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The PA Report - The Xbox One is a confusing mess of hardware and UI that sings once you learn the vo

DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin

imageThe PA Report - The Xbox One is a confusing mess of hardware and UI that sings once you learn the voice commands

The Xbox One has always been an ambitious platform. Microsoft wanted to create a truly digital platform, but inept messaging and instant player backlash urged them to drop that plan.

Read the full story here


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  • mauliksharmamauliksharma Registered User regular
    So the big question stems from the fact that voice appears to be integral to the overall user experience. Now based on looking at other videos from ign etc., the voice control appears to require some repetition to work right. How is the UI when not using voice? Is it unweildy or can you just say screw it and use nothing but your controller. Also, if you're in party chat with others, will they keep hearing you saying things to the kinect? Could get bad when 4 of your friends in a party keep blurting out "xbox do ____".

  • BrohameBrohame Registered User regular
    so, are deaf people just kind of screwed with the xbone?

  • Ben KucheraBen Kuchera Registered User staff
    No, they can just use a controller.

  • theseumtheseum Registered User regular
    Is the voice control significantly better than with the X360 (in terms of accuracy)?

  • tazsultazsul Registered User regular
    @Mauliksharma
    The Kinect 2.0 is not just a microphone. It uses the cameras to see who is talking, and is supposed to be able to track sound to within 5" of its source to fight that problem. Now, if you are mouthing words while you friend stands behind you and issues commands, or your friend is sitting check to check with you, that's really your fault.

    I am curious to hear Ben's experience with ambient noises. I'm inferring from the article it wasn't an issue. I'm sure he would have said if it was.

  • Ben KucheraBen Kuchera Registered User staff
    YES. So much better.

  • Exley97Exley97 Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    This is interesting. My chief concerns going into this launch were, based on the Xbox 360 experience, how the new console's hardware handled heat and noise, the two biggest blights on that system. I had three 360s red ring on me (two were repaired/refunded), and I'm just not going through that again.

    That said, the UI issues are fascinating because it looks as though this interface was built in tandem with what the Windows guys were doing with Win8, and yet from the sound of this review and others it's not quite like Windows 8 enough to be familiar for users. Which is...strange. I wonder if the Xbox One dev team made some changes over the last year after seeing how Win8 was initially received, or if this UI/interface was the blueprint all along. In any event, this to me further demonstrates that Microsoft's current Achilles heel is UI. They just struggle mightily with making software that's easy to use, and for the life of me I can't understand, with all the talent and experience that company has, why that is.

    Exley97 on
  • SilellakSilellak Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    While I appreciate what Microsoft is trying to do, I really don't see the appeal of "snapping" apps, even after reading examples of what people have done. I'm a chronic multitasker in other areas of my life, but when I'm gaming, I want to game. I don't want to game while watching TV or Skyping or browsing in IE or watching live streams of someone else gaming. If I really want to browse the web, I'll grab a close-at-hand device that's better at it. By the same token, if I'm watching TV (or, not having a cable box in my case, Hulu), I want to be immersed in the show.

    In many ways, I feel like the Xbox One is a more innovative machine...but much of that innovation doesn't seem to apply to how I play games or how I watch TV. Maybe in a couple of years, that will change.

    For now, you can find me on my PS4.

    Silellak on
  • mauliksharmamauliksharma Registered User regular
    Sorry I meant to clarify. I don't mean party as in an actual physical party. I meant if i have 4 other people in a xbl party with party chat, will they have to listen to me giving commands and me in turn them? That could get annoying after a while but i'll defer to Ben's experience.

  • mauliksharmamauliksharma Registered User regular
    Also, Ben any chance of doing a similar uncut video of you using the UI? That I find to be the true test of how this UI will look / function in the real world. The IGN video and the gamespot live stream aren't really alleviating my concerns about how reliable the voice commands are.

  • darkonejrdarkonejr Registered User new member
    I heard that cable/satellite boxes that are daisy chained to the Xbox One lose Dolby Digital/DTS output... is this true, or does the Xbox One pass the signal cleanly? Having the audio get mangled would be a showstopper for me...

  • GunganGungan Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    Ben, can you clarify whether the only way to use the HDMI IN source is to say "Xbox Watch TV"... because it seems like that would be really irritating for anyone using it for something other than a TV source.

    Maybe I'm neurotic about things like that, but it would certainly bother me.

    Also, I'm almost 100% sure that the TV features the Xbone purports to have are downloading show time listings based on your cable provider onto an Xbox themed TV guide, that functions whether or not there is a TV source in the HDMI IN.

