Xbox One: know your console

Melissa York
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Everything you need to know about the long-awaited sequel to the Xbox 360

TV and video signals from set top boxes such as Sky, Freeview and Virgin can be fed through the console so you don’t have to switch inputs between gaming and watching TV. But British users have experienced compatibility problems, complaining of a “juddering” picture because the console is set to broadcast at a US frequency.

Seemingly designed to blend in with the other shiny, plastic things in your living room (TV, stereo, DVD player), the Xbox One is a triumph of functionality over fashion. It’s 13.1 inches deep, 10.5 inches wide, and 3.1 inches tall with only a glowing, white Xbox power button and disk drive.

The Xbox 360 gamepad was universally lauded as a giant leap for gamekind. The Xbox One wireless controller comes with Impulse Triggers that promise to bring explosions and sharp jolts to our fingertips for more realistic gaming and, thanks to an upgraded Kinect, the controller tracks who is holding it so additional gamers can simply pick up and play.

The Snap function nurtures your inner multitasker, allowing you to use the voice control to open other apps mid-game. So you can zoom around a racetrack to your favourite album, watch TV while running a zoo, or talk to your mum on Skype while you destroy a zombie army. But apps will take up a portion of your screen while they’re open.

The Xbox One sold 150,000 units in the UK on its opening weekend – selling double the amount the Xbox 360 did when it launched. The older console shifted just over a million units in its first month when it launched in the United States in 2001 but market research firm HIS expects the Xbox One to smash the 2m mark by the end of 2014.

Incredibly, the Kinect 2.0 cost £46 to make – almost as much as the Xbox One’s core processor. New features include voice control, a 1080p camera and biometric scanning. This means it can recognise different members of the same household to allow multiple people to control the console. Microsoft says the voice command has a 95 per cent accuracy rate but some users claim it’s more like 75 per cent.

One of the main concerns for committed Xbox fans was how much more expensive the console is compared to the Sony PS4. The Xbox One will set you back £429.99 while the PS4 is considerably cheaper at £349. But according to market research by HIS iSuppli, it costs Microsoft around £289 to make an Xbox One, around £55 more than the PS4.

The console may not be as edgy-looking as the PS4 or as pretty as the Xbox 360 but it’s now a comprehensive, multi-entertainment system. New software like SmartGlass enables you to use a Windows 8 device as a second screen and download apps including on-demand video services such as Netflix, LoveFilm, 4OD and BBC iPlayer.