Xbox One X: The Ultimate Entertainment Console?

Posted on November 6, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Xbox One, Music + Videos with 49 Comments

The Xbox One X’s $500 price tag may take it out of the running when it comes to dedicated set-top boxes. But if you’re getting it to play 4K/HDR games anyway, you’ll find that this is, in fact, one of the most versatile devices you can put in your living room.

From an entertainment app perspective, the Xbox One X is no different from any Xbox One, of course: It supports all the popular apps, including Amazon Video, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, Sling TV, Spotify, YouTube, YouTube TV, and more. If you’ve got a compatible set, it supports 4K video (like all Xbox Ones) and HDR (like Xbox One S) too through many of those apps, too.

Cord-cutting with Xbox One X and YouTube TV.

It’s also the only dedicated set-top box that can access Microsoft’s Movies & TV service. So if you’ve purchased content from there—shame on you—or want high-quality rentals, this is a great source.

As for the other big two content providers, it’s a mixed bag. Apple, of course, is only supported on the firm’s own devices, like Apple TV. And Google’s music service is nowhere to be seen, though as I pointed out in the past (for Apple TV), you can access Google Play Movies & TV content through the YouTube app, which is available. It works fine on Xbox One X too. (Though in HD only. Any 4K purchased content is not available in 4K.)

Like the Xbox One S, the Xbox One X has another major advantage over inexpensive set-top boxes like Roku and Apple TV: It can play Blu-Ray discs in both 4K/UHD and HDR. The quality is astonishing and makes a good argument for anyone not sold on our streaming video future. (You will need to install Microsoft’s free Blu-ray Player app first.)

I’m not currently testing this, but Xbox One X—like all Xbox Ones—can also pass-through and control your old-school cable or satellite TV setup, your AV receiver, and more. Unique among Xbox Ones, the Xbox One X also supports Dolby Atmos spatial sound in addition to standard surround sound. It’s full meal deal.

That said, there is one additional purchase you’ll need is a dedicated remote control: The Xbox One Controller is great for games, but it’s a bit awkward for media, and it will shut down after short periods of non-use.

Microsoft still sells the original stubby Xbox One Media Remote, but I’m curious they’ve never updated it. That remote is OK, but I strongly recommend getting a Logitech Harmony smart remote, like the one I wrote about last week. This thing is money, and once you do take the plunge, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.

So is the Xbox One X the ultimate entertainment console? The answer, obviously, is yes. But that power comes at a price, and my recommendation, for now, is to come for 4K/UHD/HDR games if you have compatible hardware. The entertainment functionality is just a neat extra that you’ll come to appreciate.


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Comments (49)

49 responses to “Xbox One X: The Ultimate Entertainment Console?”

  1. Bats

    $500 for an ultimate products that needs another $500 product....and will be obsolete next year? That's not exactly a super great investment.

    I am going to bookmark this post, because I see similarities between this post and the posts where Paul Thurrott tried to make the argument for the original Xbox One.

  2. George Rae

    A game change would be having Disney’s Movies Anywhere app on Xbox. Can’t believe they got the permissions required

    • Rob_Wade

      In reply to Sectime: How on earth would that be a game changer? Until recently, I could link any Disney corporation movies to Vudu. Once again, I'm being forced to DISintegrate my libraries because various companies think it's a good thing to give the finger to customers and make their product line separate. I'm sick of this.

  3. DaveMcLain

    Does Microsoft have an app for Windows 10 to allow you to play blu-ray and UHD blu-ray disks on a PC?

    • FreeJAC

      In reply to DaveMcLain:

      No. As of Windows 10, Windows no longer contains codecs for physical media. You have to rely on apps that have the playback licenses.

      • Tallin

        In reply to FreeJAC:

        No version of Windows without Media Center ever has, and that only ever included DVD codecs. I haven't checked in a while, but last I did there was no UWP Blu-ray app for PCs. It probably has to do with the ten devices limit allowed. Instead you have to get a Win32 app that does it. There may be some free choices available, but from what I've found those are hit or miss, mostly miss.