    I have a feeling you could leave the HDMI IN empty, put the IR blaster next to your cable box/TV, and use the Xbone TV guide that way to change channels using your voice, but I'm really just stretching to find a practical use for this thing.

    Otherwise, voice commands... woopie?

    Gungan on
  • tazsultazsul Registered User regular
    @Mauliksharma
    Hmm interesting question. I assume your Xbox won't respond to their commands, but that could get a bit annoying.

  • GunganGungan Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    @MAULIKSHARMA & TAZSUL

    I'm assuming the Kinect must both see and hear the source of the commands. Since it can't see your friends, it shouldn't be a problem. Likewise, you issuing commands from the other room should also not work.

    On the other hand, your friends probably still hear you issuing commands in party chat, and vice versa. Annoying.

    Gungan on
  • Ben KucheraBen Kuchera Registered User staff
    "Also, I'm almost 100% sure that the TV features the Xbone purports to have are downloading show time lists onto an Xbox themed TV guide, that functions whether or not there is a TV source in the HDMI IN. I have a feeling you could leave the HDMI IN empty, put the IR blaster next to your cable box/TV, and use the TV guide that way to change channels using your voice, but I'm really just stretching to find a practical use for this thing."

    Nope. You need to connect your cable box to get use out of the TV functions. That's why the HDMI in exists.

  • GunganGungan Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    @BEN

    Does it have to be a cable box, or can it be any HDMI IN like a Roku? I don't see how the Xbone could tell the difference between what is actually TV and what is not.

    Cable boxes simply don't send TV guide listings or other identifiers through their video out.

    In which case same question but replace "leave HDMI IN empty" with "anything at all on the HDMI IN". I know you've mentioned you have your Wii U on the HDMI IN. Is a TV guide available for you?

    Gungan on
  • Ben KucheraBen Kuchera Registered User staff
    Okay, there are a few different things happening here, so let's break them out. The One Guide that shows TV listings IS purely downloaded. In fact, there's an option for me to put in my zip code and select "antenna," something that doesn't hook into the system at all. So yeah, you can add TV listings manually.

    When you go into the "TV" option, that won't function without something hooked up, but it can display anything that is connected. So yes, you can leave that slot blank and download channel data, although I'm not sure what you can do with that without the cable box hooked up other than look up what time a show starts.

  • samh5621samh5621 Registered User regular
    @Ben

    Can you use the voice commands in the TV interface? i.e. "Xbox, tune to channel 505"

    ULyaWWg.png
  • PoomerPoomer ColoradoRegistered User regular
    Reading your review of the controller, you seem to knock pretty hard about the sound and second screen. You need to remember that there is a third, optional, piece of hardware for your Xbox One via the Xbox SmartGlass.

    There are numerous options on amazon to mount a tablet or Windows Phone to your Xbox One controller. The Result is something that looks like an Nvidia Shield.

  • GunganGungan Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    OK, so that's pretty much what I thought.

    Is the IR blaster still included? It seems like any listings, whether downloaded or added manually, should still let you select channels using the IR blaster.. I assume you can say, "Xbox select channel 22" or something like that. If those commands exist, can you use them outside the TV app?

    And you still have to say "Xbox Watch TV" to select that HDMI IN source even if it's not TV right?

    Man there's just so many details to figure out with this thing.

    Gungan on
  • tazsultazsul Registered User regular
    @Gungan
    The IR blaster is still included, the article on wired mentions it, but I have no other answers for you. I don't see why it would "need" an HDMI in to use the blaster, but anything is possible.

  • SkyenSkyen Registered User regular
    Re: Voice commands, I'll be interested to see how that shakes out for people with accents and regional dialects. What with all the trouble Siri had with anything OTHER than generic British/American English, I would imagine that voice-commands could become a RAPIDLY less attractive feature outside of Britian/USA.

    I know for myself my friends and family have to twist their tongues into unusual shapes to pronounce my name in a way voice-recognition software can understand.

  • SupraHansSupraHans Registered User regular
    @SKYEN

    image

    I guess accent may have been the issue?

  • CrookedKnightCrookedKnight Registered User regular
    Kind of funny that both you and Sam Machkovech over at Ars talk about how great it is to be able to watch videos while playing Forza 5 specifically. I'm starting to wonder whether it's a great feature or just looks good because Forza 5 is particularly boring.

  • GunganGungan Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    @SKYEN

    I know Android has an entirely separate voice recognition language for English with an indian accent... still, that's only 3 dialects. Boston wasn't one of those dialects.

