News Item

The Xbox One looks like an old VCR

By John Teti • May 21, 2013

Unlike Sony—the company that held a PS4 unveiling at which they did not unveil the PS4—Microsoft was eager to give players a look at the new “Xbox One” hardware during their otherwise substance-free media event today.

Xbox One family

As you can see in this suspiciously perfect “photograph,” the console itself looks like a high-end VCR circa 1986. That’s likely to be a divisive style choice. For my part, I really dig it. I love the look of 1980s electronics, so the retro vibe works for me. It takes some of the design cues of the glossy black Xbox 360 Slim (like the air-vent grille on the top) and integrates them into a more elegant and straightforward concept. The result—conspicuously free of the traditional Xbox green—looks less like your dorky cousin’s gaming PC and more like something you’d be happy to put in your living room. And Microsoft really, really wants you to put this in your living room, to the exclusion of everything else. (They will grudgingly allow your smartphone to enter the Xbox One room, but only if you use it for that SmartGlass play-a-zillion-apps-at-once-on-your-TV horse pucky.)

Xbox One flying

Here is a picture of the Xbox One demonstrating its ability to fly.

Xbox One controller

The controller has undergone minor changes, which is fine, because the Xbox 360 controller is already excellent. The angular hump along the top of the gamepad is odd and unappealing, especially juxtaposed against the simple lines of the console itself. Did they keep the console industrial design team separate from the gamepad team? The D-pad (the cross-shaped, NES-style control in the lower left) appears to have gotten an upgrade. That would be nice, as the 360 D-pad is notoriously bad at its only function—telling things what direction to go—but we have to wait until we get our hands on the box to see how the gizmo works in practice.

Xbox One Kinect

The new Kinect looks bigger than the old one, which makes it harder to ignore, but I believe I’m up to the challenge. Early reports say that the device has been upgraded to perform better in small living spaces. Again, we’ll see. For now, all we have is this image that bears a frightening resemblance to a sideways HAL 9000.

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52 Responses to “The Xbox One looks like an old VCR”

  1. ferrarimanf355 says:

    Forza Motorsport 5 at launch. Take my money, MS.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      That’s what that front slot is for.  The system is actually download only.

  2. Citric says:

    So does the panel on the right flip down to reveal a bunch of buttons and a big digital clock?

  3. remus76 says:

    It looks like a CD playing NES.

  4. That Kinect looks like it got punched in its right eye.

  5. Kyle O'Reilly says:

    Oh god that Angular Hump on the controller really rustles my jimmies.  The xbox 360 controller is a work of art! I use it to play PC games that’s how good it is.  I hate change!  *runs off into the internet wild to bathe in the blood of his fellow fanboys*

    • HobbesMkii says:

      I want to mention too how highly impressed I’ve been with the 360 controller. With the exception of the N64 controller, most of the major consoles have featured lightweight controllers that felt flimsy to me. The N64 controller looked cool, but didn’t quite click as a control scheme (whenever I pick it up, I have to remember how to do it. For the life of me I can’t think of how you’re supposed to hit the right bumper). The only thing I’ve ever felt it needed improvement on was the length of the sticks–which you can do with the wildly overpriced clip on extenders sold by third parties. To be fair though, that’s only because I have long fingers and it feels cramped otherwise.

      This controller for the Xbox One looks a little like a cross between a 360 controller and an original Xbox’s controller. And that bulky, narrow piece of crap was a terrible input device. 

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      The 360 is my preferred method of PC gaming as well.
         Do you want to sneak down to the boiler room to make out?

         Hahahaha!  I’m kidding!

         …But we could if you want…

  6. The_Helmaroc_King says:

    I, for one, am not looking forward to our new, floating Xbox overlords. That’s just asking for tangled cables. Please tell me there are cables; I don’t want a black monolith following me from room to room with its unblinking eye, and batteries are expensive.

    • John Teti says:

      Enjoy your days of being able to speak ill of the Xbox without immediate “behavioral correction”—those days will soon be over.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        Help me! It’s turning me into a Star Baby!

