Initially, I didn’t get the Xbox One with Kinect bundle because I just didn’t think it was worth the extra $150. I had the Kinect for the Xbox 360, but aside from the novelty of voice control, it basically collected dust. Well, I found the Kinect add-on for the Xbox One on sale and figured it was worth a spin and I’m so glad I did.
The feature I was most excited about was facial recognition, so I didn’t have to enter my passcode to sign in all the time. Well, that definitely works well. The Xbox One just knows you are there and logs you in. However, it was the TV control features that took me by surprise and has made this–if you pardon the pun–a game-changing device.
I had seen how you can connect your cable box directly to the Xbox One and merge TV viewing into the Xbox experience, but I didn’t know that the Kinect could control devices via IR. That really makes no sense since normally an IR controller, like your TV remote, has to be pointed at the TV. The Kinect sits above it, not in line of sight. I was thinking it maybe used CEC to control things via HDMI, but from what I’ve read, this is not the case. It must be one hell of an IR blaster! Well, as Han Solo said, “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
I can walk into the room and say, “Xbox on” and the TV and Xbox power up. Then I can say, “watch TV” and the TV will display. I can even change the channel by saying something like, “watch ESPN”! When I’m done I just say, “Xbox turn off”. Of course, there are many other things you can do with voice control, but these are the coolest.
This is very Star Trekky and I love it. If you consider how much a good universal remote costs, the Kinect isn’t really too expensive. For me, Kinect is finally a useful device and something I will use every time I use the Xbox One. Can’t really say that about the 360 version. Microsoft, well done.