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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 6:08 AM 
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Since my RSS reader is full of Kinect stuff right now I figure it's ok to post this. I was invited to the beta in August, received my sensor just before Labour Day and have been using it since along with the new dashboard. Most of my testing time has been on the Kinect. Kind of a long read but I figure this is a pretty interesting device.

Space
You need to have a fair bit of room to use Kinect. Microsoft recommends a minimum of 6’ from the camera to the play space for a single player, 8’ for two, but I found this to be a little too close. Your height will play a big part as I am 6’ tall and needed to be at least 7’ from the camera to be able to play games that require your full body to be seen. With my living room this posed a problem as I only had 7’ of free space between the TV and my sofa. I ended up jury rigging a wall mount above the TV to get the needed room and once that was done it worked fairly flawlessly. When I had friends over I had to move my sofa to get the room to play. A bit of an annoyance to be sure

The background behind your play area seems to have an effect as well. My sofa is black, soft and squishy textured, and the lighting is ambient (ceiling reflected). The camera would sometimes have problems seeing the bottom of my legs if I got too close to the sofa. Once the sofa was removed I never had a problem. I think with a bigger room this will not be an issue, but it is something to keep in mind if you have a small space in which you are going to try and use it.

Dashboard
The xbox dash is switchable between two modes. The normal dashboard used with a controller which we are used to and the Kinect version which is accessible when wave your hand or say “Xbox Kinect”.

The Kinect Dashboard is a stripped down version of what’s normally available. You will have 8 big icons per page showing games, Zune, options, friends, etc. These commands can be accessed using hand motions by hovering your hand over the icon to activate and most can also be activated with voice commands. The visuals are setup for ease of use with hand selection, everything is bigger and simpler than you would see in the normal dash.

To be honest I found myself using voice commands more often than motion. It was neat to wave my hand around, but going through multiple selections gets a little annoying. At first I was speaking to it as I would my phone; I pretty much yelled hoping it would understand. They have done an amazing job with how well it picks up and you only need to use a normal conversational voice level. Even with my crazy canuck accent it worked fine.

Another interesting feature is how you are recognised. There is a app called “Kinect ID” which runs you through a quick process that lets the sensor see your face and features and is used to automatically log you in. At first I thought this was kind of silly as I am the only user in my house it doesn't really matter as I’m always logged in. This changed when I had others over playing a game. I had 2 friends playing with me watching and they were assigned guest avatars to use. As soon as I moved back in to play the sensor would recognise me and load up my profile as one of the active ones. It was pretty damn cool and in a family setting I could see it being very useful, there is no need to swap accounts in and out.

Zune (and ESPN)
I only have experience with Zune but most of this will be the same for ESPN.

It’s with the video applications that the voice commands and motion control shine in regards to the dashboard. Play, pause, rewind, and fast-forward are all simple voice commands. The motion controls can be brought up by waving your hand and then grabbing the scroll bar to flip through scenes. Selecting videos and flipping through the Zune interface is just like Minority Report. You wave your hand around to move through the menus.

The bad parts here is that Netflix and the built in video/music player does not use the Kinect features. I’m not entirely sure why this is, but I believe with Netflix it is up to them to update the xbox player to use the full functions. For the built in media player I feel that it is Microsoft's way of trying to get people to use Zune.

Games
I can only talk about the release game that I have, Kinect Adventures and I was able to get a small way into the game so this is mainly based on the first 4 adventures. Strangely, it’s pretty damn fun even though it is basically a collection of mini games. These seem to be created as a way to demonstrate what you can do with the sensor but the whole concept works well as an included game. One of the mini games in Adventures has you using both feet and hands, and your head at the same time. It is picking up 5 individual aspects of the player to progress your through that part of the game. It’s very natural, no real explanation is needed on just what you are supposed to be doing. An automatic photo mode is part of it as well, so when you are in the middle of some contorted position the game grabs a still that can be shared online. I just hope they have a penis recognition algorithm...

As a note, the PS3 Move media campaign talked about the need for buttons. This is true, future games with Kinect could be much better with a controller but I found that there is no problem at all sensing the position of my hand when I’m holding a normal controller, so it’s kind of a moot point. You can easily see developers making a game that can have the player holding a normal controller in the right hand with full access to the face buttons, an analogue stick, a bumper and a trigger. You can also see MS selling a new controller with just that and a strap so you don’t fling it through your TV and charging you 50$ for it.

My Opinion
Basically, it’s good, very very good, but I wouldn’t buy it for my uses right now.

Let me explain that. The games are all fun, but fun in a group setting. With the limitations of my play space that is a bit of a pain in the ass because I need to move furniture to make it work for two people. The lack of support in Netflix and the built in media player are also big minuses. There is also the fact that the games I normally play are not represented on Kinect. Yet. I do see this changing in the future though, Netflix is sure to get the support and the future is open for what dev’s can do with it for gaming.

There’s two groups I think should get this as it is right now. Those who entertain and have the space (~10-12’) and those with children. As a gaming setup for people who don’t game it’s just about perfect. There is really nothing that you need to learn to play; you just stand there and move. Every game that’s coming out with this launch is kid friendly and I see this as Microsoft's main target with this system. Get the whole family, parents to kids, up off the sofa moving around as a group.

tl;dr It’s good. You need a lot of space. Buy it if you have kids.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:07 PM 
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I'm confused. Why would lack of support for Netflix be a concern? Can't you just grab your regular controller and press the play button once?

Arduous task? =p Or is there some annoyance like you have to re-calibrate when you switch between controllers?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:23 PM 
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I'm the friend that wrote this, had it on the Vita forums. Haven't been here in a while :p

It's not that you have to recalibrate or anything, its just an annoyance. You get used to being able to speak commands using Zune (and ESPN, not that I tested it) but you don't get to do that using Netflix or the built-in player. It gives the impression that this wasn't fully completed from a functional integration standpoint, they got enough working to show what it can do and they will finish it later. I fully expect Netflix to have voice/motion (still under NDA for why I expect that) and I assume this is just a matter of waiting for Netflix to update the app used with the 360.

For the built-in player I don't expect it to get updated at all, same with the media extender.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 2:10 PM 
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You'll see an update for the built-in player. 100%.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 2:51 PM 
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You failed to mention the terrible selection of titles for it, and the abysmal selection that is six months out.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:44 AM 
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Also the fact that it's basically the dumbest thing ever, and costs a lot of money.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:16 PM 
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It's quite far from the "dumbest thing ever". But they really did release it too early by not having the lineup or some use for the features they demo'd to us in the tech labs earlier this year. The unpublished shit this thing can do, at least with regards to the Optical Recognition was insane. I'm surprised they didn't do more with it.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:41 PM 
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It looks like it has very impressive motion recognition from what I've seen of it, but yea, I don't see anything that it'd be worth buying for. Maybe a few years down the road they'll release a good game for it? Who knows. Nice techie gadget with nothing fun to do with it.


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