THE XBOX ONE

2D Boxshot Wizard v1.1A number of critics have been saying the Xbox One isn’t worth getting because some of the most popular games won’t play on it. That’s not the only reason.

We got one because our favorite game, Peggle, is out in a new version that only plays on Xbox One. The other reason was just to keep up to date on what’s happening out there.

It’s a good thing we’re having a blast playing that game, because everything else about the Xbox One feels overpriced and underwhelming. Want to use Skype for phone calls? Or Amazon Instant Video? Or Internet Explorer? Or even the popular Netflix and Hulu networks? Fuggedaboutit. Nearly everything you want to do except free games, requires an extra $60 a year membership in Xbox Gold.

We think that — once again – Microsoft is behind the curve. The features that Xbox Gold adds are already available on most TVs purchased within the last few years, and if not on yours, you can plug a laptop in the TV and even get Skype, Amazon video and other services with no extra charge. Even our budget laptop (less than $400) bought a few years ago connects to our TV.

What gets most critics excited about the Xbox One is the quality of the graphics, and features like picture-in-picture — so you can watch TV while playing a game. Some TVs can do this as well. Actually, Bob recalls that you could do this around 20 years ago if you bought a special graphics card for your PC.

The Xbox One comes with what they call a Kinect player, which lets you control the device with gestures and body movements. Most of those gestures worked OK, but some, like “zoom out,” took many tries to get right. If you want to feel like an idiot, keep thrusting your hands in and out in a frantic effort to zoom. Voice commands worked better.

Another possible deal breaker: poor video playback on the web. We went to 60 Minutes Overtime at CBS.com, for example, and it just hung there and never did load the video. Pausing a movie in Amazon Instant Video was tough to do, but easy to do on our Google TV and smart Sony TV.

So what it all boils down to is that the Xbox One is still a game machine, the touted extra features cost extra and aren’t that extra. But if playing video games is your passion, you’ll probably love this machine. The Xbox senses your moves and can critique them, whether you’re dancing, exercising or sliding down a hill in a video game.

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