Customers in European countries lucky enough to be able to use the Xbox One have been complaining about stuttering images when connecting a tuner through the HMDI through function. Since the dawn of time, European TV broadcasts have used 50hz and the Xbox One can only output 60Hz. This causes unwanted issues. With the switch to HD one would think that 50Hz has gone away, but for European TV - even in Full HD - it is still there.
Now, for years, PAL TV sets have been able to display both 50Hz and 60Hz, and most modern games offer PAL60, but because the Xbox One can't do 50Hz, passed through 50Hz images stutter because of incomplete frame rate conversions.
Seems a little oversight of the boys over at Microsoft. So the media centre thing seems to be something that doesn't cause a lot of joy right now. The issue creeps up most with panning and horizontal movements. Sports have been commented on as being unwatchable. Let's hope this can be fixed with a firmware or software update.
With the Xbox One's release this past Friday, November 22, we have the final piece to the next gen console puzzle. Whether you consider the Wii U next gen or not, or that neither the PS4 or Xbox One can truly be considered next gen in the face of a good PC, the fact remains that the Xbox One represented the last major new system we were waiting on for the forseeable future. Certainly the Steam Box will get some buzz once that's released, but price and compatibilty may represent hurdles to the type of adoption both the Xbox One and PS4 have thus far received. Plus, there's the argument - which I tend to agree with - that you don't necessarily gain any benefit investing in a Steam Box over a good PC. Final judgment will be reserved though once Valve's Steam Box initiative gets fully underway.
Naturally, both the PS4 and Xbox One launches can be considered a success, with each selling over 1 million units in the first 24 hours. The Xbox One needed 10 or 11 more countries with which to reach that number, but it was also priced $100 more, and faced similar supply constraints (meaning its arguable both could have sold more if stock was there). Like the PS4 and Wii U before it, a small percentage of Xbox One launch consoles were affected by technical issues, but, luckily, overall, all three seem to be solid hardware out of the gate. That does nothing to soothe those who actually have a unit with issues, but it seems that, based on percentages, all three major new consoles had reasonably smooth launches. To wrap up the sales commentary, if sales don't pick up for the Wii U this holiday and beyond, it's certainly reasonable to think that both PS4 and Xbox One will surpass total Wii U sales by or before June 2014 (as some analysts have suggested), which would also put to rest the idea that the industry's new norm is greatly reduced sales, i.e., the Wii U's sales issues are its own. No matter what, console gaming is still small change compared to smartphones and tablets, but we at least have the potential of still being a very vocal percentage of the technology ecosystem if sales for both the PS4 and Xbox One maintain positive momentum into 2014.
Now, with all that out of the way, I'll provide my impressions of the Xbox One. Since my wife and I are writing a book on the Xbox One, My Xbox One, follow-up to My Xbox, which covered the 360, we needed our usual two consoles: one to play with, and one to keep pristine so we could methodically document the goings on. For now, I just opened up the one to play with.
As I recounted previously, I decided to replace my Asus touchscreen Ultrabook (4/128 SSD, 13" screen, Windows 8.1) and Apple iPad 2 (64GB) with a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (8/256 SSD) and Type Cover 2. My thinking was that the Surface Pro 2 would effectively replace both devices in my man bag. Yes, there would be some concessions here and there, like a smaller screen (~10") than the Asus (which my youngest daughter now uses) and a weak app selection in comparison to the iPad 2 (which now sits on a dock on my nightstand), but ultimately, the increase in portability (a lighter bag!) and convenience of a single device outweighed the negatives.
While I used my iPad 2 for many things, my favorite function was as an e-reader. Since the iPad 2 does not have a retina display, it sometimes required me to zoom in a bit for certain types of reading material not optimized to the screen size (I'm looking at you, UK's Retro Gamer Magazine). Overall, though, it was a great reading experience for me and I've spent countless enjoyable hours in the Kindle app. It was also great to read at the gym when I was doing cardio (which I find dreadfully boring) after weight training (which I adore).
Naturally, the Surface Pro 2 would need to replicate the functionality of the iPad 2 for reading purposes, with the added bonus of its 1080p widescreen allowing for sharper text, which would hopefully translate into no longer needing to zoom in on very small details. Overall, the Surface Pro 2 performed well for me in this regard, though there were some quirks. For one, the iPad 2's screen is a 4:3, square-ish ratio, while the Surface Pro 2's is a 16:9, rectangular ratio. That basically means that the iPad 2 is more enjoyable in portrait mode (like a normal book), while the Surface Pro 2 feels a bit awkward (overly tall) in portrait mode (like all large, 16:9 tablets, really), making the Surface Pro 2's ideal reading mode landscape. Now, this was something I resisted on the iPad 2 because of the lower resolution and screen ratio, but it turns out that landscape (multiple columns) is actually a quite enjoyable way to read when you're doing it on the right device. Of course, I still sometimes read in portrait mode on the Surface Pro 2 - like at the gym - because that's what fits best on the various cardio machine holders with the Type Cover 2 attached (I'd rather not detach it and leave it on the gym floor) - and it's just fine like that, but, oddly enough, I think I now prefer reading in landscape. We'll see how that evolves going forward.
