I really didn’t want to jump on this bandwagon, but it’s the only thing on my mind at the moment. Obligatory biased console article, go!
On May 21st, the Xbox One (or X1, or Xbone, or useless DRM machine; whichever name you prefer) was revealed to the general public. I needed to put a date on that, because I want my articles to be timeless. Immediately after the presentation, I got the distinct impression that many people weren’t ready to jump up and buy the thing.
Personally, I got psyched about the Xbox One. Super psyched, even. This machine was everything I wanted out of a console. As I talked to people about it, though, I started to realize that people want different things out of the next generation than I do. If only I had a public place to relay why I’m planning to buy the X1 in an organized manner…
Oh right. Here. So let’s go through what I love about the X1 from what we know so far in a sectioned article format!
Also, go ahead and leave your opinions in the comments. Actually, don’t go ahead and do that. Read the article first, and then be sure to understand that I’m not trying to convince you that the X1 is the console you need to buy this holiday season. I have literally no reason to care about what console you buy. Odds are, we want two different things out of our consoles, and that’s fine.
Part I: Multitasking
This is probably going to end up being the biggest section, as I absolutely love the concept of multitasking. They weren’t very specific at the reveal, but in the Architecture conference they held shortly after, they went into a little more detail about how the X1 is going to handle multitasking.
The X1 is basically split into two different virtual machines when apps and games are running side-by-side. Both of them have resources of the console dedicated specifically to themselves, ensuring that apps don’t negatively affect game performance. What does this mean for you as a consumer? Well, on a base level, it means that you can have games and apps running at the same time without causing slowdown in your game.
Remember the Pizza Hut app that came out for the Xbox 360? That was pretty useless. On paper it sounds good, I guess. Gamers like video games and pizza, and now they’re both on one box! In practice, though, it was completely inconvenient. You had to save your game, exit it, hunt down the Pizza Hut app that was buried in the menu, open it, and then finally make your order. At that point, it was really more convenient to get on a computer and order or, heaven forbid, call the pizza place.
That is gone on the X1. The Pizza Hut app can be opened up in parallel with the game you’re playing, and you can order immediately. Suddenly, that has become the most convenient way to order pizza.
Okay, the pizza thing is pretty frivolous. But it works as a good example of exactly how multitasking benefits the consumer, rather than just being a buzzword. The example of running Skype alongside a movie was another great demonstration of it. I voice chat on Skype fairly often, so having that option while I’m playing games on my console or watching a movie is absolutely awesome.
“Well gee, Siege, this sounds a lot like what a PC does!” I’m delusively pretending you say. Well hush, I’ll get to that later.
Part II: TV TV Television TV TV TV
The word “TV” was thrown around a lot at the conference. Here, watch this video you’ve probably already seen:
One of the things I said as rumors flew before the X1 conference was “If this thing has a cable input, I’m definitely buying it.” It’s similar to the WiiU’s launch; when TVii was announced, I thought it was going to be able to take your cable signal and be able to transmit it to the gamepad. Unfortunately, it ended up being a glorified touch-screen remote. It wasn’t entirely useless, but it still could have been much better.
The X1 looks like it’s going to scratch that itch for me. I’m going to have everything I do for my leisure in one box in a way I’ve never had it before. With the HDMI-in on the X1, there are so many possibilities. It could work as a DVR, for example. If I recall correctly, it was said at the conference that TV and games will be able to run side-by-side in some way, be it for hot swapping or literally side-by-side. And that, to me, is awesome.
In reality, it’s not that much trouble to swap inputs on the TV to change between TV and game. But there’s something enthralling to me about having it all taken care of in one box and knowing that, when I exit my game to watch TV, my game will be waiting right where I left off, having paused automatically. Rather than being spread out and working differently, everything on my TV is handled on one device. Speaking of which…
Part III: A Relationship with Your TV
That’s a cheesy title for a section. It’s also the cheesiest line from the announcement conference. Still, it rings true to me. A Tv has a specific function in my life. In order to have a “relationship” with something, it needs to fill a void in your life that nothing else does. That’s what it looks like the X1 will be to me.
Every feature I’ve mentioned loving so far has been standard on computers for years. People have told me that pretty often lately as I try to defend even liking this system. The placement of these features in my life is a big factor in how much I can enjoy them and how much I’ll even use them.
I’m going to have to get a little personal to explain why the X1 having features that I already have on PC is a big deal to me. I’m a bit of a worrier. I will stress myself to death about college, work, or any sort of responsibility. All of these big stressors in my life have one thing in common: I have to deal with them on my computer. It sort of leads to my desk being a place of work and responsibility. That’s why, despite having a fairly robust Steam library, I rarely play games on my PC. It’s also why I’d rather watch Netflix literally anywhere else than my desk.
When I want to watch Doctor Who to unwind, I leave my computer on my desk and go to my living room to watch it. So it would be incredibly nice to have all those entertainment features that my PC has available on my TV. Now, of course, I could always hook my laptop up to my TV and get those features, but since my computer is used for more than just my enjoyment, I’d need to unplug it whenever I needed to take it somewhere else, and drag it back to my TV whenever I wanted my relaxation fix. That’s a major inconvenience that could be easily fixed my the X1.
Another option is to get a dedicated media PC. Price aside, it comes with its own issues. It comes with a lot of setup for things that may not work for infinitely many reasons. I tried to set up a media PC once before, and I was met with hassle after hassle trying to get it working properly and seamlessly. Did I make some mistakes setting it up? Perhaps. But it doesn’t have to be that difficult. The X1 is going to be a standardized machine that I can expect to simply work. And if it doesn’t work, I have someone else I can blame. It’s easy, and it’s a simple-to-use centerpiece for my living room setup.
Wow, this article has been a little light on the laughs… I’ll try to make up for it next time.
The X1 announcement certainly wasn’t perfect. They had no new games to show (although they promised there will be plenty more at E3), and it’s easy to think that the presentation was pointed at someone other than yourself. However, Xbox focusing on games during this presentation seems like it would have been a mistake to me.
As a gamer, you’re probably already going to buy a next gen console. The console war isn’t going to be beneficial for anyone if both Sony and Microsoft try to fulfill the exact same needs. Microsoft focused on its entertainment features because that’s always been a field in which they thrived. Other than a few exclusives, the X1 and PS4 are going to play the exact same games and, looking at the specs, play them equally well. I certainly can’t blame Microsoft for trying to differentiate itself from the competition.
Besides, they happened to somehow design the console that I have exactly wanted. That can’t be a coincidence. I think Microsoft knows exactly what they’re doing, and we’ll see more focus on the gaming crowd when E3 rolls around.