Last week we reviewed the Thrustmaster TX Racing Wheel, the best steering wheel available for Xbox One at present. Racing wheel controllers are not meant to be used on the lap – just imagine if your car’s steering wheel shifted about every time you turned or moved your legs. The TX Racing Wheel includes a clamp for attachment to a table or desk, but that’s not especially sexy and might be tough for living rooms.
Thus your best wheel mounting options are a racing wheel stand or seat. Netherlands-based company Playseat has the gaming chair market cornered, offering more than 10 different gaming chairs for racing and flight games. Given that Forza Horizon 2 is one of my top Xbox One games of 2014, I jumped at the chance to try out the Playseat Evolution Forza Motorsport Edition. Read on for my full impressions, complete with exclusive video review and unboxing and assembly videos!
It’s been almost a year since the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were released in North America, with sales reaching over 15 million units combined worldwide. While we reviewed both consoles, giving the Xbox One an Engadget score of 81 and the PS4 a score of 83, what we reviewed were the systems as they existed at launch, with some great features and a few kinks, but still lots of potential. Since then, plenty has happened for both machines — like Xbox One shedding its mandatory Kinect unit and the release of a few marquee titles like Titanfall and Destiny. To find out where each system stands today, we turn to you, our readers, to let us know about your own experiences with the two consoles. How many games have you bought? Which do you play every day? Do you still make use of options like voice control? Write a detailed review of the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 on their product pages to let us know, and we’ll feature a few of the most insightful comments in our roundup posts next month.
Image credit: Javier Domínguez Ferreiro/Flickr
Good things come to those who wait, and Microsoft’s now in the business of richly rewarding those capable of delaying their gratification. If you’ve yet to pick up an Xbox One, then holding off until November 2nd will see the company apply a $50 price drop across the range. That means that a Kinect-free Assassins Creed or Sunset Overdrive bundle will be available for just $349, while the limited edition Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare package with a custom console and controller will be priced at $449. The offer runs all the way through until January 3rd, although we’d imagine that price sticking around if it helps to make a dent in Sony’s reasonably healthier console business.
The Xbox One’s €29.99/£24.99 TV Tuner is now available, but it’s far from just a glorified channel changer for Microsoft’s console. As we mentioned, it came out only in Europe because many of us across the pond get our TV fix from over-the-air (OTA) digital TV, while most Americans have cable. But it’s opened up a lot of handy new TV watching features on the Xbox and on mobile devices with SmartGlass, too. You can now watch DVB-T, DVB-T2 and DVB-C digital TV, pause, rewind or fast forward live TV, change channels using SmartGlass and even watch TV directly on a mobile device. For a console that wants to be your entertainment hub, that’s a load of pertinent features — to see how it works, read on.
Like everybody else in the French countryside, I have a TV antenna that magically brings me 30-odd digital channels when it’s hooked up to a “décodeur TNT.” So all I had to do is plug the coax cable into the Xbox One’s TV Tuner, and the USB end of the tuner into the Xbox itself. If you have the October Xbox update, it automatically detects the device and then finds all your channels. It then gave me the option of pausing, rewinding and fast-forwarding live TV, in exchange for 4GB of hard disk space. From there, I started watching programs, using the Xbox controller to change channels via the OneGuide, favorites or a pop-up, on-screen menu. Microsoft told me that the Xbox One Media Remote would give similar functionality, and is probably a better choice for non-gaming TV viewers.
One small note: though it can perform limited time-shifting functions, the Xbox One still can’t record live TV programs. I hope Microsoft eventually adds that function, since timeshifting obviously means it’s capable, provided you’re willing to give up some disk space.
Next up: voice control. Yes, once I figured out how to pronounce Xbox in French (eeks-boax), the easiest way to change channels was to shout commands at the Kinect. Rather than a number, you can tell it which channel you want to watch by name, as in “watch Canal+.” If it doesn’t understand, it’ll provide a helpful list of commands. You can also access the OneGuide by voice, or just say something like “Xbox, what’s on Canal+?” and get more info that way, as shown above. (The screens are in French because Microsoft strictly region-locks languages to the country you’re located in, something many gaming ex-pats aren’t thrilled with.)
