Just a week after Sony introduced the PlayStation 4, Microsoft is releasing its new video-game console. The Xbox One, successor to the hugely popular Xbox 360, will be available Thursday at midnight. As we did last week with the PS4, we’ve created a list of five pros and cons to upgrading to the Xbox One, based on pre-release info from Microsoft.
All-in-one console: While the PS4 is a game console that doubles as an entertainment hub, the Xbox One is set up as an entertainment hub that can play video games. Connect your cable or satellite signal to the Xbox One, and the console will handle TV programming, including adding NFL extras to augment live games. You can do two things at once with side-by-side pictures, such as having a video chat using integrated Skype while you watch a streaming movie.
Voice control: Tell the Xbox One what to do — “Xbox on” — and the console does it. This even extends to TV-remote functions and Web browsing.
Going Blu: The Xbox One finally adds the ability to play Blu-ray discs — the high-def format pioneered by rival Sony — which the Xbox 360 wouldn’t do.
Better controller: Microsoft boasts that it has made 40 improvements to its new controller vs. the one for the Xbox 360. It fits more comfortably into hands of any size and responds more intuitively while playing games.
Xbox Live: Microsoft’s pay-for-play online network is a proven, reliable service for multiplayer gaming, streaming and more.
No backward compatibility: The Xbox One won’t play Xbox 360 discs and isn’t compatible with most of the previous console’s controllers and accessories. If you bought one of seven popular new 360 games, including “Battlefield 4” and “Call of Duty: Ghosts,” you can upgrade to the Xbox One versions for $10 each at a Microsoft Store through the end of the year.
Higher price: The Xbox One retails for $500, while the PS4 goes for $400. Yes, the Xbox One includes the Kinect motion and voice sensor, but even after buying the PS4’s similar PlayStation Camera for $60, you’re saving $40 with Sony’s system. At $60, Xbox Live also costs $10 more a year than Sony’s PlayStation Plus network.
Anemic game library: Just as with the PS4, there are few exclusive games for the Xbox One’s launch. The biggest are the eye-popping racer “Forza Motorsport 5,” the survival-horror adventure “Dead Rising 3” and the rebooted hack-and-slasher “Ryse.” The dozen or so other intro games are available for other consoles, too, such as “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” and “Madden NFL 25.”
Subscription required: You know those cool Xbox One features such as Skype, NFL extras, Netflix and Hulu Plus? They require the $60-a-year Xbox Live membership to access — even though the last two also have regular subscription fees from their providers.
Wait and see: It’s the same old song with any new system. The initial games rarely push a console’s full capabilities, and all of those gee-whiz features don’t mean much if they don’t get used. Will you really be talking to your Xbox alone in a dark room when you just want to play “Battlefield 4”?
What it all means
You’ve already decided on the Xbox One if you’re a hard-core gamer. For casual gamers and entertainment junkies, it might be easier to jump into the Microsoft pool right away considering the Xbox One’s scope — as long as you’re willing to pay more for the privilege.