doesn't have this generation's Halo yet.

Digital Spy Matthew Reynolds

We're very impressed by Xbox One. The multi-tasking and Skype are standout features, and while voice control takes some getting used to, it feels natural and is something we can see ourselves using alongside a traditional controller to quickly jump between different areas of the system.

Engadget Ben Gilbert

The Xbox One may not be exactly what Microsoft thinks it is, but it's still a strong start for a powerful game console. Its sheer speed, versatility, horsepower and its ability to turn on and off with words make it a relatively seamless entry into our already crowded media center. What determines whether it stays there is the next 12 months. ... What's there so far is a very competent game box with an expensive camera and only a few exclusive games differentiating it from the competition.

Fortune JP Mangalindan

If the Xbox One isn't already near the top of your holiday wish list, it should be.

Games Radar Hollander Cooper

If you want to get the system, and need an excuse, go ahead and pick it up at your earliest convenience and you'll find plenty to enjoy. But if you want to wait, you can do so guilt-free until some bigger exclusives drop.

Gizmodo Eric Limer

For now, the Xbox One is one impressive living room box machine—and it more than justifies its $500 dollar price with the inclusion of at least $100-worth of set-top boxitude—but you're going to be better off waiting for a little while to see how things shake out. But—and this is admittedly a sizable but—if the Xbox One can straighten the few little quirks it has with some software tweaks, this thing is going to be unstoppable in a way the PS4 could never touch. It's too versatile, too feature-ridden, too future. So wait, yes. But while you do, go ahead and start clearing out plenty of space underneath your television.

The Globe and Mail Peter Nowak

The fears about games taking a back seat can be put to rest, at least for the time being. Of the two next-generation consoles launching this fall, Microsoft's product easily has the better initial lineup of titles ... The console is in fact a fine games machine – one that will continue to improve as developers get comfortable with its nooks and crannies, the same way they did with its predecessor.

Huffington Post Drew Guarini

Although the One has its flaws, it's important to remember where the Xbox 360 was when it started, and how far it's come. Microsoft will surely get feedback from owners and mold the One into a more perfect version of an all-in-one entertainment system. What they've got now is a nice foundation.

80 The Independent Jamie Merrill

The game play and graphics are clearly a step beyond what the Xbox 360 could offer.

Kotaku Kirk Hamilton

While my inner optimist hopes that Microsoft will eventually get the console working as precisely as they'd like, not everything fits into place as it should just yet. The hardware is sturdy but the software apparatus feels loose, incomplete.

Los Angeles Times (Hero Complex) Todd Martens

Here's a confession about living with the Xbox One for a week: I turn it on constantly. I turn it on if I am watching basic cable. I turn it on if I am using the Wii U. I turn it on if I am using the PS4. I have six devices capable of streaming Hulu to my TV, but I turn on the Xbox One for Hulu. Why? The voice commands. Volume up, volume down, mute, pause, rewind, turning the TV off and on, etc. It's that simple.

Mashable Chelsea Stark

Overall, the Xbox One experience is polished and stimulating, and it sets the groundwork for great gaming in the years to come.

Metro (GameCentral)

Playing around with the Xbox One at home proves to be a slightly underwhelming experience. Not because there's anything wrong with it but because at the moment it really doesn't do that much more than a current gen console.

New York Daily News Ebenezer Samuel

Xbox One is easily the most ambitious gaming machine yet. And that ambition is this machine's blessing and curse.

80 PC World Jason Cross

On balance, the Xbox One is a fantastic piece of technology, well worth the cost of a new iPad. There are some sore spots, which Microsoft will undoubtedly address in the coming months through software updates. Chief among them are the terrible quality of Game DVR recordings, the inability to stream game sessions, and the total lack of social media integration.

100 Pocket-lint Chris Hall

The Xbox One is a hugely impressive package on day one. The interface is well designed and it's easy to get around. he mixture of ways to interacting with the console - from controller, to voice to gesture - mean that you always have options. ... Xbox isn't just a gamers' console: it's a gateway to a multitude of home entertainment, pulling all the strands into one interlinked experience. The future is here and we love it.

80 Polygon

To be clear, Kinect isn't a fully realized product yet. ... But in many ways, the Xbox One's bold direction for the future is well in place. The integration of voice controls and its media strategy are a boon to everyone, and the ability to run apps while playing games is something we now want on every gaming console we have. That it has a handful of strong, exclusive games at launch only supports its legitimacy as a gaming console and not just an entertainment hub.

Popular Science Colin Lecher

Wait. You don't need something to hook up through your TV right now, unless it has games to accompany it, and the Xbox One, as cool as some of its features are, has a dearth of games.

