Xbox One Review: Pros and Cons for Gamers, Parents

Written by Alan Wallace

Xbox One is billed as the gaming machine of all gaming machines and promises to be the tool that will centralize your living room. But careful with those great expectations. Alan Wallace reviews. — Microsoft released its Xbox One with some really unique marketing methods. It’s billed as the gaming machine of all gaming machines and promoted as a tool that will centralize your living room. But with great expectations come expectations that are never really met, leaving one hoping for an update to come soon that will solve the problems.

Unfortunately, Microsoft also breaks tradition, where in the past it has gone the extra mile to be backwards-compatible. No more. If you have a great collection of Xbox 360 discs, make sure you keep that old Xbox 360 plugged in. At least until you replace your games with the new Xbox One-compatible versions.

2ee2bdea-1550-47b8-b136-ce1d836ebb07Uniquely Cool

Early units of Xbox One carry “Day One” branding which certainly is a unique way to instill demand for immediate purchasing before Black Friday. Some of the games carry this branding, too. Later, when you buy another controller, you will find yourself battling to see who gets to use the Day One-branded controller (which is just like the controller that does not say Day One). You do have gamer creds on the line after all.

I’m impressed with the Voice Control functions, although I’m hoping to eventually remember key phrases better than I have so far. It is odd to find yourself sitting in front of the TV yelling at it for reasons other than a sporting event or the news. Also saying, “Xbox turn on” reminds me a great deal of Captain Kirk saying something like, “Computer, put on main screen.”  Impressive, though, is its recognition of what I say at normal volume levels even if I instinctively feel that I should talk louder than normal — I don’t.

Early Support Issues

I heard one initial support issue includes a small percentage of DVD drives ejecting when you don’t want them to. I am also having issues with DIRECTV working, then not working (check cables, replace cables, works, does not work, back to the shop, support issues). The new unit works great — then 24 hours later the same error (0x8027025a) with the DIRECTV Genie HD DVR. I wonder when the update will come.

Setting Up Controls for Children

So now there is a new central unit in the living room for gaming and also for control of the TV. There are two profiles set — one for me and one for my 12-year-old. I recommend setting a password and passphrase for the master account that your kids will not know, just in case they try to log in as you.

An issue I have here is that if Junior tries repeatedly to do something he should not, suddenly I am having to reset my Microsoft passwords again, messing up all of my personal accounts, and my corporate and personal machines. I’m getting tired of that issue and hope that Microsoft will find a better solution for this. The thing that baffles me the most so far is that Xbox One Parental Controls are not even as good as those on the XBOX 360. This is really disappointing.

Could We Have Better Parental Controls?

Xbox One is billed as a central device for the living room and it really does become that when you connect your cable provider to the unit and centralize the control. What I would like to do is set access controls for everyone else. I would like parents to have one set of rules and children another. Rules would include the ability to set hours to access and total time of use per cycle.

I would also like to have a reset time for the missing Family Timer. Setting it at midnight means kids would stay up to reset the clock — like on the Xbox 360.

I used to set hours of use for the Xbox 360 on my router. But if I do this for the Xbox One, I lose my ability to access properly when I’m still up.

I had real hopes for an integration of the Family Controls on Xbox Live with this new unit. This is disappointing. I would really like to go to a family page, for example, and define one set of rules, set the hours for gaming, phones and computers and have the rules apply where they may. But I can’t.

Say your 12-year-old wants to stay awake ’till you fall asleep so he can play on into the night. You had better take the controllers with you to bed. Otherwise you are out of luck.

I know sometimes companies think that the more parental-type controls we put on things the less they will sell. I have been in those meetings as an exec and heard exactly that. But as a parent, my honest feedback is that the more you help me as a parent, the more likely I am to buy your product. There’s just too much junk out there.

I love the Xbox One. The graphics are amazing, the sound is so realistic and the speed is superb. I understand why this unit cannot play older games. Microsoft really stepped up the hardware. But in future updates, I would really appreciate seeing integration of the Xbox Live Family Controls and the Family Timer. In my opinion this is the only thing that is below par and hopefully a fix will come soon.

For, I’m Alan Wallace.

Based in Seattle, Alan Wallace is a senior contributor and on our security team here at He previously has worked as a London-based foreign correspondent for UPI. He also founded InterActive Agency, the first Internet-focused ad agency. Alan later joined Live365, where he served as a vice-president and oversaw its rise to the No.1 Internet radio network spot. He has been a judge for the Codie Awards for nearly a decade. Got a question, comment or story idea for Alan? Email him at, or contact him at +Alan Wallace.