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August 2018

Xbox One

Platform(s): Xbox One
Genre: Hardware
Developer: Microsoft
Release Date: Nov. 22, 2013


First Impressions - 'Xbox One X'

by Adam Pavlacka on Nov. 4, 2017 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Xbox One is Microsoft's all-in-one gaming and entertainment system that puts you at the center of all your games, TV, movies, music, sports and Skype.

Pre-order Xbox One X

The Xbox One X is an interesting piece of hardware to review, simply because there are so many facets to the console. You could look at it from a hardware perspective, a software perspective, pure specs, home theater performance, or from a gaming angle. The Xbox One X is all of these at once, yet it is also part of a family of systems, which means that some of the improvements are shared with the Xbox One and Xbox One S. That familiarity is one of the system's strengths.

Much like a setting up a new Windows PC, booting up the Xbox One X for the first time immediately feels familiar. Yes, there is a short new startup animation, but aside from that, this system could easily be an Xbox One S. The menus are the same, and the UI is the same. At first glance, there is nothing here that screams "new system." Navigating the UI feels a little snappier, but then again, we haven't yet completely filled the hard drive on the console. Doing that on the original Xbox One made the UI feel like it was lagging at times.

For anyone not on a gigabit Internet connection, one of the best new features is the network transfer ability. This allows Xbox One consoles of any variety to copy (most) installed games and apps back and forth over the network. It is a feature that was created for the Xbox One X, but it's just as useful on the Xbox One and Xbox One S. Reading a game from an Xbox One topped out at around 275 mbps, which is similar to the max download speed that a gigabit user can expect from Xbox Live. This is a huge plus for anyone with multiple Xbox One consoles in the same house — doubly so if you are on a metered connection.

Given that Xbox One X patches just started rolling out this past week, we're going to hold off on a final verdict for a few more days (after all, what is a console without games), but what we've seen so far is promising. It's important to note that Xbox One X-specific games are much bigger in size, so you'll probably want to have an external hard drive handy. The increased game size will quickly eat up the extra drive space. On a fresh format, the Xbox One X only has 780 GB of free space available for games and apps. Even at this early stage, the 1 TB hard drive that comes with the system feels tiny and cramped.

If you plan on doing any video capture work with your Xbox One X, you're definitely going to need that external hard drive; it's the only way to get 4K captures off the system without springing for a dedicated set of very expensive capture hardware. Capture time is limited to five minutes, but that should be plenty for memorializing those perfect moments on YouTube.

Despite the limited hard drive space, there is no option to skip the 4K assets when playing on an Xbox One X, even if you don't have a 4K TV. At first, this may seem like an odd choice, but it's not, as the new console does supersampling, which is a technique that PC gamers use to get better on-screen visuals. Instead of rendering the game at display resolution, the game is rendered internally at a higher resolution and then reduced for display. This has the effect of a more realistic image, even at a lower pixel count. As a result, an Xbox One X enhanced game running on the new system will look better on a 1080p TV than the same game running at 1080p on an Xbox One or Xbox One S.

In addition to the anemic hard drive space, the other notable omission with the Xbox One X is the lack of a Kinect adapter cable or any announced program to provide one for Xbox One X buyers. Yes, Kinect production recently stopped, but two Kinect-compatible games were released this week, and anyone who owns Fantasia knows it is an amazing game. As it is, expect to shell out an additional $40 for the cable, which doesn't even pass through IR blaster commands, according to the site.

All of this brings us to the console itself. From an industrial design perspective, the Xbox One X is an incredibly sexy beast. It has a minimalist design that looks like an evolution of the Xbox One S, but with some key tweaks to improve upon an already good base. The most important of these changes is the fan placement. Unlike the prior Xbox One consoles (and even the Xbox 360), the Xbox One X has no fan vents on the top of the system. This means there is no risk of overheating should you stack game cases — or another console — on top of the system.

Looking at its physical size, one would expect the Xbox One X to be about the same weight as an Xbox One S, but it's not. The console is deceptively weighty, with a noticeable heft to it. When picked up alongside the Xbox One X, the Xbox One S feels like a cheap plastic toy in comparison. Even with its dense design, the Xbox One X appears to be the quietest Xbox console yet.

We're going to spend some more time with the Xbox One X games and streaming services this weekend, and we'll have more thoughts on the system at the beginning of next week. So far, so good though, as first impressions with the retail hardware are positive, and the faults are more nitpicks than deal-breakers.

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