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Xbox One vs. Xbox 360: Is It Time To Upgrade Yet?
The Xbox One is coming up on its second anniversary, and while the Xbox 360 was a console champion in the previous generation (we’re not counting the Wii here, as that’s a whole separate discussion) its successor has not seen the same booming success. Many 360 owners have either jumped to a different console or continued on with their 360. But two years later, is now the time to finally take the plunge?
While the Xbox One does a lot of things that are not game related, we’re starting with the games because they matter the most. Much like the PS4, many current games are seeing releases on both Xbox consoles through the end of this year. Unfortunately, that seems to be changing soon. Microsoft has previously stated they will be ending support for the 360 in 2016, so gamers will start to see a hard push toward the Xbox One next year.
That isn’t as dire as it sounds however, as Microsoft shocked everybody this past June when they announced that the Xbox One would add backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games. This is by far the biggest thing to happen to the Xbox One since launch, and a major reason to consider upgrading. It will not cover all games, but beginning with the November system update. Microsoft says that more than 100 games will be backwards compatible, with more being added over time. As a member of the Xbox Live Preview Program, I’ve been able to play a limited number of backwards compatible games and they work as well as they did on the 360. This means that all the money you have dropped on 360 titles over the last decade will not be wasted, which is a very good thing.
Also, there's a little game called Halo 5 coming out in October, which is kind of a big deal if you're an Xbox gamer.
The Xbox 360’s game controller was dangerously close to being the world’s most perfect input device. Microsoft did themselves a favor by not making any major changes to it. They did replace the 360’s terrible D-Pad with a traditional directional pad, which was definitely needed, but all other changes have just been polish. Your fingers grip the sticks a little better; the triggers and bumped buttons are larger; and the triggers now have their own rumble built in, which is a thing nobody needs, but we’ll happily take.
There is also a new controller design that adds a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can plug in headphones or a headset without using the otherwise required stereo audio adapter. As Slickdealer iiispeck points out, both control configurations have upsides and downsides. The audio adapter requires you to spend $20 more, but gives you discrete game and chat volume control at your fingertips. Using the standard headset jack saves you the money, but requires you to make audio adjustments in the console menu, which means you can't make minor adjustments on the fly.
Xbox has its own activity feed, not unlike Facebook. While the social media aspects of the Xbox One are not as robust as the PS4, they are there so you can see what your friends are playing, view game clips they've recorded and comment on them like you would any other social media platform. Streaming via Twitch works well, and the ability to take screenshots and make video clips to share with friends is simple and intuitive.
Xbox Live has always been a necessary part of the Xbox experience, and that hasn’t changed with the Xbox One. The Games With Gold feature of monthly free games has carried over from the 360, and there are also weekly game discounts, so eventually that game you’re waiting on will hit the price point you’re looking for.
The Xbox One is a technical improvement over the 360. It includes a massive upgrade in RAM, and the number of processor cores increases from three to eight. Much like the PS3 vs. the PS4, the jump in performance as far as graphics quality in your gaming is more of an evolution than a revolution, but you won't be disappointed in the performance that you get. Your hard drive space jumps from the 500GB maximum on the 360 to a minimum of 500GB on the Xbox One with a 1 TB model also available. While this space may go quickly depending on how many games you own (since all games need to be downloaded onto the hard drive), external drives can be added.
Another reason to consider upgrading now is the integration of Windows 10. Since Windows 10 launched in July and is available free to everybody who has an OS newer than Vista, most PC owners now have the ability to access more features of their Xbox One via their computer. This includes the ability to stream your Xbox One games to your Windows 10 PC and play competitive games across the two platforms.
Xbox One will be receiving its own Windows 10 update this fall, which will only add to the ways the two systems will work together.
The price was a major issue at the Xbox One’s launch, as its $499 price point was the highest among consoles. The fact that this price was due to the “required” Kinect camera system, which many people didn't want, didn’t make the Xbox One a lot of friends early on. Microsoft then removed the Kinect, dropping the price to $399, and then they instituted a “holiday deal” at $349, which has remained in place since then. There is also a $399 model with a 1 TB hard drive, as opposed to the standard 500 GB.
Your best option is to find a good bundle that includes additional games or accessories for the same $349 price point. We’ve seen occasional console deals as low as $288, and it wasn't even during Black Friday or Cyber Monday. However, that's usually the best time of the year for gaming console deals. Last Black Friday saw deals around $329 from several retailers (though Wal-Mart and Target added store gift cards on top of the deal, making their bundles better overall) back when retail price was $399, so expect to see sub $280 deals this year. Best Buy is also a popular retailer to get gaming consoles from because you can always get an extra 10 percent off with the Movers Coupon, which will at least cover sales tax. Remember not to get too fixated on just the price, though. A bundle might cost an extra $40 or so, but you could be getting games, gift cards or other bonus items worth $100+ in value.
You can also help reduce the cost of a new Xbox One by trading in your 360. At the moment, you can get about $50 from Gamestop, but you may be able to find more for your trade-in elsewhere.
With 360 backwards compatibility open to all in November, a Black Friday deal on an Xbox One is probably exactly what you should be looking for. You can upgrade to a new console without losing all your old games, while gaining all the new games and features.
Images courtesy of Xbox, Amazon.com
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