Rolling Stone Evan Shamoon

Xbox One games now look like high-end PC games – unsurprising, perhaps, since the console uses largely PC components. This isn't a bad thing, and the performance you get out of the machine easily bests an equivalently-priced PC.

Shacknews Andrew Yoon

With or without Kinect, Xbox One is a powerful multitasking system that has incredible potential as a true "all-in-one" entertainment device. It's not quite there, though. The app library is still rather limited, and its inability to fully interact with DVR systems will frustrate the kind of user that's likely to use this functionality the most.

70 TechCrunch Greg Kumparak

Even with 8 years having passed, the leap from the last generation to this one isn't quite the same leap in technology we've made so many times before. ... After 8 years, you might hope that the Xbox One would just demolish everything you've seen with the Xbox 360; on Day One, at least, it does not.

80 The Telegraph Tom Hoggins

As a starting point, it's a very good one. The dashboard is dynamic, easy to use and malleable enough that when more content becomes available, you can curate it how you wish. That initial wave of content, while certainly capable enough, doesn't yet have the power to make the console a must-have, especially considering the chunky price tag. Currently an unessential luxury, then, but one with a bright future.

Time Matt Peckham

It's an immature, somewhat glitchy content assimilation engine at this stage, sure, and it shares the PS4's launch game weaknesses if you're coming at it from the gaming side, but if you're an early adopter or already invested in Xbox Live's social ecosystem, think of it more as the jumping off point for a fascinating experiment. It's a risk, but then all product launches are risky.

80 Tom's Guide Sherri L. Smith

The $499 price tag on the Xbox One is justifiable, considering its one-box-to rule-them-all approach. When combined with a cable or satellite TV connection, the One feels like the more exciting and innovative console you'll be using well into the next decade.

Toronto Sun Steve Tilley

Despite the improvements made to the new Kinect, using hand gestures to select things in the on-screen menu is exactly as ungainly and annoying it was with Xbox 360. Until we reach that Minority Report future, stick to voice commands, which, while not flawless, are definitely more consistent.

88 USA Today Brett Molina

The Xbox One is a formidable video game console, particularly with its improvements to Kinect. The experience isn't consistent and some features need fine-tuning. There are also the lingering long-term questions tied to any video game console launch, such as how the gaming library and entertainment options might expand. Plus, PS4 has a clear advantage on price. However, the Xbox One represents a significant leap to the next generation.

78 The Verge

The blueprints are all here. Virtually everything Microsoft is trying to do is smart, practical, and forward-thinking. ... But nearly everything that could be great someday isn't great right now.

VideoGamer

At the moment, the Xbox One isn't blowing us away, but then again, bar Kinect, it's not doing much wrong. It's set itself some high standards, and it's not reaching them at the moment.

Washington Post Hayley Tsukayama

Although it can be easy to overlook the Xbox One's gaming capabilities, they're still at its heart. And the specs are everything that you may expect of a next-generation console and well matched against newly released PlayStation 4. Xbox One graphics are smooth and fluid, with responsive game play and few glitches.

70 Wired Chris Kohler

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it's magical, sometimes it's inept; Xbox One is the Ron Weasley of consoles.

Comments (14)

  • FROSTINreviews  

    Ive always had mixed feelings about this console. When it was first announced back in 2013 i hated it. i hated all the ideas they had the choices they were making. But we as fans and we as gamers stood up and spoke out our feelings about this console so they switched everything. After that i liked the console so i bought one for christmas. I was so happy..i had Dead Rising 3 and Ryse and i loved it..then not only 4 days later the console broke..it was defected. I got so mad. So i decided to buy a ps4. And ive had my ps4 for months now and its still great. Now i am by no means NOT a fanboy of sony. If anything i like the ps brand as much as i like the xbox brand. Im really starting to like some of these ideas they have in store for the Xbox One. like a 399 console with NO kinect instead of a 499 console with a kinect. And other stuff. I look foward to buying another Xbox One this christmas. That way they have more time to fix all the defective issues in the consoles. One of the main reasons i got a ps4 was for killzone along side with my xbox breaking. But i was VERYY dissapointed in Killzone..so another main reason im re getting the xbox one is for HALO 2 anniversary and HALO 5. I would play HALO over KILLZONE any day. lol

  • jay_dee_92  

    Love the people who are clearly overzealous Sony fans and then post "reviews" of the Xbox One just to trash it. Get a life.

  • Falcon_D_Storms  

    ONE inaccuracy in the article here: ALL online features require Xbox Gold subscription. Everything. The Xbox One is almost a brick without it.