The best part of the new Xbox One TV Tuner is SmartGlass. The new version of the app brings full control of all TV functions, letting you change channels, view the OneGuide, and even watch live TV directly on your mobile device. Unfortunately, the latter feature is only on iOS and Windows Phone devices for now, and not Android. That said, it worked perfectly on my iPad, with a sharp, clear image, particularly on HD channels. Mobile viewing only works on your local home or work network, and there’s about 3-second delay from live TV due to buffering. Using SmartGlass proved to be the most convenient way to change channels, pause programming, control and view OneGuide and add favorite channels.
So the verdict? The Xbox One TV tuner is a handy way for us Europeans to get rid of our OTA boxes, eliminate a lot of clutter and gain a bunch of extra functionality. Having voice and Smartglass control over your TV viewing is nice, and being able to pause and skip through live TV programs is a huge bonus. The only drawbacks? Microsoft needs to streamline the operation of the system a bit, as certain functions (like flipping channels) are easier with a bog-standard remote. And of course, we strongly hope that Microsoft enables DVR recording at some point. Once that happens, you can look for my existing over-the-air decoder box on eBay.
When the long-awaited Halo: The Master Chief Collection gets released next month, the first thing players will have to do is download what’s estimated to be a 20GB update, according to developer 343 Industries. The day-one patch, which is required to unlock multiplayer features, isn’t particularly shocking when you consider that this a 4-in-1 title — still, that’s asking for a lot of hard drive space from users. “Our philosophy has been to give Halo fans the best possible experience and not compromise the quality or features of the collection,” Dan Ayoub, Halo External Development’s studio head, wrote in a blog post. “The result is that Halo: The Master Chief Collection will take up almost all of the usable space of a single Blu-ray (45 GB).” In addition, Ayoub let it be known that Spartan Ops, a co-op mode for Halo 4, won’t be coming to The Master Chief Collection until December, which will likely disappoint a few fans of the franchise. But, most importantly, how do you feel? Let us know in the comments section.
Vine’s come a long way since its early days, and now it has yet another platform it can shine on: Xbox One. With this new application for Microsoft’s gaming console, released today, users can start watching these six-second (or less) videos on a bigger screen right away. The Vine app on Xbox One comes with an interface that will be familiar to regular fans of the service, featuring Trending Tags, Playlists, Featured Users and other, more-specific categories like Comedy, DIY, Science & Tech and Sports. As Microsoft points out, this marks the fist time Vine has designed a viewing experience with TV in mind — although some people may be disappointed they can’t use Kinect to record Vines and share them directly from Xbox One. Still, let’s not forget it is only the app’s version 1.0. In the meantime, at the very least you have the option host a Vine-looping party, if that’s your sort of thing.
There’s a new game controller in town and Mad Genius hopes you won’t take the news sitting down, because it’s all about motion control and expanding the scope of your game beyond the couch. The Mad Genius Controller, which recently launched on Kickstarter, is offering precision motion control that’s compatible with any game or console. While it works in normal controller mode, its magnetically connected halves can be split to enable motion tracking features. Aiming guns and bows is said be done with 1/100th inch accuracy and it can translate a player’s movement throughout the room to the on-screen character. The device can also be programmed so that certain movements can trigger combos and holster-reaching motions could replace digging into menus to access weapons. Since the Kickstarter is still underway, Mad Genius wanted to prep two lucky Engadget readers for its arrival with a giveaway for two consoles this week. Along with Mad Genius t-shirts, one winner will receive a PS4 Destiny Bundle and the other will get an Xbox One along with Titanfall. To get in on this opportunity, just head on down to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning one of these consoles.
- Entries are handled through the Rafflecopter widget above. Comments are no longer accepted as valid methods of entry. You may enter without any obligation to social media accounts, though we may offer them as opportunities for extra entries. Your email address is required so we can get in touch with you if you win, but it will not be given to third parties.
- Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec), 18 or older! Sorry, we don’t make this rule (we hate excluding anyone), so direct your anger at our lawyers and contest laws if you have to be mad.