    Gungan on
  • dbrowdydbrowdy Registered User regular
    I have been getting more and more used to using the voice features of Google Now on my phone... once you get used to saying things like "What time is Thor playing tomorrow night at Sunset Station?" and having it answer you in perfect English, it's hard to go back.

    Given that, I'm pretty excited about the voice stuff on the XBone. Hopefully it works as well, and it sounds like it does.

    That said, my wife has strict orders to punch me in the face if she ever hears me say, "xbox, bing". I think MS is just trolling us with that one.

  • grimjinxgrimjinx Registered User new member
    My girlfriend counts the seconds between turning the TV on and the AV receiver kicking the sound in. She wants to hit on and watch TV, no mess no fuss, and if I throw in an "Xbox on" and then 6-10 second wait into the mix, she won't put up with that to watch TV.

    Will the Xbox One pass through HDMI while in standby mode? I want it to be that she turns the TV on as normal and doesn't even have to think about the fact that it's going through the Xbox

  • Dark JaguarDark Jaguar Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    I guess I'll relent and just give voice a try. I will say no more about the voice commands until then.

    However, I don't agree with this statement: "The Xbox One has always been an ambitious platform. Microsoft wanted to create a truly digital platform, but inept messaging and instant player backlash urged them to drop that plan."

    What, exactly, made them "drop that plan"? If you want to buy all digital, there is nothing stopping you. The system already IS all-digital. If you want to never have to use a disc again, you will never NEED to, ever! The system is entirely available to you and that slot can be in pristine condition the day the XBox Two comes out (though knowing Microsoft they'll likely give it another confusing inconsistent name, like XBox Unity or something). Oh, there was that family and friends sharing plan. Microsoft took that out, near as I can tell, as a "punishment". It is the only explanation that makes sense to me, because if you buy digitally, there is no reason, at all, that they couldn't STILL implement that sharing plan, only limited to digital purchases. Only those who bought the disc version would be left out, by their choice. All the rage was specifically about limiting what disc buyers could do, MS never, not once, needed to change their plans for the digital versions. Heck, it goes beyond that. If MS wanted to, they could STILL include digital registration codes with every retail version of the disc. The disc buyers would have their cake and eat it too. They could put in the code and register the digital version, install using the disc, then they could have all the advantages of the digital version (family sharing, not needing the disc) PLUS the advantages of the disc (if XBox Live goes out in 10 years, they can still use the disc to play the game, plus sharing the disc itself, or even selling the game).

    So why do you insist on framing the narrative in this way? It's patently false that they "had to scrap" anything. Those who intend to buy digitally haven't lost a thing, except the family sharing which MS is fully within their power to implement ANYWAY, but are refusing to for reasons I can only guess at.

    Frankly though, I LOVE a digital future, but we as a society need to work out legal protections for consumers so that we have all the same rights with digital goods as we do with physical ones. When such a thing is accomplished, I will never go back to physical copies. Until then, I will retain my wariness since "buying" digital doesn't really feel like a purchase but more like a lease. Heck, I can't even "buy" gifts for friends from MS's store. The only store of the 3 big consoles that allowed such a feature was the Wii, and they've neglected to retain that feature in either the 3DS or the Wii U.

    Dark Jaguar on
  • GunganGungan Registered User regular
    @GRIMJINX

    Ooooh.. good question man. Does it pass HDMI in standby is a very important piece of info.

  • tazsultazsul Registered User regular
    @Suprahans
    To me it looks more like his trouble is his narration stringing together with his commands. like when you ask siri "Siri, what time is it?... This thing better work now", only in reverse. With Kinect 1.0 a nice pause between Xbox and the command works wonders. Looks like that pause isn't needed anymore, but maybe a pause before issuing the command will help?

  • tazsultazsul Registered User regular
    @Dark Jaguar
    "If MS wanted to, they could STILL include digital registration codes with every retail version of the disc. The disc buyers would have their cake and eat it too. They could put in the code and register the digital version, install using the disc, then they could have all the advantages of the digital version (family sharing, not needing the disc) PLUS the advantages of the disc (if XBox Live goes out in 10 years, they can still use the disc to play the game, plus sharing the disc itself, or even selling the game"

    I'm with you right up to this point. What you are describing, is buy one get one free. People would buy a game, register their code, then sell/give the disc away. That's a bad business model for MS. The only way it would have worked was if the code was required, otherwise it's literally buy a physical, get a digital free.

  • GunganGungan Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    @TAZSUL

    I don't really see why the digital copy and disc copy, both of which can only be played on only one platform, are considered two different products.

    Recently, Amazon started including the eBook version of many of the books they sell if you paid $1 extra when buying the physical book (this is an ongoing project that aims to include more and more publishers). I don't see why you shouldn't be allowed to opt into getting the digital version for $5 bucks when buying the physical game too.