In preparation for working on our upcoming My Xbox One book, Christina and I thought it would be a good idea to check out Microsoft's Xbox One console prior to its official November release. Thanks to the One Tour, we had our chance today in Philadelphia through an Area One party. Basically, what this meant was that we had to pick one of the three hour blocks of time, wait in line, and hope we could get in to experience "live music, live gameplay, and more..." Naturally, we were most interested in the live gameplay part.
Once inside the large warehouse area, we were treated to our choice of multiple game areas where we could sit or stand and play some of the Xbox One launch and launch window titles, which included: Crimson Dragon, Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsport 5, Killer Instinct, LocoCycle, Ryse: Sone of Rome, Max: The Curse of the Brotherhood, Zoo Tycoon, and Kinect Sports: Rivals.
As an unapologetic technophile, I naturally crave the latest and greatest technology. However, somewhat stifling those cravings are the reality of the high costs of new technology, available space, and the needs of my present workflow. In other words, even though I spend a disproportionate amount of my money on technology, my purchases must still be carefully considered for a variety of reasons.
While I have a demanding day job as a Technical Writer, I'm also a professional author and journalist, which requires a certain amount of portability if I don't wish to be chained to a desk for 12 - 16 hours a day. This portability is particularly important to me as I always try to make a point of balancing my working life with my personal (especially family) life.
Before the year is out, we'll have the choice of the latest console systems from the three big manufacturers, with three very different value propositions. I'll briefly break each of the three down, one-by-one, then I'd like to continue the discussion in the comments.
First up, there's the Wii U, relying mostly on the same type of technology found in the current generation's Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles, with its primary hook being its tablet controller that allows for touchscreen interactions and off-TV play, priced between $300 - $350. There's a good chance, despite Nintendo's insistence that they won't or can't, that this will drop in price just before the launch of Microsoft's and Sony's new consoles. I base this on the jockeying Nintendo already seems to be doing, for instance with eliminating the $300 BASIC version of their system in favor of the DELUXE (and no doubt different future bundles). The negatives for the Wii U are that, for various reasons, third party support has already dried up, and there's no evidence that their tablet controller hook has resonated (or will) with the public. There's always a chance for things to change, but right now, I don't see how Nintendo recovers a dominant console position, particularly since there's really nothing that reeks of "next gen" in their forthcoming software line-up. Certainly with their first party software they'll continue to appeal to the Nintendo faithful, and that should be enough to help the platform stick it out for the next few years. Beyond that, it's impossible to speculate, particularly since we don't know how Microsoft and Sony will ultimately fare (it could just be the new norm, in light of smartphone, tablet, and PC competition to have a tough time with traditional consoles and gaming handhelds).
While we had a previous poll and some thoughts and speculation on the next Xbox here at Armchair Arcade (among many other thoughts from staff and other commenters), it's now time to discuss the reality from today's #XboxReveal, with Microsoft the last of the three to play its next generation hand. As you no doubt already know, Nintendo's Wii U is struggling mightily, while Sony's PS4 has a lot of positive buzz so far and will be released around the same time as the new Xbox (Xbox One). With all that said, let's take a look at what was just unveiled.
On Tuesday, May 21, we'll have the next Xbox announcement. Nintendo has obviously already played their hand with the Wii U, an intriguing, but possibly failed gamble on a mix of current gen technology with tablet paradigms, and Sony has shown much of what they'll be offering with the PS4, a "social" next gen console that emphasizes its access speed for everything from updates to getting to play games/demos without much, if any, delay. Interestingly, Microsoft was first out of the gate this current generation, but will be last to make their announcement thanks to positive momentum in the past few years (everywhere except Japan, of course).
In any case, the rumor mill has been quite active, obviously, with the usual mix of thoughtful and not-so-thoughtful claims. You can read all about those elsewhere, but here are my thoughts on what is and isn't likely:
Sources like Kotaku claim that the new upcoming Xbox console will always have to be online to play games. Even if they are single player games. Without an internet connection the device more or less is a doorstop as it won't be possible to launch any games or apps. It is also said that internet interruptions up to 3 minutes won't cause issues but longer drop outs will halt the machine. And despite Sony denying that the new PS4 won't be able to play second hand games they did apply for a patent for technology doing that very thing. Companies do seem to be drifting away from giving a good customer service. Below are my thoughts on these matters which seems to become a reality for consumers world-wide. If you don't want to read it all, there's also a video :)
I've been quiet on the blog front of late as I've been focused on writing three new books for 2013 (and hopefully do what I can to help get the documentary out as well). However, with the latest NPD figures for videogame consoles being dissected across the Web-o-sphere, and Sony likely firing the next salvo for next generation platforms with their upcoming PlayStation-centric announcement (and Microsoft to follow soon thereafter), I thought this would a good time to break my silence and chime in with my perspective on the current videogame-centric happenings.
First off, it's clearly not looking good for pure videogame stuff with three lackluster hardware launches in a row: 3DS, Vita, and Wii U. The 3DS recovered sufficiently with a dramatic price cut that was very much against Nintendo's previous corporate policies that discouraged losing money on hardware, which allowed it enough time to hold out for the software situation to pick up. While it will never reach the sales heights of the blockbuster DS, considering how much competition both direct and indirect there is now versus then, it should still end up selling quite well when it has run through its complete lifecycle.