Is The Xbox One Convergence Done Right?
It's not uncommon to have a specialized device for everything you want to do with your entertainment system. Microsoft's Xbox One tries to take all of them, crammed into...one...box, and unify the experience. Whoa.
Consequently, this is a difficult piece of technology to review. It does so many things. It's not until you use it, or at least see it in action, that you can decide if the platform is transformative to the way you spent time relaxing on the couch, dancing, singing, or talking to friends overseas. I'm including Microsoft's own video as the best representation of the Xbox's many applications.
In a way, the Xbox One introduces multitasking to your living room. Where before you switched between inputs on the TV to flip between games, live programming, your Blu-ray player, or even an HTPC, this device puts all of that under one input that responds to your voice, your face, and the now-old-fashioned controller.
It's a convergence of living room entertainment with an interface that's much like Microsoft's Windows 8 UI. Unlike the controversial operating system, however, the Xbox's tile-based interface feels as natural on your TV as it does on Windows Phone. There's also Bing and Internet Explorer, which don't play a major role, but do what we expect of them. SkyDrive might enjoy its highest utilization as it becomes the default repository for recorded media on the console. I still don't use SkyDrive on the desktop, nor do I want my personal documents and pictures living in Microsoft's cloud. But for 30 second of game footage at a time? Sure.
Taking all of the above into consideration, it's actually harder to compare the Xbox One to Sony's PlayStation 4 than most gamers would have you believe. Neither console can be distilled down into its shader cores or memory bandwidth. If you're looking for a dedicated gaming machine, the PlayStation does have a big advantage in its specifications and $400 price tag. But the extra $100 for Microsoft's Xbox One buys you more than just the Kinect camera. It also comes with Microsoft's promise to reinvent the way you enjoy content on your TV, and that's a very compelling pitch.