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Xbox One: technical specifications and what do they mean.
Xbox One - Tokyo Game Show 2013
Every time a new gaming console arrives we are flooded with technical information and other data that, let's face it, until you get your hands on the actual product, don't mean a thing.
Of course, I'm not that naive to think that the producers will ever present their products in an objective way, but this constant bombardment with technical information and different features, more or less useful, that are presented as being life-saving, tends to get a bit annoying after a while.
This trend is very obvious in the video game consoles department. To me, after the launch of the highly anticipated Xbox One gaming console, it was clear that the real capabilities of the new console will be revealed only by the public and by private testers.
So let's find out together what the Xbox One is really capable of.
Firstly, let's start with the theory, or what the producer actually says about it's "baby".
Xbox One - Gamescom 2013
As you all probably know by now, the Xbox One is the third console proudly wearing the Xbox logo. The successor of the Xbox 360 directly competes with the Nintendo Wii U and Sony's Playstation 4 for the title of the best gaming console out there.
Under it's "liquid black" exterior casing lies the heart of the Xbox One, the AMD Jaguar APU with two quad-core modules resulting in a total of eight 64 bit cores clocked at 1.75 GHz. "What is an APU?" I hear you ask, well, APU is short for "Accelerated Processing Unit" and is the name that AMD decided to give to a type of microprocessors that are designed to act both as a CPU ( central processing unit ) and as a GPU ( graphics processing unit ) solution on a single chip. Now, the concept is not that new and these types of microprocessors are being produced for some time now, but with the producers of the Xbox One and Playstatin 4 shouting this initials with every chance they get, I thought it's a good time to explain what they actually mean.
To return to the actual Xbox One hardware specifications, I have to add that the video game console has 8 GB of DDR3 RAM memory, 3 of which are used for the operating system, or the Xbox OS, and other applications, while the remaining 5 GB of RAM are used for games.
It has a storage capacity of 500 GB on an internal hard drive and a Blu-ray Disc optical drive.
The GPU is based on an AMD Radeon GCN architecture with 12 compute units, totaling 768 cores, running at 853 MHz, and, as I've said earlier, integrated into the APU. It is capable of 1080p, 1080i and 720p resolutions, and the One supports HDMI 1.4 for input as well as output.
It also supports 7.1 surround sound and, for networking, the Xbox One supports Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless, and Wi-Fi Direct.
It also has the Kinect 2.0 system for motion tracking and voice recognition, a system that uses a 1080p wide-angle camera for features like tracking up to 6 skeletons at once, performing heart rate tracking, tracking gestures performed with an Xbox One controller, and scanning QR codes to redeem Xbox Live gift cards. The Kinect also has a microphone always ready to hear your commands.
Now that's the theory anyway, let's see what the numbers translate to into the real world, or shall I say into the gaming world.
Xbox One displayed at Gamescom 2013
What the numbers actually mean.
As you'd expect with any new product in the gaming / mobile / computer industry, these days, the backward compatibility is at an all time low. Meaning there is no backward compatibility with the Xbox 360 and older, which basically means that you can not play your old Xbox 360 games directly on the One, you have to purchase their Xbox One compatible versions, and as nobody likes buying the same game twice it's better if you just buy new games instead.
Technically speaking, it has a faster CPU, more RAM memory, a bigger hard drive, a better video card, better sound, networking and so on, let's face it, nobody expected it to be slower than the 360 anyway. But what all of this actually means?
Well according to "reviews.cnet.com", the games also available on the Xbox 360, only look marginally better, the same problem being encountered by Playstation ( when comparing the same game on PS3 and PS4, of course ) as well, and I agree with them that this problem will be fixed with time, as the game developers will learn how to fully use the improved performances of the systems ( Xbox One and Playstation 4 ).This also confirms what I was saying all along, that it's better to buy newer games that can take advantage of the console's improved hardware than just buying your old games all over again just to see some minute improvements in terms of graphics and performances.
You can also watch live TV on the Xbox One and switch between a game and the console's operating system to "see what's on" or just to open some apps. Now, if you're a PC user, that's not that impressive, it's called multitasking, but it is an interesting feature for a console.
According to "reviews.cnet.com", the snap function, that is basically multitasking for consoles as I was pointing out earlier, can be disorienting at times and, of course, not all applications have that feature, but they also say that the Xbox One they tested was running on a beta environment, and that Microsoft has informed the testers that there will be significant improvements after the public release.
Continuing our quest to better understand the new Xbox One, we stumble upon the Kinect 2.0. With the help of the Kinect system and the Xbox One interface, the gaming console is nearly completely controllable while relying only on this system and your voice. While that sounds good in theory, in practice can lead to some frustrating times, but it has to be said that the Kinect is also one of the features that will be improved in the future. That being said, I don't think all of its problems will be fixed, as I haven't came across a speech recognizing system that doesn't require a great deal of calm from its user.
Another thing that I haven't seen the logic behind, is the 60$-a-year Xbox Live Gold membership, which is required to unlock basic functionality. I mean, if the membership would have been required for additional features, it would have been alright, but to unlock basic features, especially when you take into consideration the One's base price which is quite high to start with, is just not OK.
In the end, although technically the Xbox One it is outstanding, and the new systems and features it brings to the table are impressive, the big initial price and ulterior fees, lead me to think that you should stick with your old 360 or PS3 for now, and wait until more games that can take advantage of it's improved hardware will appear, and the system's applications, OS, and functions will be improved so that the big asking price will become a bit more realistic.
In fact, that's the advice I normally give about any gaming console or mobile device, don't jump to buy it based on what the producer tells you, wait until it gets some proper revives from people that have nothing to gain from an eventual popularity of that product. Also, always check for the reviews of the individuals who already bought the device / console, because that's the only way to find out about how or if a product works in the real world.
Gaming consoles poll:
What gaming console would you buy?
You can vote your favorite new generation video game console in the poll, also leave a comment below if you want to have your say about the Xbox One, and why not, it's rivals.
Which console is the best? Why?
Is the Xbox One's high price justified?
Answer these questions in the comments area below, or just say your own opinion, or talk about your experience involving Xbox products or other gaming consoles.
Want to see the full review from "reviews.cnet.com" on the Xbox One? Follow the link below:
- Microsoft Xbox One Review - Watch CNET's Video Review
Arriving a full eight years to the day after the Xbox 360, the Xbox One stakes a bold claim as the lone star of your living room stage, a do-everything box that ...