Microsoft’s new console hit shelves on Friday and, like the PlayStation4, the Xbox One has gotten a tremendous amount of attention. Here are a few need-to-know details on the new console by Microsoft.

How much does it cost?

The retail price for the console is $499.99. If you decide to go with a bundle (console + 1 or 2 games + extra controller), expect to pay at least $600.

What games does it play?

Right now, you can buy several new installments for existing popular game franchises such as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Dead Rising 3, Call of Duty: Ghosts, FIFA 14, Just Dance 2014, and Lego Marvel Universe, as well as brand-new titles such as the family-friendly Zoo TycoonClick here to see a complete list of Xbox One launch titles.

Xbox One Launch Titles

Source: Trusted Reviews

What’s new?

In numerous ways, the Xbox One is a dramatic improvement over the Xbox 360. A cleaner and more intuitive user interface makes browsing through lists of games or friends a hassle-free process. Multiple processors allow numerous apps to run concurrently, which means you can browse the internet while watching TV or playing a game. And the ability to easily record 30-second clips of gameplay to send to friends is just one of several features designed to make online interaction easier than ever.

The new Kinect’s improved voice control makes some of the clunkier parts of controller navigation a little more smooth. And Xbox’s snappy facial recognition allows for the device to automatically greet you (and log you in) when you walk within camera range. Part futuristic, part spooky, 100% cool.

The new Xbox controller is improved from the Xbox 360, though the changes aren’t dramatic. Most obviously, the D-pad is much more accurate and satisfying. Microsoft SmartGlass is a downloadable app for mobile devices that enables second-screen functions, which has exciting potential for new game development.

What else can it do?

Microsoft really set out to build a device that would appeal to the entire family, gamers and non-gamers alike. Wondering why they decided to call their third generation console the “One?” It’s because this device is meant to be the one and only box you’ll ever need.


The new OneGuide TV programming grid

Xbox One meshes perfectly with your pre-existing cable subscription, so that with simple voice commands to the Kinect you can switch between channels and run apps concurrently with TV. Xbox has even designed its own channel guide (above), and if you have the SmartGlass app on your smartphone or tablet, you can get relevant info about whatever you’re watching sent straight to your device. It’s never been easier to switch between watching Batman and playing Batman. As Microsoft puts it, this new design will make “switching inputs seem almost prehistoric.”

The smooth integration of apps such as Skype, Netflix, ESPN, and Hulu Plus has been designed to make switching between activities as easy as possible. However, you’re going to need Xbox Live Gold for most online features. Gold typically costs $60 for a 12-month subscription. Luckily, Xbox has improved sharing for Gold members, so now anyone using your device can also use your Gold membership even if you’re not logged in. And if you’re gaming at friends’ houses, you can share Gold activities with them, too.

Xbox One with controller and Kinect

Xbox One with controller and Kinect

Why upgrade?

The Xbox 360 came out in 2005—eight years ago. In other words, it had a very long shelf life. Games on the 360 are still great today. The Xbox One is definitely an investment, but its vastly superior tech specs mean that cutting-edge games and content will be produced for it for a long time. Plus, the One takes a  lot of risks that other consoles today aren’t taking. You won’t get this kind of full-entertainment integration from your WiiU or PS4.

Whether or not you take the leap, game design from here on out is just going to get better and better, thanks to the new capabilities provided by the One and the PS4. And keep in mind—there is no hurry on these systems. They will still be interesting and fun a few months from now, and you won’t have to deal with the Christmas rush if you wait.

If you’ve never had a console that connects to the internet, like Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, consider taking this opportunity to buy an old system with a cheaper price tag. This purchase won’t give you the same longevity as a next-gen console, but it might be a good way to test the waters.

How do I get one?

It’s going to be a bit of a struggle to nab an Xbox One before Christmas, but it’s not impossible. Some units are being kept on reserve for Black Friday, if waiting in line is your style. Or, you can monitor the online preorder situation by using sites like NowInStock or Zoolert.

Again, there is no shame in waiting a few months, at which point there will be more comprehensive reviews and updates to wrap your brain around.

Want more info on the Xbox One? Check out Xbox Wire for official updates.

Did you wait in line for an Xbox One? Tell us about it in the comments.

This article was written by

Courtney is Pixelkin's Associate Managing Editor. While working with the Girl Scouts of Northern California, she mentored young girls in teamwork, leadership, personal responsibility, and safety. Today, she spends her time studying adolescent development and using literary analysis techniques to examine video games.