    You could certainly sell the books you buy off Amazon and keep the eBooks. Nobody seems to be making a huff about that.

    A more apt simile for your implication would be buying the disc on the Xbone and getting the PC version for free.

    "Digital" is a distribution method. It is not a product.

    Gungan on
  • plaintomatoplaintomato Registered User regular
    @TAZSUL
    "What you are describing, is buy one get one free. People would buy a game, register their code, then sell/give the disc away. That's a bad business model for MS. The only way it would have worked was if the code was required, otherwise it's literally buy a physical, get a digital free."

    You just described the reason I buy digital on PS3 and have learned to be very disappointed when a big game doesn't have a day 1 digital release. Because I buy one and get one free since the digital version can install to two Playstations. I give up the opportunity to trade the game in, in exchange for two copies.

  • chispitochispito Registered User regular
    I suspected as much. We already use the Kinect 1.0 for voice control more than any other feature.

  • plaintomatoplaintomato Registered User regular
    "Microsoft wanted to create a truly digital platform, but inept messaging and instant player backlash urged them to drop that plan."

    It was the draconian always online policy that killed the future. If they had required online authentication at install and just required re-authentication whenever you actually used an online feature, instead of the silly 24 hour requirement, they would have been fine. Trying to eliminate offline play entirely was just plain stupid.

    At present it seems like the Xbox has more value to Microsoft's image than it does to their bottom line. Then they burn themselves with DRM - as if backlash against that wasn't predictable. Y U SO STUPID MS?

  • Oddly NormalOddly Normal Registered User new member
    My question is how well this will work with my cable box/DVR? How easy or not is it to get to my DVR functions if it's passing through and overlayed with the Xbox One stuff? It's possible I've missed the answer in all the coverage up to this point, so I ask out of honest ignorance.

  • podaypoday Registered User regular
    Not to derail this thread further away from the current implementation of the xbox one, but MS didn't really have too many options when attempting to go digital.

    There are a few realities of the console market that MS couldn't change. The first is that retailers need to sell games on par with digital versions. No one makes money on the consoles themselves, not MS nor the retailers; everyone makes money on the accessories and the games. The second is that consumers and some retailers require a second hand market. Unlike steam or phone apps people expect games to act like physical goods and several retailers' revenue streams depend upon the secondary market. And third is that publishers are already upset about the secondary market and any expansion of it could cause them to leave xbox.

    The only way that MS could ensure that people weren't passing around a single copy of the game was to have all consoles check in with the servers and register the copies of the games they "owned". These severs could then be used in the secondary market by possibly giving the publishers a cut of the second hand sale. I can think of a few alternatives to the "always on" requirement but they're all a worse experience.

  • AnthropophagicAnthropophagic Registered User regular
    @Ben

    How does switching from game to game work? I know you can only have one instance of a game going at a time.. So lets say you are already playing Forza... are you able to "Xbox play Killer Instinct" Will it shut down Forza and launch KI? will it have a pop up window letting you know you have to close out of forza and will lose progress? Is this the same if you are in a game session or on a game menu?

    As well, do launch and switching games function the same with a digital game and a Disc based game?

  • PoomerPoomer ColoradoRegistered User regular
    edited November 2013
    @GRIMJINX

    I don’t think Microsoft intends for the XboxOne to be off while your TV is on. If your girlfriend wants to watch TV from an ‘off’ entertainment system, she should be able to walk into the room and simply say “Xbox, watch TV.” The result is the Xbox comes to life (based on the E3 demo reel it looks like about 0.5 sec) and also the TV and Cable would automatically turn on via the HDMI AnyNet+, SimLink, or whatever other smart HDMI protocol you have setup with your system.

    The opposite direction, you should be able to say “Xbox, turn off.” The result is your entire entertainment system should power down just the same as it powered up.

    Explanation of the Voice Commands is here on the card that Ben mentions in the story:
    http://static6.businessinsider.com/image/528bae4b6bb3f76078444843-1043-807/xbox commands.png

    Poomer on
  • grimjinxgrimjinx Registered User new member
    @POOMER. If you don't have to say Xbox, on.. then wait and then say Xbox, Watch TV. as you suggest that that will be a massive help. If you can go cold into a room and say Xbox Watch TV, that would be awesome.

    I've just ordered my JIC solution from amazon: HDMI splitter. At worst, I'll split the cable box into the AV receiver so it operates just as it does now for my girlfriend, while also plugging into the Xbox One so I can use the xbox as they intended

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