Xbox One

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Back when this console cycle first started I made a post about the PS4 and said it was time to make up my mind about it.

That didn’t happen ūüôā

In fact I’ve been waffling on if I was going to buy a new game console at all since then but I’ve finally broken down and picked up an Xbox One.

There were a few things that finally convinced me to bite the bullet:

  • My PS3’s Bluray drive has gone flaky, I can’t watch more than about 30 minutes of a movie before it freezes up.
  • Having the 360 and PS3 really makes a cabling nightmare around the entertainment system.
  • Windows 10

So it came down to a choice, PS4 or Xbox One?

At the end of the day I use my console more for media than gaming and so the choice was simple, the Xbox One.

First Impressions

Ok, the Xbox One is big, really big.¬† Much bigger than I would¬†have expected honestly, but that’s not really an issue for me, I have lots of space.

What confuses me about the size is that even with how big it is, the power brick is external and huge as well.¬† You’d think they could have integrated it in to the main unit.

One other nitpick that I had heard about was the fact you couldn’t stand it on its side, which is true and kind of strange really.¬† But it works fine laying flat so again, not a big deal.

Beyond that, the software is slick, the games are impressive and it does integrate well with all of my other components.

Voice control is a little hit and miss, but the auto detection of who’s in the room is a neat trick and seems pretty consistent.

The media player and Bluray payer both work well and didn’t have any issue connecting to my media server.

All in all it was an easy setup.

Next Steps

There are a few things left to do:

  • Route my Bell ExpressVu signal though the Xbox to get the integrated TV experience.
  • Connect the Xbox One through my stereo instead of directly to the TV to get surround sound.
  • Find something to do with an old 260/PS3 ūüôā

PlayStation 4

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Now that November is upon us, the serious question of if I’m going to pick up a new game console must be addressed.

I’ve been waffling¬†between the PS4 and Xbox One, or perhaps none at all.¬† However the decision just go a lot easier as Sony has released their FAQ on the PS4 and it has some major gotcha’s in it.

  • No MP3 Playback
  • No Audio CD Playback
  • No DLNA support

While many criticized Microsoft for focusing too much on entertainment in the Xbox One release, Sony had gone the completely opposite direction and hobbled their console to the point of being useless for entertainment.¬† Well unless you want to use Sony’s pay services to listen to music and watch movies of course ūüėČ

Time to move on from game consoles

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I’ve been a gamer since a very young age, when¬†my family had the first Atari 2600.¬† Since then, I’ve always had the latest game console and currently I have both the 360 and PS3.

However the more I see of the next generation of game consoles the less interested I am in getting one.¬† This isn’t entirely Microsoft or Sony’s fault per say, but they certainly aren’t helping either.

In reality, I don’t game all that much any more.¬† The kinds of games that are available don’t interest me much and I have zero interest in online multiplayer.¬† I became a gamer in the first place because a group of friends would come over and we’d game together.¬† Today, my friends either are no longer games or no longer have time to game.¬† Either way it means my gaming time is virtually zero these days.

That’s just the change in my playing habits, but there is another side to the change:

  • Sony hasn’t provided any compelling reason so far to look at the PS4, social sharing doesn’t interest me in the slightest and it’s still just a games console.
  • Microsoft has provided some compelling features beyond just gaming, but their always¬†connected¬†Kinect¬†requirement is a real no go for me.

Both will require¬†some kind of subscription, another big turn off as far as I’m concerned.

In the end, I use my game systems more as media players than anything else now and so I’ve picked up a media PC again and now need to build a media center install.¬† I’m poking around at both XBMC¬†and Myth both on Unix, but I’ll probably look at Media Center and MediaPortal as well on Windows.

 

Movie Downloads

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In a previous post I talked about how online music dominated my buying habits and that I no longer even considered buying a CD as an option.  The other day I had the opposite happen.

Every once in a while I buy a movie, the last one I purchased was Prometheus, which had a lot of extra’s and two commentary tracks on it.¬† This kind of movie makes sense to purchase¬†on Blu-Ray, as there isn’t yet a standard for things like commentary¬†tracks in most movie formats.¬† However I was looking to pick up a copy of Jack Reacher¬†(which really reminds¬†me of an old school Dirty Harry movie) and all I wanted as the movie.¬† It just felt wrong having to go out and actually buy the disk so I looked online to see if there were any options yet.

I found it in a couple of places online:

  • Cineplex.com has the SD version available
  • PlayStation¬†Store

Now here’s the problem,¬†both are full of DRM.

The Cineplex download only runs on your computer and can’t stream to other devices (like my PS3).¬† Where as the PlayStation store copy only works on the PS3, I can’t put it on my phone or other devices.

Really?¬† I can instead go online to a torrent site and get a full copy of the movie without and DRM in minutes but I can’t buy a legal copy online that gives me the freedom to use it as I like?

And don’t get me started about the “digital” editions and UltraViolet.¬† DRM infested “digital” editions that only run on¬†a PC with their software¬†is a no go.¬† And I refuse to “stream” gigs of data every time I want to¬†watch my movie.

The movie studio’s need to grow up and realize they’re killing their own business by refusing to deliver a product people actually want.

P.S. ¬†On a semi-related note, why can’t I just buy the Blu-Ray version of the movie?¬† Why do I need to buy the combo pack that includes a DVD copy, digital edition and UltraViolet version?¬† I… just… want… the… Blu-Ray!

Xbox Announcment

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So on May 21st, Microsoft is going to announce the next Xbox…

This, of course, is not surprising after the PS4 announcement  earlier in the year, but it is a little later than most had thought.

Sony has not done a very good job at building excitement over the PS4, the initial launch party was highly lacking in detail and sounded much like the PS2 and PS3 announcements.  Namely full of high ambitions that will never come to pass.  Unlike Sony though (the PS4 will be successful, the only question is how long it will take), Microsoft has a more to lose and gain.

Microsoft is on the cusp of becoming a dominant player¬†in home entertainment, they’ve spent a lot of time and money moving the Xbox 360 away from being just a game console and towards a multimedia console.¬† The new Xbox by all the indicators will go even farther and if they come up with something really good, they could make a big move in this area.

I am still on the fence if I’ll buy a new console this generation.¬† I don’t really play many games any more but if the Xbox or PS4 upped the media ante, it might tempt me in to buying one.

I still don’t like the fact to get most of the apps and games on the Xbox you must have an Xbox live¬†gold membership, it seems like a yearly tax to me.¬† But even that I can handle if the right features are present on the device.¬† What are those features?

  • Robust video format support (DivX, Xvid, avi, MKV, etc)
  • Streaming standards (DLNA at least and Windows file shares would be nice)
  • A good interface for DLNA
  • Quiet operation
  • IR remote control support
  • Blu-Ray

Some nice to have features would be:

  • Standard form factor, make it fit in with the rest of my media hardware
  • HDMI pass through, with the option to stream the video out via DLNA

We’ll see what happens at the announcement, but I suspect we won’t get all the details right away.¬† Either way, by the end of the year we’ll have two new consoles to choose from.