Xbox One X Review: Blow Me Away Power But Not Yet A Must-Have Upgrade

Microsoft

Microsoft Xbox One X

For nearly 20 years, my family has practiced a Thanksgiving Day ritual of playing the latest incarnation of Electronic Arts’ popular Madden Football series. I’ve always been impressed with new versions of Madden Football—due to the visual complexity of the actual game of football, Madden always pushes console hardware to its limits.

Because of this, I knew it would be a good trial game for the recently released, hotly anticipated
Microsoft
Xbox One X (dubbed Project Scorpio). I was looking to provide some commentary and answer the big question I’ve been getting from friends and family: should I plop down $500 and make the plunge?

Form factor: a miniaturization dream but Kinect is now kaput

Compared to the original Xbox One, the new One X looks like it attended a series of hot Yoga classes. Measuring only 2.4” X 9.8” 11.5” (HWD), the One X’s slab-like form factor is remarkably small given the processing and graphics power its packs.
Microsoft
’s engineering team also wins major-league kudos for the One X’s completely internal power supply, which eliminates the legacy Xbox One’s hideous power brick (the bane of its users). From a ports standpoint, the Xbox One X has the same ports as the original legacy model: HDMI-In, HDMI-Out, two USB ports, an Ethernet LAN connector, an optical connector, and 3.5mm infrared blaster output.

Unfortunately, with the introduction of the Xbox One X,
Microsoft
decided to kill the vaunted Kinect controller. One of the core reasons that attracted me to the original Xbox One was that unlike the
Sony
PlayStation 4, it played “nice” with home entertainment systems—seamlessly integrating with your cable or satellite TV feed with its “pass-through” video input capability. This was a marvelous step forward in making a video game console “friendly” to the entire family (especially Mom and Dad), considering the bedlam that typically ensues in the living room when the TV remote control can’t be found to change video inputs. Video pass-through also allows the Xbox One X to be truly used as an entertainment platform since the console’s OS has impressive app support for streaming services like
Netflix
,
Amazon.com
, Hulu and MLB.com, among others.

In addition, while the original Kinect was never going to win an award from
Apple
for industrial design brilliance, it did easily facilitate voice recognition and provide image recognition (chiefly, to identify the user) with a camera sensor. Another thing that made the original Xbox One Kinect so great was that you could use a simple, Cortana-based voice command to automatically turn on the console (as well as the TV)—something I did almost every evening. Of course, voice recognition is still available using a wireless Xbox One-compatible headset, but for the casual user who is using their console as a convenient combo streaming entertainment AND gaming platform, this is not the most convenient scenario. The good news is that you can still connect a legacy Kinect controller for the same functionality if you have one with a $50 USB adapter (available online or at
Microsoft
’s retail stores). I did exactly that and it worked like a charm.

On the plus side, the improved Xbox One X GUI allows you to easily access the vast majority of the top streaming apps, including
Netflix
, Amazon Video, Hulu and my personal favorite, MLB.com. In comparison to the legacy Xbox One, I found the loading times for apps much faster on the Xbox One X and I like the ability to be able to run supported movies and shows in 4K HDR.

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