  • notrdy4nxtgen  

    I got my Xbox one free from Microsoft along with a digital copy of Forza 5.

  • b12arr0  

    I am not a PS4 basher, I have no opinion of it because I knew from the moment they announced it, I was getting an Xbox One. I had an Xbox and Xbox 360(pro, slim, and star wars) before it and have always liked what MS has done with them. I got my Xbox One on launch day at Midnight. I got Forza, Ryse, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin's Creed 4, Dead Rising 3, and Battlefield 4 for it. I also purchased Killer Instinct online. I like all the games with the excepting of Killer Instinct. I didn't care for it at all but that may be because I'm just not into that kind of game. Forza is my favorite of all of them. It's just simply the most fun to play. Next would be Ryse. That game, for all it's bad reviews, is just a good time on a blu-ray disc. As for the Xbox One, this thing works about 98% of the time. Sometimes my voice commands don't work and I have to repeat myself, but not enough to where I'm annoyed. The party chat seemed to have issues on day 2 and day 3 where my friends had to leave the party and come back to actually talk in it. I had an issue with loading games where I had to reboot the Xbox One. Having said all that, this console is the best console I have ever had and I will never go back to my Xbox 360. Powering on the thing with "Xbox On" is great. Controlling your TV mute/volume via voice is cool too. I love the app snapping feature. My absolute favorite feature is being able to pause a game, power off my xbox, power it back on and resume my game where I left off. Once you do it, you're left wondering how you functioned before it. With all my issues I listed, I'm sure MS is at work with patches for the problems people are reporting so I'm not worried. I'm just so impressed with what they have done with this thing.

  • GarrusVakrian45  

    Look at my special edition xbox one http://i0.wp.com/pixelenemy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/XboxVCR.jpg

  • prfsr_x  

    Bought my XB1 at midnight last night. Wow, what a contrast to the PS4 experience.

    Update and install of new xbox firmware took 30 min., it doesn't play games when I set it down vertically with the rest of my consoles. Kinect hasn't worked since I plugged it in. The customer service site wouldn't work on my iPad because it required MS Silverlight to chat with an "Ambassador" (who's aparrantly just another xbox user, not an actual MS support rep), so I had to power up my laptop instead and install an update of Silverlight, and it still didn't work. Finally just gave up and scheduled a call back from MS support even though the wait time was estimated to be three hours. Waited almost four hours for a call back only to be told that their service request system is totally overloaded and I have to call back tomorrow in the hopes of filing a service request for a new Kinect. So now whenever I can actually get through the line of other customers to file a service request I have to send the Kinect in for a replacement and wait for a new one to be shipped to me.

    In contrast the PS4 was updated and I was playing Killzone within 10 minutes. Graphics look considerably better in my opinion (On a 50" THX certified Panasonic Viera Plasma), the home screen is way less cluttered and much easier to navigate. It runs much cooler, works perfectly vertical and generally just appears to be a much higher quality machine.

    Even though all of the problems with the Kinect are a huge turnoff, Forza looks great and I loved the Top Gear style intro.

    The biggest downside for me is the controller comparison. I've felt the xbox had the superior controller design for a while now, but the Dualshock 4 just feels more robust, has a lot of really cool features and looks like a massive evolution in technology from the DualShock 3. The XB1 controller on the other hand (no pun intended) looks cheaper, feels more fragile and is reshaped in ways I really don't understand: smaller buttons and sticks, strangely long triggers, flimsy, plasticky click to the R1&2 buttons and a weird texture at the edges of the sticks. Gotta say, I think the new PS controller is just a much more refined design. The other sticking point for me is that I can plug my DS4 in and charge it right out of the box. The XB1 controller has batteries that I have to pay to replace with a rechargeable pack and cable. I've always felt like MS nickel and dime their customers with stuff like this (and wireless, and proprietary HDs, etc.) and was hoping they's be better about it with this gen. It appears not.

    After all is said and done, I'll probably still keep both consoles in the hopes the exclusive titles improve on XB1, but right now, most of my gameplay will go to the PS4, and for anyone asking me which to pick up for x-mas I'm sending them Sony's way.

  • thenthomwaslike  

    For someone to get the full experience of the console they'd have to buy a cable plan, I am not into the idea of wasting my money on a cable plan when the internet offers everything that cable does plus a million other things, and for someone who doesn't have Internet the console will show up as a 500 dollar wad of useless plastic. I can't say that I would recommend it over a pc, or ps4.

  • RepublicanCorey  

    A amazing next gen console with great games and entertainment and best exclusives than anywhere else

  • varietygamer  

    A well rounded console that does what it is designed to do very well. Not disappointed, yet.

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