Xbox One: Controller and Kinect

Microsoft

A new generation of gaming hardware means a new generation of ways to actually control the games themselves. Microsoft is bringing a new controller and a new version of Kinect to Xbox One, and each one has some really important improvements that should (hopefully) making gaming better. With the DRM removed and a growing list of games already in place, we take a look at the control piece of the Xbox One puzzle.

The Xbox One Controller

First, the controller. On the surface, it hasn't changed much from the Xbox 360 controller (which was one of the best controller ever to begin with). The shape is the same and the buttons are in the same positions, but the Xbox One controller is slightly smaller than the 360 pad. There are also subtle changes under the hood with the Xbox One controller. First is that the analog sticks take 25% less force to move and the dead zone (the distance you have to move the stick to register movement) is also greatly reduced, which means you'll be much more precise with the Xbox One pad.

The d-pad has been completely redesigned for the Xbox One. An major area of complaints from gamers on the Xbox 360, the d-pad on Xbox One is a Nintendo-style cross that will be much more accurate than the disc shape d-pad on Xbox 360.

One of the coolest changes is that, in addition to the normal rumble features we're used to, the triggers will also have small rumble motors that will give you unique feedback right into your fingertips.

The example given is that in Forza 5 the triggers will give you distinct feedback when you lose traction or lock the brakes. That is pretty darn awesome.

The battery compartment is also smaller and better integrated into the back of the controller. It will be smooth instead of having that battery compartment bump on the back like the Xbox 360 pad.

The Xbox One controller also makes changes to how it is connected to the system. When you connect it to the system via the USB cable to charge it, it becomes a wired controller (which is different from the Xbox 360 controller that always sends wireless signals even when it is plugged in with USB). This lets you recharge the controller while you're using it. And, presumably (not confirmed, but likely), it will let you easily use the Xbox One controller on PC (just plug it in with USB).

Another interesting feature is that the controllers will use special technology through Kinect to instantly pair with the system. No holding down sync buttons to activate a controller anymore.

Two years after launch, Microsoft released the hardcore gamer-focused Xbox One Elite Controller with tons of new features aimed at die-hard Call of Duty and Halo fans.  See our Elite Controller FAQ for more.

Xbox One Kinect

First and foremost, Microsoft isn't watching you.  Don't worry.

The new Kinect's 3D tracking camera has three times the fidelity of the old Kinect, and a much wider field of view. This means two things. First, it will be able to see you a lot better, right down to your individual fingers. And second, it won't require nearly as much room to operate.

The 6-10 foot distance requirement for Xbox 360 Kinect is cut in half for Xbox One Kinect, so you'll only need to be about a meter away for Kinect to work.

This is pretty huge since the space requirement won't be a factor anymore. The benefits of this are pretty obvious - Kinect will be able to see you a lot better, and will be able to transfer your actions much more accurately into games as well as give you better control in games since it will track more joints and possible movements. The wider field of view and better camera also means Kinect can track up to 6 people at a time.

The 2D visual camera has also been bumped up to 1080p resolution, so your Skype video conversations with friends will look as nice as possible.

Kinect on Xbox One will also be able to see in the dark, as well as in rooms with strange ambient lighting that would cause the old Kinect to lose track of you. No more setting up the perfect light source on the perfect backdrop and making sure you wear the right colored shirt so Kinect will work properly. It will be able to track you accurately no matter what.

The audio processing of the new Kinect is also improved. In a somewhat controversial move (especially after darn near every Xbox 360 came with one) the Xbox One is not going to include a headset with the console for multiplayer gaming, though you can buy one separately. Instead, Microsoft wants you to use the microphone built into Kinect for multiplayer.

At first, this seems like a bad idea since the microphone could pick up audio from the game and other ambient sounds from your house. With a good microphone and the right audio filtering software, however, which Kinect has both, this isn't really a problem. This isn't some new and untested magic technology, either, as any half-decent off the shelf microphone for podcasting does this as well.

Kinect will be sensitive enough, Microsoft promises, that you'll be able to speak at a normal volume and it will pick your voice up, even if the TV volume is loud. Or maybe you'll just buy a $5 headset and not worry about any of this.   

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