iRant: Is Xbox Worth Your Money? Can it Compete in the Smart TV World?
Little over four years ago, after acquiring my first non nintendo system, I became a dedicated Xbox fan. Very few games on Nintendo’s Wii impressed me anymore, and besides Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Super Smash Brothers Brawl after that, took me away from my sparkling new Xbox 360. Very soon after my acquisition, an update added a new service known as “Netflix”. After signing up for the trial, I watched the first Terminator movie with my father, instantly, just by pressing a few buttons on my controller. This amazed me, and from then, I thought Xbox would dominate the Smart TV industry. Even today, it still ranks over my Wii U, and PS3 for watching entertainment, due to multiple things such as a universal search feature, as well as Kinect and Smartglass. So you might be asking yourself, what possibly happened? Roku and Apple happened. They have created alternatives that almost as well as the Xbox television suite for streaming. Is Xbox better then? What could possibly bring the Xbox 360 below the level of the PS3, Wii U, as well as Roku and Apple TV? One word, price.
To purchase an Xbox 360 unit is minimum $200, which is an extra $100 above the Roku/Apple TV. Then there is Xbox Live Gold, also known as Microsoft trying to get you to pay for free services. How much is this service? $60 a year. Here is the problem however, in order to stream Netflix, Hulu Plus, and any other video service from the Xbox 360, or even play a game online with friends, you must be an Xbox Live Gold member, even if you already subscribe to these services, plus the home screen still plasters you with advertising even if you pay a premium subscription. However, isn’t it worth it for Kinect or Smartglass? This might be hard to believe but the Kinect is another $100, and all it does well is Voice recognition. How about Smartglass? Roku, Apple, and Nintendo have already worked out their own respective touchscreen remote solutions.
This is incredibly upsetting, as rumors have begun to circulate about Microsoft releasing two different Xboxes next generation, one a high-end gaming console, another a low-end media device. The only way Microsoft can dominate the Smart TV market is by doing this, making the low-end Xbox have a built-in room wide microphone into the physical system similar to the Kinect, not require Gold to stream movies and TV shows on services you already pay for, and have a competitive price point of about $150 (possibly $100 if at all possible). Why this concerns me, is that Microsoft seems to be trying so hard to dominate this field, however they are outed by a small company selling a $50 box, with applications available on Android/iOS to control the device, and a universal search feature. Microsoft must be the ones to re dominate this market, as after the Xbox 360 was out for almost 8 years now, it finally has lived up to the promise of being a system playing all “360 degrees” of your entertainment. The problem is, it doesn’t come cheap.