- Winners will be chosen randomly. One (1) winner will receive one (1) PlayStation 4 (CUH-1115A, Glacial White / Destiny Bundle) and one (1) winner will receive one (1) Xbox One (Model 1540) and one (1) copy of Titanfall for Xbox One.
- If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen. Make sure that the account you use to enter the contest includes your real name and a contact email or Facebook login. We do not track any of this information for marketing or third-party purposes.
- This unit is purely for promotional giveaway. Mad Genius Controllers, Sony, Microsoft, EA, Respawn Entertainment and Engadget / AOL are not held liable to honor warranties, exchanges or customer service.
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- Entries can be submitted until October 15th at 11:59PM ET. Good luck!
Plex has more than its share of fans thanks to its powerful and versatile streaming media capabilities. If you’ve got a video file (regardless of how you obtained it) there’s a good chance Plex can play it. And play it anywhere — on your Roku, on your tablet, you smartphone, and now on your Xbox. Starting tomorrow Plex Pass subscribers will be able to pull up their Plex library on their Xbox One. And soon enough Xbox 360 compatibility will be added as well. If you’re not a subscriber you’ll be able to buy the Xbox apps for a one time fee (how much remains to be seen, but probably around $4.99) after the preview period ends. This is also the first time that Plex has been available on a game console, at least as a native app. You could pull in video to your Xbox over DLNA, but this is much easier and cleaner. And yes, you can control your library with voice controls or gestures thanks to Kinect support.
Wherever you look, the PlayStation 4 is outselling the Xbox One by a considerable margin. In fact, Sony sold twice as many consoles in the UK as Microsoft in Destiny’s launch week, leaving its rival with another considerable hill to climb. One way Microsoft could claw back some of its lost market share is to drop the price of the Xbox One, again, which is something it’s decided to do today. To little fanfare, Microsoft slashed £20 off the price of the Kinectless Xbox One on its official store, meaning you’ll now pay only £329.99. Amazon has reacted to the price cut too, but has gone one better by offering Sunset Overdrive White Xbox One bundle pre-orders for the exactly the same price. It means that in the space of 10 months, the console has undergone three price reductions, saving late-adopters at least £100 in the process. For the time being, the Xbox One is officially cheaper than the £349.99 PlayStation 4 (which is also the subject of some seriously good deals), but as both consoles have already dipped below the £300 mark, we’re pretty sure Sony won’t be too worried by today’s discount.
If yesterday was Microsoft’s day for announcing big news (read: a $2.5 billion acquisition), today is the day it moves on to less pressing topics. The company’s hardware team just unveiled a few new accessories, including a wired Xbox One controller for PC gaming, and a portable Bluetooth keyboard that can pair with three different devices at once. Starting with the controller, this is basically the same one that already ships with the Xbox. In fact, because it comes with a battery pack in the box, you could use it wirelessly with the Xbone, in case you need a second controller. Heck, even the price is the same, at $60. The only difference? It includes a USB cable, allowing you to use it with a Windows PC. Unfortunately, for now, at least, the controller can’t be used wirelessly with a PC. Then again, the last-gen Xbox 360 controller started as wired-only, but later got a dongle, allowing you to use it wirelessly. So maybe Microsoft will follow a similar timetable with the Xbone controller.
Moving on, the Universal Mobile Keyboard ($70) uses Bluetooth to pair with up to three devices. It’ll work with any operating system — not just Windows — but you can only pair with one gadget per OS at a time. Of note: The keyboard portion is detachable, meaning you could leave the tablet propped up in the built-in stand and put the keyboard on your lap. In my hands-on, I found the small buttons surprisingly easy to type on, save for the tiny Delete key. All told, too, the stand is sturdy enough to support some fairly big devices, including the 12-inch Samsung Galaxy Note Pro. Basically, you can use it with any tablet so long as it’s not too thick. That means an iPad with no Smart Cover is OK, but an older-gen Surface Pro probably won’t fit. Finally, Microsoft is also re-releasing its foldable Arc Touch Mouse, except this time it’ll come in gray and won’t have any Surface branding on it. It will still cost $70.
All of the above go on sale this fall, in time for the holiday shopping season, with the keyboard and mouse arriving in October and the controller landing sometime in November. Because no: It is not too early to start thinking about stocking stuffers.