So we bought an Xbox One

Hard to believe that the Xbox One had been out for two years before we had any reasons to buy one.

I looked around for offers and, out of a poor bunch, settled for the FIFA 16 bundle at Tesco with Halo 5 as the extra game. I’m rubbish at both football games and Halo so this shows how limited the selection to choose from was.

I ordered Rock Band with the legacy Wi-Fi adapter at the same time off Amazon, naïvely hoping our old USB kit would work. In the end, Rock band 4 couldn’t use the USB guitars, just the USB microphone; luckily I had a wireless guitar which the legacy adapter (bought at extra cost) allowed me to use.

Went for supermarket delivery – picking up the Xbox and Halo from the local Tesco Express, and Rock Band from the shop down the path that participates in the Pass My Parcel scheme. A parcel collection point open from 6:30am to 8pm with email notification kicks the postman with his “Sorry, you were out” card and depots in the middle of business parks back into the 20th century. The East Reading Royal Mail delivery office shuts at 1pm every week day except Wednesday when they manage 8pm. Too little, too late, but I’m now way off-topic.

So I managed to set up the console without too much difficulty – the main obstacle was the rat’s nest of cables and plug sockets behind the TV (I’ll get round to plugging the Toshiba VCR back in some time…) The design doesn’t look particularly special – a standard black case with sockets placed aesthetically rather then where they’d be useful. I found the touch-sensitive power and Blu-ray eject buttons a nice touch until I discovered how easy it is to activate them by accidentally brushing your fingers past them.

We soon decided that the console must be defective. It was horribly slow in games and the interface was often unresponsive. Maybe the hard drive or optical disk drive were broken? It was hard to tell as home use electronics never have any useful diagnostics. Eventually we decided that it was working – just also trying to download and install gigabytes and gigabytes of updates. It hadn’t helped that the FIFA 16 game was a download-only version which took forever to come down the line. Once the updates for the console and Halo had arrived, that is. The Xbox was basically unusable for HOURS.

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Eventually, the console settled down, 60 GB later, to an acceptable performance level and we could play some Rock Band. It was then that we discovered the nightmare that is the Xbox One Store.

  1. You cannot just press the ‘A’ button to get the console to download all the music you bought for Rock Band 3 on the Xbox 360. No, you have to download them one track (or pack) at a time. This is by design due to Microsoft’s restrictions.
  2. To find a song to download, you slide through the row of titles until you find what you want. Once you’ve queued it up for download, you’re back at the start of the row again. Each and every time. And there seems to be a limit to the size of the row so you can’t seem to display all the available songs.
  3. To speed things up, I searched for key words from song titles, tediously typed in to the on-screen keyboard using the controller. (Yes, I should have gone to find a USB keyboard in case that made things easier.) This way, I only had a few titles to choose from instead of dozens. This was a two-person operation – one reading from the list of song titles we owned and the other using the controller. It took ages and we know we’ve missed some.
  4. To get the list, I went to the Xbox 360 store website and downloaded my purchase history. There is no equivalent website for the Xbox One. I can go to a purchase and tell it to download to an Xbox 360 again but I can’t request a download to an Xbox One.

Another time I set up the Xbox Media Player app to play music stored on the server in the study. There are a LOT of albums ripped to the hard disk from our CD collection, all indexed on the server. Media Player on the PC would allow you to view these by album title, artists, etc. in the way most people are properly familiar with. The equivalent on the Xbox One tries to do the same but seems to be designed to cope with only a handful of albums. I couldn’t get the clunky row of titles to scroll past ‘B’. Maybe it just needs time to cope with the large amount of indexed data. Some indication of this would be nice. I did start some tracks to see how it handled playing data over the home network. Not well. Some worked but then the app got bored and gave up trying.

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Is there anything I like about the Xbox One? No, not really.

  • The graphical quality within the games is nice but that’s a bare minimum and to be expected from a replacement for the Xbox 360 that came out 10 years ago.
  • I resent being unable to use most of the accessories from the 360 (controllers, steering wheels, Kinect, etc.)
  • The user interface is confusing at best (and I thought I was used to the 360’s similar UI). 
  • I’ve had to upgrade our Broadband to unlimited so we won’t keep blowing our monthly quota. Obviously, Samantha is VERY happy about this.

Thankfully, I still have the Xbox 360 plugged in to the TV for all the things the Xbox One can’t do properly (or at all).

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