Xbox One Thoughts

God this thing looks huge. That's what she said.

A photo of the Xbox One, stolen off the internet

After a record long console generation (8 years, double the 4 between Xbox and 360) we finally get word of the new Xbox One. The first impression is that nobody in MS marketing knows how to count. We went from 1, to 360, to 1 again. Of course, no first console is called “One” in its lifetime but for the first time ever the numbering goes backwards? Reboot perhaps?

Find how to test hair for drugs.

All jargon aside, the only, and I mean ONLY reason the 360 was called such was because in the battle-that-never-happened of Xbox 2 versus Playstation 3, which sounded better? Remember, consumers are stupid (see the Twilight films). This time around, I think they’re going for a play on words, ie, Xbox One sounds like “Xbox WON”, some sort of subliminal advertising. As Red Letter Media would saw “You may not have noticed, but your brain did”

Click below to read more of my impressions.

MS showed us a lot more in their reveal than Sony did, and by that I mean the actual console and even the insides of it. The guts are almost exactly the same layout as the current Xbox Slim, except the heatsink is larger (they’re taking no chances this time) and it’s a slot-loading slimmer Blu-Ray driver rather than the clunky full-sized PC-style 5 1/4 DVD drive.

Here’s what I see by looking at the photos from Wired:

  • There will be an external power brick. Internal power circuits = heat = failure. After a billion dollars lost, MS is going to be very conservative about this.
  • The design already looks very optimized, a far cry from how the 2005 model 360’s looked.
  • The chip under the Blu-Ray is the Southbridge, the IC that takes care of IO ports, controllers, communications, etc.
  • The 8 digit LED’s are probably developer debug.

MS used a lot of buzzwords in their speech today, none of which matter because the big question on everyone’s mind right now is “Can it play used games?”

Here’s my guess for how it will work:

  • You buy a game at the store still because a) There isn’t enough broadband to support 30 gig games b) Retail stores want physical games to sell OR a high markup on hardware (Apple)
  • You install the game to HDD before play (like PC has done for seventy million years)
  • You can run the game off HDD without the disc. Let’s face it, installing to HDD but still needing the disc on 360 is fairly lame.
  • The game loads incredibly faster and streams much better textures because developers don’t have to dumb down the data rate to what a DVD can do.
  • Your Blu-Ray drive is barely used, increasing the reliability of the console (RROD aside, the DVD was another larger failure point on the 360)
  • When done with a game, you “de-activate it” from your account (like switching iTunes or Adobe to a new computer) and then take the disc to the upscale pawn shop known as Gamestop.
  • You wonder why the HDD is only 500 gigs when a Blu-Ray install will take 10-20 gigs thus limiting you to around 20 games total installed.
  • You also wonder why used games are such a big deal when Apple and Steam make money hand over fist, with absolutely no way to resale.

Used games sales are one of those “can’t see the forest for the trees” situations. For decades publishers worried about piracy, all the while Gamestop was cleaning up with the used market. Suddenly there’s this new, phantom menace and it’s not the one you spent so much time worrying about. See also: Concern about kids playing violent games when the real issue is childhood obesity caused by a sedentary lifestyle. (Soda doesn’t make you fat, Soda + Inactivity does)

If [anywhere but South Korea]’s internet was up to the task, we’d have download-only console already, completing solving the used game “problem”. But we’re not there yet, so we’ve got to deal with a disc/interest based solution. Cracking down on used sales is one of those “who blinks first” scenarios, and it looks like MS just blinked. Don’t go rushing to PS4 in revenge just yet, because in their desire to be publisher-friendly (adios Cell!) they’ve probably done the same.

