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Xbox One review

The Xbox One is getting better with every firmware update

Microsoft introduced Xbox Live at the tail-end of the original Xbox's shelf life, but it was on the Xbox 360 that it became the fleshed out, full featured online service that we know today.

Now that more and more console features are internet dependent, a strong web connection, as well as buying into the console's online service, is a basic requirement.

Xbox Live

For the majority of the last console generation, Xbox Live was the reigning king of online gaming networks. Offering dedicated multiplayer servers and a new game every month, Xbox Live may not have been free like PSN, but PlayStation owners got what they paid for.

Xbox Live on Xbox One is a precarious proposition. It still offers everything that made it so great in the past but, now that the system is more internet-dependant than ever, there's even more that's walled off until you pay up.

This means you won't be able to use new services like Game DVR to upload videos or utilise cloud saving until you upgrade to Gold.

Worse, you won't even be able to participate in party chat until you've paid your yearly pittance to Microsoft. And if you're not already a member, Microsoft won't let you forget about what you're missing.

You'll find advertisements plastered all over your dashboard that have the same message: Get Gold and you'll have a better time.

Xbox One review

The good, probably expected, news is that your account from the Xbox 360 will carry over to the Xbox One and, better, if you still have your Xbox 360, your account will have Gold no matter which system you're using.

You'll also be entitled to four potential games per month, two on Xbox 360 and two on Xbox One. Xbox Live's most basic services should look familiar to what you knew on the 360. You can message friends, join groups for voice chat or send typed-up messages. However, Microsoft no longer lets you record and send audio messages.

Downloading a digitally purchased game from Xbox Live is just as swift as on Sony's servers and, starting in August, can even be done remotely via Xbox.com or SmartGlass. Back at home, games can be played in mid-download, letting you dive into titles before the massive files finishes arriving.

The only real problem we see is that updates are continuously rolling onto the system. It seems like every time we go to turn it on, it needs another 70-plus MB update in order to watch a simple YouTube video. Of course the point could be made that we can always leave the system in standby mode to circumvent all the updates, but honestly, a system shouldn't need an update every two days.

When you finally do decide to join up with Gold, it feels like a luxury service. Free games every month, plus dedicated servers that ensure smooth online gameplay. It may not give you exclusive access to upcoming demos like PlayStation Plus once did - for that you'll want to look at EA Access - but Xbox Live Gold generally still feels like a good value.

With Game DVR the Xbox One has introduced big element to Xbox Live, but hasn't given it its proper due. Your friend feed is rather buried, hidden a couple menus deep in the system's interface.

It makes uploading the file to SkyDrive and sharing it on YouTube a much more attractive option. While we appreciate that notifications and shared content it cluttering up our home screen, Microsoft should really consider finding a new place for this content to live.

There are also no free games yet available for Gold subscribers on the Xbox One. There is Killer Instincts, but it's too riddled with microtransactions to really be called free. When you download the game you get only one character and one arena. Everything else is pay to play, up to the point where you can spend enough to buy a full boxed title.

Xbox really needs to step things up in this regard. PS Plus subscribers currently get two free games, Resogun and Contrast, and they're both solid titles. Gold subscribers on the 360 currently have similair benefits, so there's really no reason why Microsoft shouldn't have come out of the gate with something to reward its paying customers.

Tech Specs

Product TypeGaming Console
Hard Drive Capacity500 GB
Processor ManufacturerAMD
Graphics Controller ManufacturerATI
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeBlu-ray Disc Player
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
USBYes
HDMIYes
Product FamilyXbox One
Gaming Controller ConnectivityWireless
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
Brand NameMicrosoft
Input Device TypeGame Pad
Processor CoreOcta-core (8 Core)
Graphics Controller ModelRadeon
EthernetYes
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Graphics Processor Speed853 MHz
Online NetworkXbox LIVE
Channels7.1
ManufacturerMicrosoft Corporation
Product NameXbox One Gaming Console
Processor Speed1.60 GHz
Processor TypeJaguar
Product LineXbox One
Manufacturer Part NumberXBOXONE
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.microsoft.co.uk
Marketing Information

Be amazed.

Welcome to a new generation of games and entertainment. Where games push the boundaries of realism. And television obeys your every command. Where listening to music while playing a game is a snap. And you can jump from TV to movies to music to a game in an instant. Where your experience is custom tailored to you. And the entertainment you love is all in one place. Welcome to the all-in-one, Xbox One.