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Xbox One review: Microsoft console is a serious contender

Microsoft Xbox One
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £280
inc VAT (console and one game)

Replaced by the Xbox One S, the Xbox One has great exclusives and additional features


CPU: 8-core AMD Jaguar CPU, Graphics: 853MHz Radeon GPU with 12 Compute Units Memory: 8GB DDR3 (32MB ESRAM cache), Storage: 500GB hard disk, Blu-ray drive

Check out the best Xbox One deals here


In the two years since it first went on sale, there have only been a handful of Microsoft exclusive titles to justify buying an Xbox One over rival Sony’s PS4. Having said that, it’s the Xbox that has the upper hand here, with Sony’s exclusives largely failing to live up to expectations, or simply being niche titles.

Titanfall was the first big exclusive, though that was sometime ago now and the community of players is pretty small now. Since then, there’s been the fun and frantic third-person shooter Sunset Overdrive, although it’s not a system seller. Then there’s arguably the best racing game to date in the form of Forza Horizon 2 – it’s more on the fun side than a serious simulation but don’t let that put you off. Worth a mention is Halo: Master Chief Collection, which has prettied up versions of all four core Halo games, great for a nostalgic blast though the multiplayer has been dogged by problems.

That bring us round neatly to this Christmas’s offering, leading the way is the well-received Halo 5: Guardians. The single-player is a good blast but it’s the two multiplayer modes that really shine, with a tight arena game fro those who want to test their mettle and a more knockabout mode on big maps with vehicles if you’re looking for something truly epic.

Alongside Halo, Microsoft also has the much-hyped Quantum Break coming soon. It’s a third-person shooter with time-bending gameplay, which is then interwoven with a live-action TV episodes that you’ll stream from Xbox Live. Then there’s Rise of the Tomb Raider, which is exclusive to Microsoft for now, and is the slickest action-adventure around today.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - ice climbing


At launch, Microsoft was adamant that Kinect would be an integral part of the Xbox One – so much so that it initially bundled the depth-sensing camera with every console. The company has since backtracked on that decision, following an outcry by gamers about the price and lack of support in big games. More recently it has gone further still with Kinect bundles drying up at retail and the new interface eschewing voice controls.

Microsoft Xbox One

No longer a key part of the Xbox One, but Kinect still has its uses

It’s bigger than the original Kinect, with a black finish and angular lines that match the console. The camera detects the number of people in the room, automatically signing in profiles as it recognises faces. If you download the free Xbox Fitness app, it can monitor you while you exercise, using a combination of RGB and infra-red cameras to monitor small details like flushed cheeks to read your heart rate. It also reads QR codes, which is far easier than typing in 25-digit numerical codes to redeem Xbox Live subscriptions or digital downloads – it takes less than a second to detect a code, having activated it almost as soon as you raise the card to the camera lens.

It’s more than just a camera, however. Microsoft says Kinect’s microphones are precise enough to isolate your speech from across a room, even with game audio in the background, although a Chat headset does still ship with the console. In my experience, I still got some in-game feedback from our online friends when playing Killer Instinct, but for the most part speech was clear and of a much higher bit rate than the Xbox 360.

Support for Kinect is patchy beyond Microsoft own titles. Forza 5 can track your head movement to move the in-car view as you lean left and right, while Ryse: Son of Rome lets you command your fellow soldiers with voice commands. It’s at its best away from games, with voice-controlled search of content on Netflix and brilliant Skype integration for chatting online.


The Xbox One’s price has plummeted since launch, first removing the Kinect and then in an attempt to compete with PS4. Today you can pick up an Xbox One (without a Kinect) for just £230 bundled with a couple of smaller games, with 3-game bundles starting at around £270. 

If that doesn’t tempt you, and it really should, then head over to our Best Xbox One deals page for all the latest and greatest Xbox One bundles.


The Xbox One has really come into its own over the last six months. It has now delivered on its promise to provide something more than just a games console. Its HDMI input and OneGuide service mean it really can be centre of your home entertainment; the ability to split the screen to both watch-and-play is a killer feature for some, while a proper DLNA media server lets you stream your media files to the console. Add in the new game streaming technology and you can play around the home as and when you please. Plus form next year it could replace your PVR entirely as a free-to-air set top box recorder of enviable power.

Then there’s the excellent controller and a good range of exclusive titles, with a current line-up that puts Sony’s in the shade for most gamers, plus a range of upcoming exclusives that look arguably stronger this Christmas – especially given that Uncharted 4 has slipped into 2016, the latest in a line of Sony slip ups.

So despite all that, why is the PS4 still our preferred console for most? Well it’s an established fact that it’s technically superior to the Xbox One when playing multi-platform games, with slightly sharper visuals and smoother frame rates, and at present those make up the large majority of our gaming diets. 

It’s a narrow thing though, and if the exclusives on the Xbox One appeal to you, or your living room TV is heavily contested by others, then I’d recommend you buy Microsoft’s console over Sony’s.

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CPUDual quad-core 1.75GHz AMD Jaguar CPU modules
GPUAMD Radeon GPU with 768 cores at 853MHz
RAM8GB DDR3 (32MB ESRAM cache)
Storage500GB hard disk
Storage expansionUSB storage (media playback only)
Dimensions (WxDxH)333x79x274mm
Power use (peak/idle/sleep)125W/65W/15W (Instant On mode)
Analogue sticks2
Face buttons7
Triggers and bumpers4
Other featuresRumble triggers, headphone socket with optional adaptor
Controller power2x AA batteries or optional battery pack which charges over USB
Accessories providedPower adaptor, HDMI cable, 2x AA batteries, IR blaster, microphone headset, Kinect and cable (with some bundles)
Audio outputsOptical S/PDIF
Video outputsHDMI
Video inputsHDMI
NetworkingGigabit Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi
USB ports3 (2 front, 1 side)
Memory card readerNone
OtherKinect port, IR blaster port
Multimedia Features
DLNA serverYes
Blu-ray/DVD playbackYes
3D Blu-ray playbackYes
CD playbackYes
TV tunerOptional
Buying information
Price including VATFrom £280
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Part code7UV-00080

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