Here are my hopes for this new console:

  • If you’re a media hub, work quickly. My Xbox 360 these days is just a Mad Men / Breaking Bad adapter, and it seems to take 10 layers of menus to open a new episode of Don Draper standing in an elevator.
  • If you’re going to tie a Kinect to every box, I should be able to walk into my living room as say “Xbox, play the latest episode of Pawn Stars” or “Show me the latest movie releases excluding Adam Sandler”
  • Do not have analog face buttons on the controllers. I hack a lot of controllers, and that feature is really annoying on PS3.
  • Fix the D-pad by spending 3 more cents on a secondary PCB for it.
  • Has a new hi-polygon version of Fallout 4 that doesn’t run on older consoles or even my PC.





11 thoughts on “Xbox One Thoughts”

  1. Would you consider the possibility of an XBOX ONE laptop if the opportunity presents itself?

  2. Finally an update on the site!

    the game rental thing is kind of a non issue. it’s not like they are losing mountains of money over this. It also makes playing a game without an internet connection really difficult..

  3. Ever since my TV gained built-in support for Amazon Instant Video I’ve had basically no reason to boot up my PS3. The PS3’s AIV interface is a nicer than my TV’s (especially when watching multiple episodes in sequence), but the overall experience of “turn on TV, watch stuff without a loud obnoxious fan whirring away” more than makes up for the usability deficit.

    Also, it’s a shame that PS3’s analog buttons never even get used to begin with.

  4. I think the name “Xbox One” means a return to its roots. The original Xbox had a Pentium 3 chip and now there going back to a traditional CPU with AMD. No more cell processors. I also hope that if the Kinect is required that it will work in smaller rooms. (4-6 foot range) I currently have to use the Nyko Zoom adapter for the Kinect in my room.

  5. Ben,

    I’ll get a PS4 when/if you stuff the controller into the 360 or Xbox One controller case/set up. Until that happens, Sony’s systems will never be used for gaming by my family. As for the Xbox One; I don’t have cable (by choice), don’t care about what “friends” are doing on Xbox Live, don’t play sports, and don’t even watch my OTA TV. In other words, gaming is still 360 focused until I finally decide to build a new gaming PC after a 10-year hiatus of the hardware side of PC’s.

  6. I know that the state of industrial design is going from smooth curved cases to more angular ones, but that case just makes me think of those noname multimedia PCs cases before Roku and Boxee boxes took over.

  7. Your position surprises me Ben. You obviously care about playing old games, but the Xbox One will eliminate that market in the future. Because the system requires an internet connection as soon as Microsoft stops support of the system it becomes useless, you can’t play any of the games on it. Every game that is Xbox One exclusive and not popular enough to port to future systems will be unplayable in 15-20 years, it will effectively be erased from existence.

  8. I agree, that case is gay. Absolutely no aesthetic value. Alienware makes cool looking cases, as does Digital Storm. I don’t play games much anymore (‘course, I’m 41 though) – but if I did care to, I’d just as soon fire up an N64 or Original XBox (I own 2 original XBoxes, BTW, but sadly sold the N64) and play some old-school games that are fun. Didn’t need internets, XBox Live, PSN, or any of that crap. Could play with the kids or friends and have loads of fun, or by oneself. Hell, I’d be fine with MW3 on an old Pentium Celeron running at 400mhz, connected via LAN to another one with a worthy opponent. Wait, got that too, now that I think about it…..Hmmmmmm……

    Sure, the graphics have come a long, long way, but the REAL fun is whooping up on your buddies, or in the case of a classic multiplayer game that is still awesome (Gauntlet) WITHOUT 2013 graphics capabilities, whooping up on the monsters with your friends. I’d rather have the original Gauntlet arcade game than a new console, as I’d play the sh!t out of it and have a blast.

    Maybe M$ could focus on making a machine that looks cool (like the original XBox did), is reliable, can do more than just play games, and is easy to use. I’d buy a machine if it could replace all of these: Cable box, DVD player, Blu-ray player, desktop computer, game console, DVR, could connect to the internet (both wired and wirelessly), print to my wireless printer, browse the internet, let me add apps/software, save files, play music, watch videos, and pretty much do everything I need like 5 different devices for. That will likely never happen though…..guess I’d have to build it myself. 🙁

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