    • chaad_losan

      In reply to DaveMcLain:

      you need the cyberlink dvd player to do that. it costs money. It does come with some of the higher priced LG external Blu-ray drives. And plays blurays and 3d blurays awesomely. I do not know if any 4k disk playback solution exists on windows. But If your going to play 4k UHD disks, just get an XBOX ONE S. It's an amazing machine at 4k streaming and disk playing and supports HDR. It's cheap at about $250, and plays games and has tons of streaming apps to boot. I have one and just wow. If your computer comes with a dvd or bluray drive, it usually comes with the cyberlink software, from major computer producers like HP, Dell, etc...

      Basically Microsoft didn't want to pay the MPEG group royalties anymore, so they removed the native DVD playback ability from windows. And left it up to 3rd parties.

  4. Kevin

    If Microsoft added full DVR capability tied to OneGuide along with a new Media Center Remote with a microphone, it would be a near perfect device. Personally, I preferred the original dashboard that was media focused. It sold my dad and brother on it as their primary media hub. The way it is now, they chose to disconnect it and just run it on a separate input from their cable. They don't use it nearly as much as a result.

    If MS could simplify the Dashboard and make it user friendly, they could partner with Cable Companies to offer subsidized Xbox One X systems and even offer shared revenue from purchases of movies and TV shows from the store. A deal like this would move millions of consoles especially if it replaced the cable box. And Yeah.. An inexpensive Xbox TV which only accesses media and Apps, would be great for other rooms where gaming isn't important, but media access is.

    • bassoprofundo

      In reply to drewidian:

      I'm with you here. I know it's a pipe dream, but after the demise of MCE and the announcement of DVR coming to the XB1, I was ready to let it replace my HTPC. Killed me when they changed their mind on DVR (and on entertainment apps in general)... That HTPC is still humming along for now awaiting a capable replacement (or MS cutting off EPG data :( ) I still don't see any reason they couldn't have furthered the entertainment capabilities in tandem with the emphasis on gaming... ugh...

  5. bfarkas

    Remember there is always the HDMI passthrough. I enjoy using and have the gf trained on firetv interface, so for years have had an Xbox, with firetv connected to the passthrough, using different streaming services(currently PlayStation Vue, Netflix, Amazon video obviously, and hbo) combined with a harmony remote, reconfigured the buttons so quick press on each button controls the firetv and a long press controls the Xbox. It takes a bit to setup, but works well. I imagine would be the same with a Chromecast or Roku type device. Although I enjoy that it is a Sony service on an Amazon device run and controlled by Microsoft's xbox, and yes the voice commands work. All I need is a Nintendo tv to complete the full tech bastardization setup.

  6. lezmaka

    "it supports 4K video (like all Xbox Ones)"

    What? The original Xbox One supports 4K video?

  7. Stooks

    Apple beat the music industry and the consumer won in the end. You can get any music (basically) DRM free for a decent price from Apple to Walmart.

    The video content industry saw this and they will never allow Apple or anyone else to do this to them and the consumer loses.

    There is NOT a single device solution that I know of. All of them will have some holes in their solution. The Xbox is great but as you pointed out you can't get some Google stuff and no iTunes content either. As more and more content providers come up with their own solutions this gap will grow on all devices. Will the Xbox get the new Disney content?

    • Rob_Wade

      In reply to Stooks: Well, I won't buy from Apple. They can die, as far as I care. It just sickens me that I will no longer be able to buy and download music via the Microsoft Store. One account, fully integrated with our virtual library. Now, nothing.

      • nbplopes

        In reply to Rob_Wade:

        Wha does Apple has to do with it? Can you care to explain?

        Because it look like by your remark that somehow MS demise over the Music business has to do with Apple wrong doings on that business or something. You can always choose Google, Amazon or something else.

  8. TroyTruax

    Don't forget that if you have a large local media collection the Xbox One can be a Plex media server.

  9. Tony Barrett

    I think MS have given up on making Xbox the center of the living room, just like they did with Media Center. Sure, it can *do* live TV, and it can pass through an external HDMI connection, but in reality, I expect a minuscule fraction of owners actually do this. You can stream Netflix or Amazon on a huge number of different devices already - most way smaller, quieter and using less power. This is one of the reasons Xbox had such a disastrous launch - because MS made too big a deal about the media capabilities and less about the games. Honestly, they never really recovered, but this 'X' thing is more about the games, and I think that's where MS will focus it. The PS4/Pro has *always* been about the gamers though - something that's been paying off for Sony ever since.

