Bringing home a new game console – or, really, any piece of entertainment hardware – is almost the closest thing that grown-ups can experience to waking up on Christmas morning as a child: a lot of anticipation, a lot of excitement, and that irresistible new toy smell all await you when you open that box up for the first time. Those same feelings and sensations greeted me when I brought home my brand new Xbox One Day One Edition. All of the fact-checking, all of the online chatter, and all of the anticipation culminated to the moment where I could crack it open, plug it in, and power it up for the first time.
If you’re at all like me and think about exactly what kind of experience the unboxing and setup brings you, then you should be happy to know that this section of the review covers this completely. What’s it look like inside? How easy is it to set up on a home theater system? What’s the update process like, and how long is it going to take? These are some of the things I’ll be going over. While I didn’t specifically create an unboxing video, there are plenty that you can find on video sharing sites around the web. This is more designed to cover the experience and the process of opening, setting up, powering on, and configuration. So, without further ado, let’s dive in and open up the Xbox One.
The very first thing that struck me about my Xbox One when I grabbed the handle on the box was its weight. Most game consoles in the box that I’ve handled (from the Super NES and Sega Genesis on up through the Xbox 360 and PS3) probably clocked in at anywhere between 5 and 6 pounds. Xbox One, on the other hand comes in at nearly 12 pounds in the box. Although I purchased the Day One Edition, the only real differences between that and the standard edition are the inclusion of a controller with a “Day One 2013” graphic on the front of it, and one extra piece of paper. So, right away, it felt like I had something substantial in my arms. Thankfully the box comes with a carrying handle on the top, making the process of carrying it to your car or bus stop pretty easy. If you plan on walking home with it, you may want to switch arms after a few minutes, since holding it in an outstretched arm can make for quite a work out.
Now, after you get home and anxiously (but carefully) cut the stickers keeping the box sealed, you open it up. The first thing you’ll see when you lift the lid is this:
From simply an aesthetic perspective, I really like what the designers did with this. Although nobody from Microsoft would ever likely admit it, it seems like they took a little bit of a lesson from the way that Apple boxes its hardware, since the minimalist design with the logo front and center reminds me in no small way of opening up an iPhone for the first time. The box itself is divided into two main parts. The one seen above houses the new Kinect sensor, as you can see above, and pulling open a couple of flaps on this layer also includes the power and connection cables for the sensor, which are both permanently affixed to it and carefully hidden under the flaps.
From there, removing the top part of the inner box will reveal the actual Xbox One console itself, housed inside by two formfitting pieces of black styrofoam and also bagged by the same material. Unbagging it reveals the box itself, ready to be set up.
Setting Up the Hardware
In truth, the ease or difficulty of actually placing your new hardware where you want it depends entirely on your home setup. I tend to work backwards, placing the included peripherals and cords where they will be going before finally placing the main piece in its new home, then easily connect everything to it. If you have an entertainment center with specifically designed alcoves for set-top boxes and game consoles, this process should be relatively painless. For my setup, I moved a previous device out of an alcove in my entertainment center, and plugged the console’s HDMI cable into my 47″ LG TV. For sound, I have an optical audio cable going from my TV into my Vizio S4251w 5.1 soundbar. So far this seems to be working pretty well, but I’m thinking of running a digital audio coax cable for the sound to see if it makes any positive difference.
The Kinect sensor needs to sit either above or below the center of the TV, and I currently have it sitting below. Right out of the box, the sensor can’t be mounted to the TV, which was also the case with the 360 sensor. A couple of third-party Kinect TV mounts are available, including one from PDP that can secure it to the top of the TV and also comes equipped with a “privacy cover,” if you find yourself being paranoid about having the all-seeing Kinect in your living room (but we won’t get into that now, that comes in a future part).
So, you now have your Xbox One all set up, with all of the cords and wires in their appropriate places, and everything sitting exactly as you want it on your entertainment center. Now comes the moment you’ve been waiting for: the first time you can turn it on.
Setting Up the Software
As most followers of news surrounding the Xbox One are undoubtedly aware, Microsoft did a little bit of backpedaling about a month after the console’s initial announcement by saying that certain online mandatory features would not be implemented after all (check out our coverage when the news broke). As a result, one of the first things you’ll need to do when you power it up for the first time is download the day one update that disables some of the first-touted online-only features.
The first part of the setup screen that you’ll see, though, is this:
After you select your language, you’ll then set your region, followed by a connection to your network. The Xbox One is one of two consoles this generation (including the PS4) to support wired LAN connections, so if that’s what you’re going with then be sure to connect it to your router when you set up everything else. Setting up a wired or wireless network is accomplished on the same network screen. After you’re connected and ready to go, then it’s time for the mandatory update, which comes in at 507 MB.
When I first downloaded the update, it took me about 8-10 minutes on my 50Mbps cable internet service. It looked like it would’ve been faster, but for some reason the download blew through the first 75% pretty quickly and slowed down to speeds that I expected for the final 25%. All in all it’s not a very painful wait, and when the download is complete the console will restart twice before getting back to finishing the setup process. When you get back to it, you set up your time zone, and then it asks you to set up your Kinect sensor.
This is probably the most interesting part of the process, since you start to see what the system is fully capable of. After confirming that your camera works, you configure the microphone to take into account any normal background noise so that it can listen for your voice at reasonable levels in a normal environment. During the setup, the console recommends that you turn your speakers up to a higher level than normal, so that it can try to calibrate for potential margins of error in listening for your voice commands.
The console will then play some loud orchestral music as you see an audio grid spike across your TV, then it checks on stereo channels to further calibrate itself before finishing up. From here, your Kinect setup is complete, and you then move on to signing in with your Microsoft account. For gamers making the transition from Xbox 360 to Xbox One, this means bringing your gamertag and all your achievements with you to the new console. Ultimately, this was the thing that made me decide in the Xbox One’s favor for my new console, since I just didn’t have the heart to leave all of that stuff behind. Plus, I love the sound of achievements popping, especially after getting a particularly tough one for a couple of hours. If you need to sign up for a Microsoft account, you can also accomplish this here.
After your profile settings are fully imported, you get to personalize things a little bit by choosing the predominant color you want the tiles on your menu screen to be, and by choosing your new gamer pic. If you imported your profile from your Xbox 360, you’ll notice that your old gamer pic is far smaller than the default setting for the Xbox One, but that’s easily remedied in your profile settings by either selecting a new pre-set gamer pic, or by making a new one from your avatar (and yes, all of your 360 avatar purchases follow you to your Xbox One). From there, you can instruct the console to either save or require your password every time you log in, and even allow your Kinect to log you in by recognizing your face. Creepy, or cool? Right now, I’m going with cool.
After that, a short video plays to further reinforce your decision to buy this console, and then you’re off and running! Overall, the process took a little longer than I liked, in large part due to the mandatory update. Depending on your internet connection speed, I imagine you’ll go from unpacking the box to playing a game in about 45 minutes to 1 hour. As a complete experience, I don’t think that’s too much to gripe about.
We’ll save some griping for later.
Click the link below for the next part of our comprehensive Xbox One review (and a slightly shorter piece), as we go in-depth with the brand new controller!
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