Microsoft Xbox One vs Sony PS4: in depth

media smarts

Microsoft Xbox One vs Sony PS4: in depth

The Xbox One is aiming to be the centre of your living room, where it can control your digital existence using voice and gestures alone.

It has HDMI pass-through which means you plug your Freeview, Freesat, Sky or Virgin PVR into the HDMI input, and then plug the Xbox into your TV or AV receiver as normal. This means that you can watch TV through the Xbox One and 'snap' what you're watching (via a Kinect voice command no less) to the side, letting you game and catch up with the footy at the same time.

Sadly for Brits, the OneGuide (which serves up your PVRs TV guide) isn’t yet available in the UK. That means you can't browse channels and shows, set recordings and channel surf with Kinect's voice control ability. Gamers in the US can however get the full Xbox One TV treatment. Boo.

In the UK you can however adjust volume, pause and play, and you can set up your remote to work with the Xbox One by setting it up with the relevant code.

The PS4 on the other hand doesn't shake hands with your Sky box, but makes up for it in other ways. For starters if you've got a PlayStation Vita, you can play PS4 games streamed directly to the handheld meaning the action doesn't have to stop when your TV's been commandeered for X Factor. It's just like the Wii U's tablet, and it's a fantastic feature for Vita owners.

Another bonus for the PS4 is the fact that you can upgrade its hard drive with a standard 2.5in offering. Considering that game downloads can reach 50GB and the fact that its OS and various system files take up 93GB, this is a massive plus, especially if you want to load it up with a vast media collection.

Microsoft's list of UK media partners at launch include 4OD Netflix, Lovefilm, Blinkbox, Crackle, Eurosport, Machinima, Muzu TV, Ted Talks, Twitch and, but unlike PS4, the Xbox One won't support iPlayer at launch, though Microsoft, in an interview with CNET, stated that it is "…working to bring BBC iPlayer to Xbox One in the future". 

The PS4's streaming services including Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, Crunchyroll, EPIX, NBA Game Time, Netflix, NHL GameCenter LIVE, Redbox Instant by Verizon, VUDU, YuppTV.


Microsoft Xbox One vs Sony PS4: in depth
Microsoft Xbox One vs Sony PS4: in depth

Both the Xbox One with its Kinect and the PS4 with its Eye will be watching you game. The second-gen Kinect has a truly astonishing array of skills – it can track how much force you're exerting, log you in using facial recognition, monitor your mood and even read your heart rate. 

Can Sony's second attempt at the Eye match up? Well it too offers recognition to log in, has two 1280x800 resolution cameras, four mics for voice control (though it's much more limited than the Kinect) and an 85-degree field of view. The Eye will also play nice with PlayStation Move controllers, if you've still got them knocking around.

The Kinect is unarguably the superior bit of kit, and its voice recognition works perfectly  nine times out of ten. When it does, you're filled with a sense of childlike wonder. When it doesn't you reach for the controller in frustration. But its potential is enormous and we have to hand it to Microsoft for pushing the boundaries and injecting our living rooms with something so futuristic.

The fact that the Kinect comes bundles with every Xbox One console will also encourage developers to create compatible titles for it, while the PS4 Camera, which is sold separately at £45, could be relatively neglected. Considering what the new Kinect could theoretically do for future gameplay, that's worth considering.

Read our Xbox One Kinect first look review