Thursday, July 9, 2015

Xbox Adventures.. Phase 1

So... yes! I am a proud new owner of an Xbox One, and we've spent the last week or so with it.
It came with Halo: Master Chief Collection, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Assassin's Creed Unity (which didn't arrive for a few more days).
And somehow I was convinced to get a game Eli would play, so we got another Batman game: Lego Batman 3.
Plenty of games, and it wasn't even intended as a "gaming machine".
I have played a bit of Halo (I never actually played any of them before) and some of the others... only reinforcing my bad reflexes and sense of direction and how bad I am at consoles :)
I haven't even bothered to sign up for my free trial of Xbox Live Gold yet, but if you want to be my Xbox Buddy, I am OssianGrr

As for the media stuff.. overall, great.
The FiOS app works well, and integrates with the "OneGuide" which is an interesting side effect. (This is the thing that's meant to work with HDMI-passthrough IR-blastthrough cable boxes, which I'll get back to in a moment).
Netflix, Amazon, all the usual media apps..
Unfortunately I didn't make the connection until after logging in to all of these accounts that the SmartGlass app can use your phone's keyboard, and therefore LastPass, instead of needing to use a controller to navigate an on-screen keyboard to type my random jumble. Oh well, useful for the future anyway.

We created 3 separate accounts on the system: One for me (really the "primary" account), one for Talita, and a "Kids" account for Eli with limited privileges.
Oddly annoyingly, even the "PBSKids" media app locks out 75% of its features when a 7-year-old tries to use it, but that's not really that bad.

There are some media apps that seem to be missing on the Xbox One, but are allegedly on the 360, so maybe they'll catch up soon.

And unfortunately, our receiver's "universal remote" didn't work over IR with the Xbox, so I ordered a new cheap universal remote (this one), which works absolutely great with all of our components. Despite being a little clunky to program, I recommend it as a cheap alternative to Harmony remotes.

We've experienced a couple of strange glitches, like starting up to a dark screen -- or in the middle of a Netflix movie, the screen turning into vertical lines -- but they haven't happened often enough for me to be worried.

It's definitely quieter than the PS3, and that on its own is a benefit.

One other media-related thing, which is silly and inconsequential: long ago, I bought a Region 2 DVD set of a UK-only Red Dwarf release (The Bodysnatcher Collection, note the amazon UK address). And I could play it fine on my PC with VLC, or I could watch the ripped videos, but I like the preservation of menu structures and subtitles, bonus features and such.
I tried ripping and re-burning the DVDs to make them regionless, but the PS3 still didn't like the fact that they were PAL format.  Well, good old Xbox can play the burned copies. Yeah.. really silly for something I'm probably never going to actually watch again.

So, now that we're getting used to the interface, I've got a $50 Microsoft Store credit which I'm going to apply to buying a Kinect at some point. That will change everything.. again.
So, expect a new blog post about that when it arrives.

And then  I find out that in a few months, they're revamping the entire UI of the home screen.. so it will be another learning curve.
Hopefully stable after that.

Oh.. and speaking of HDMI-passthrough cable boxes?
After we get the Kinect, which is needed for the whole IR-blaster setup, I might look into this. The article is about using a digital tuner box to get OTA channels on the Xbox interface, but allegedly it also works with cable-from-the-wall if you're paying for service. If that does work, then we could theoretically ditch the cable box, save on monthly cost, and truly have all* of our mediastuff going through the Xbox itself.

Overall I am not disappointed.
I'm very happy with my purchase!

* Except for the Chromecast, which is still useful and convenient for pushing certain types of content. And with missing "apps", and no Flash in the Xbox IE browser, Chromecast is still a convenient way to legally, freely, stream certain content to the TV without a cable box.

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