Is the Xbox One the best console for South Africa? Not quite

xbox one image

The Xbox One is like an unnecessarily tardy friend, always missing the interesting part of the party. Now that it has finally arrived, it’s too late, because the PS4 is already rapping and dancing to MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This.” And frankly, it’s difficult to see how the Xbox One draw attention away from that.

After South African gamers have been familiarising themselves with Sony’s latest gaming machine, the Xbox One was held back — for nearly 10 months. Finally, now that Microsoft SA’s has had its launch, we have a look at the Xbox One though the eyes of those lucky enough to get their hands on it before us, and answer the most pressing question for South African consumers: is the Xbox One the best console for our market?

In many respects, yes it certainly is. But in all others, it shouldn’t be touched with a ten foot pole.

Why it makes total sense

xbox one controller day 1

Image: Mack Male via Flickr

First things first, let’s give credit where its due — the Xbox One is a beast of a machine. Boasting 8GB RAM and a powerful SoC, the console can push 1080p, but with reduced frame rates. 720p will do just fine at 60fps though.

There are a plethora of port options too, including a nifty HDMI-in feature, allowing set top boxes to be plugged in and controlled through the console. Great, so that solves at least one pesky HDMI issue.

Anything else? Oh, the controller. Of course, the god of all controllers couldn’t really be made any more perfect than it originally was, but Microsoft has finally got rid of the awful D-pad, replacing it with a more customary plus-sign. On the whole, the gamepad is still in the same great shape from the Xbox 360 days.

Does the console promises to be the entertainment revolution South African living rooms have been waiting for?

Why it doesn’t

From a South African standpoint, here are a few reasons why the Xbox One doesn’t make sense for the local market.

Firstly, you need an internet connection with a fair bit of bandwidth. Although Microsoft got rid of the constantly-online demand for people who actually (and very rightly) shut their appliances down before they tuck in for the night, internet is a prerequisite. And so is quite a bit of power.

According to ExtremeTech, the console consumes anywhere between 18w (standby), 70w (watching Netflix) and a full 110w playing games. The latter is actually a respectable figure, but it’s the standby wattage that’s a tad too tall — especially for an appliance that is meant to remain on. South African electricity is costly, so owners of the console will want to make sure they turn it off before nodding off. The effects won’t cripple a household, but it will be noticeable.

Thirdly, and because we’re in South Africa, many of the reasons why the Xbox One was purchased overseas is negated. Netflix and Hulu Plus will shun any user attempting to connect to their services. Both streaming platforms are not official in the country, and probably won’t be for a good while, so if you’re buying the Xbox One for streaming entertainment, you’ll be left feeling a little short-changed. Not to mention the lack of thrilling exclusives. Granted, as a motorsport fan, Forza Motorsport 5 ticked many boxes, but others, I imagine, won’t be too impressed. FIFA 15 also debuts alongside the console tomorrow, but it’s by no means an exclusive.

Deal-breaker: it’s more expensive than its competition whilst offering little to no other advantages.

xbox one complete

Image: Marco Verch via Flickr

At R6 300 without the Kinect, and R6 999 with the glorified web-cam, its rival the PS4 can be had for R5 999. Debatably, the PS4 is also the more gamer-orientated machine, boasting less social media, streaming and other non-gaming additions. Sony’s machine is not without its flaws though, featuring a higher power consumption at full tilt and a less ergonomic controller. But at the price the two consoles sit at, it’s quite an investment.

So, the best option is…?

I’m most likely going to be mowed down by console-loving fans from both factions after stating this, but considering the gold bars one needs to part with, one could build a brilliant gaming PC for the same price that will play all the games at 1080p, 60fps. Granted, the system will use more power, but unavailable streaming services become options again. It will also be fully upgradeable and more adaptable. But this is a pointless caveat when preaching to the console fan.

To conclude, I personally would vouch for a PC. But if I had a gun held to my head, a good wad of cash in my pocket and handcuffed to the point of sales system at a local gaming retailer, I may just go with the PS4. But the Xbox One is still a young platform. Just recently the system gained the ability to read external hard drives — so there’s plenty of room to improve. But is it the console for the now? When stacked up against the PS4, its chances look slim.

Featured image: BagoGames via Flickr

Andy Walker, former editor


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