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          Better than a Solarbaby.  I’ll take floating through space and time over rollerskating in a desert any day.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      That’s why I’m going with the PS4.  Once inserted rectally, you never have to think about it.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Great news, everyone!  Our mandatory Kinect hours have been reduced to just 12 per day!  And don’t forget, we’ve always been at war with Playstatia!

      • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

        HALO is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

      • Moonside_Malcontent says:

        It’ll be difficult for XBOX Live’s usual players to restrict themselves to just Two Minutes Hate a day.

  7. Binsbein says:

    Not worth the insane amount space it will probably take up.

  8. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

       I admire XBOX as the the ultimate expression of American electronics design.  It’s always been an albatross of an appliance.  Sufficient in heft to qualify as furniture during the annual moves of my twenties.
       “Hey, grab the other end of the XBOX and tilt it so we can get it through the door”.
       The original with those Texas Toast-sized controllers that made anyone but our burliest of citizens feel like a toddler gripping one.  The loud, abrasive start-up noises reminiscent of a Harley Davidson.
       And now, paring the name down to One, paired with a design reminiscent of the 2001 Monolith, threatens to condense all your entertainment needs down to a time and space-crushing singularity in the gravity well of your living room.
       It’s so gleefully obnoxious, I can’t help but love it.

  9. Colliewest says:


  10. uselessyss says:

    You didn’t mention it here, but apparently the triggers will also feature some kind of force feedback tech, which I guess means vibrating triggers?

    That sounds more intriguing than anything else in that conference.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      That sounds downright revolutionary!

    • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

      Force feedback tech? I didn’t realize midichlorian technology was so far along.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        “Use the Force Feedback, Luke!  It’ll buzz when you’re aiming at the exhaust port!”

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      I wonder what the application will be?  I like rumble in controllers, it’s a surprisingly effective way to add immersion and I’m curious what a more localized rumble will yield.

    • Girard says:

      Force feedback =/= rumble. It’s possible they mean the analog triggers have variable degrees of resistance – kind of like those old force feedback joysticks.

  11. lokimotive says:

    I find the name of this almost confrontationally odd. Considering most people were naming it the XBOX 720 long before Microsoft even acknowledged its existence, it almost seems like Microsfot just put up a big boxy black middle finger and said, Oh 720?! Hell no, you’re way off! It’s ONE! And we’re spelling it out!

    Of course, I always felt 720 would be rather nonsensical, but I have to be honest, One has kind of thrown me for a loop. I understand that they’re attempting express an omnipotence with it, but it’s rather strange that the third generation of this box is called One.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Introducing the Nintendo Wii U2, with BonoVision!

      • Citric says:

        The Wii U2, you’ll say Achtung, Baby! when you see how the graphics Pop. Backwards compatibility so you can still play All (the games) That You Can’t Leave Behind.


    yeah, it looks neat, too bad Microsoft is gonna make you jump through a dozen hoops like a fucking monkey

    no thanks

  13. Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

    The gaming elements of the system don’t really do anything for me.  But, also being a true Audio/Visual nerd, the HDMI pass-through and other media-centric elements do sound kind of neat.

  14. evanwaters says:

    Honestly I’m disappointed. If they want to make it look like a VCR, give me big, chunky buttons and light-up displays. 

  15. fieldafar says:

    It’s a day one purchase if it can flash “12:00” on the front.

  16. Steve McCoy says:

    The design is… OK. I’m definitely glad the green is gone. My biggest problem is that it’s yet another slot loader. This is marginally better than a tray loader, but still inferior to a top loader. Sony’s relearned this lesson with the PS2 and PS3; I hope they remember it for the PS4.

    Also if the Xbox One is anywhere near as loud as the 360, no amount of visual design (or even games!) will make me consider getting it.

  17. illegal_characters says:

    This shit is so gonna say “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that” when I try to play an used game. I just fucking know it.

  18. H McG says:

    “The Xbox One looks like an old VCR”.

    Clearly you don’t understand the way the industry works now. Microsoft will patent the look&feel, then sue the VCR manufacturers for infringement.

    Old VCRs look like the Xbox 1!