10 reasons to consider Xbox One

10 reasons to consider Xbox One

Reviewing the Microsoft Xbox One launched here only yesterday makes me feel I have been trapped in a time warp.

The reason is that I have used this new-generation console for more than 10 months since a friend brought it home from the United States for me last December. I had to pay $120 for a bulky 500W transformer to convert the voltage from our 220V power sockets to 110V.

So, instead of doing a full review, I will focus on the console's top features and what those still sitting on the fence should consider if they are still deciding between the Xbox One and the Sony PlayStation 4.

1. Kinect

Microsoft changed the world when it introduced motion control in the Xbox 360.

I will never forget how privileged I felt being one of the pioneers to try out the Kinect prototype in Los Angeles back in June 2009. Using my hands and legs to hit multiple ricocheting balls against a wall in a game that eventually became Kinect Adventure was pure magic.

While the Wii was the first to launch motion control, its system was tracking only a controller stick. Kinect was tracking dozens of points on the body.

When Kinect launched in 2010, I was mesmerised. Kinect Sports, Dance Central and other casual games were the talk of the town.

On many nights, I danced past midnight to master the moves. I am no dancer, but I know how to beat a game and I wanted to top the leaderboard in every song my friends were on.

The bigger challenge for Microsoft was to extend the Kinect magic to hardcore games such as shooters. The problem was that Kinect's motion detection was not accurate enough for more granular movements.

The promised dream of slaying Sith and Stormtroopers with bare hands to emulate virtual lightsabers and force powers was a nightmare in Kinect Star Wars simply because movements were not accurate.

Microsoft knew it needed a new and better Kinect. It came up with the new Kinect for Xbox One, which has a wider field of vision and a shorter minimum distance. The new Kinect can track your heart rate by reading the change in colour of your skin as blood pumps through it.

Having played the older games, such as Kinect Sports Rivals and Zumba, as well as the recent Dance Central Spotlight, it is clear that the new Kinect sensor is much improved. When dancing, I can now stand about 30 per cent closer to the camera. This is a big deal because there is limited space between my TV set and sofa.

Unfortunately, there are just too few games that can take advantage of the new Kinect sensor. So far, the games are not pushing the limits of the new sensor, to see if it is better at tracking fine movements than its predecessor.

While the heart-rate sensor is a boon for fitness buffs who want to exercise at optimal level, the Kinect sensor reads the heart rate only when the user is standing still, not while he or she is running.

But Kinect is not all just about games. It lets you use your hands to navigate the Xbox One dashboard. Its array of microphones lets you use voice commands to launch games and apps, without lifting a finger.

The voice command function is impressive, recognising my commands most of the time, even though my diction is not the clearest.

2. Gamepad

This looks and feels like the eight-year-old Xbox 360 gamepad but it has had more than 40 subtle changes which make it much improved.

It is lighter and sleeker, thanks to the integration of the battery housing into the circuit board, instead of it sticking out the back of the gamepad. Without that ugly bump, there is more real estate at the back to provide a firmer and better grip.

Additional tiny motors are now built into both triggers, in addition to the giant ones in the main body of the gamepad. These extra motors are supposed to offer action-specific vibration feedback to add realism to the rumble.

For instance, the vibration on the trigger could be of a different intensity when you are blasting with a shotgun compared with using a sniper rifle. But I did not feel it when I played Destiny.

The right and left bumper keys are now much closer to the trigger buttons, making it easier to move the index fingers between buttons.

But the bumper buttons are so stiff that they must be pressed hard to execute a command.

In Destiny, this slowed me down when I was trying to melee-kill alien baddies.

Another big change is the addition of a microUSB port to the wireless controller. Plug in a microUSB cable and the wireless gamepad becomes a wired controller. This matters to skilled gamers who want faster response in their controls and for users who want to save on AA batteries.

The microUSB port also lets you plug the same gamepad into your PC for PC games.

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