    • Roger Ramjet

      In reply to ghostrider:

      Not sure how the power thing works, but Xbox probably draws only a fraction of full power in video streaming mode. Would be interesting to see a factual comparison of power draw of all these boxes. But for the 1X specifically most reviewers have declared it extremely quiet.

  10. pwrof3

    As you've said before, Paul, it's like taking a Mack truck to the grocery store.

  11. MattHewitt

    I wish Microsoft would update its Xbox One Media Remote to include a microphone for Cortana. That seems like a no-brainer.

  12. lecter

    As far as I know the Xbox One S also supports Dolby Atmos.

  13. maethorechannen

    I’m curious they’ve never updated it.

    I'm not. I just don't see Phil Spencer doing anything non-game related if he can avoid it and updating the media remote is easily avoidable.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to maethorechannen:

      I was thinking the same thing. Microsoft seems to have really doubled-down on the gaming focus, almost exclusively. I think it's an understandable, but unfortunate, over-correction to the under-whelming (and I'm being generous) Xbox One launch. Meanwhile Sony added Playstation Vue, which is arguably a more widely desired non-gaming feature than is the Xbox's Blu Ray player, and brings it closer to being a "one box" solution.

      It seems Microsoft has ceded the larger battle for the average consumer's living room and is content to go after console *gamers*. This is consistent with their retrenchment (and now retreat) in mobile, and their dropping Groove Music service.

      Back when the Xbox One was in development, I had hoped that Microsoft would release a small streaming-only media box (comparable to a Roku) alongside a gaming-focused console that would be more powerful than what they ended up releasing with the original One. Instead, they presented something of a combined proposition that never registered as a Roku competitor and still hit all the wrong notes with the gaming community. Perhaps even then they were hedging their bets on general consumer interest.

  14. PeteB

    Not seeing much justification for $500 for X, when Xbox One S costs $189 - plays UHD discs, supports 4K, HDR and Dolby Atmos and plays the same games as X. And let's face it the games are going to look mostly the same.

    Hell, if you have multiple TVs in the house you could buy an S for each of 3 rooms for close to the price of a single X.

    X really should've been priced $399. With the way original Xbox One flopped at $499 you'd think MS would've learned.

    • FreeJAC

      In reply to PeteB:

      The great thing is, nobody is forcing you to buy it. If you don't see the value for the X then the S has your name on it. For me and the X being the first console to share 4K game assets with the PC, it's a no brainer and the $500.00 price tag is more than fair IMHO.

    • hlbmab

      In reply to PeteB:

      Microsoft learn?

  15. dontbe evil

    "So if you’ve purchased content from there—shame on you—or want high-quality rentals, this is a great source."

    really professional, congrats

    • evox81

      In reply to dontbe_evil:

      Honesty is always the best policy.

      • FreeJAC

        In reply to evox81:

        I really don't get /agree with the sentiment that purchasing games on the Xbox platform is safe but movies are not. If anything with the shutdown of music and the way that was handled that should give you confidence that If MS decides to do away with movie and tv that they would transition you off onto something else and not leave you high and dry. I don't see that happening though since movies and tv are much more appropriate for a game consoles hooked up to a display than music ever could be.

        • evox81

          In reply to FreeJAC:

          I wholeheartedly disagree with that. The transition away from music was acceptable because everything I purchased could be downloaded and kept as a file on my PC. But nonetheless, even with them recommending users transition to Spotify, once they shut down the ability to download that purchased music, it is gone. If Microsoft decides to shut down their video service, there is no way the studios will give them permission to let you download those files. And in this hypothetical scenario we can assume they would shut the service down because it was losing money, so it's highly unlikely they'll pay someone else to give you licenses to that content on another service.

  16. Michael Uhlman

    Biggest disappointment is lack of HDMI 2.0 input. it's still only 1.4, so for boxes like a TiVo Bolt, you lose out on any of the 4k capabilities. Not the end of the world but seems shortsighted.

  17. xapache

    "’m not currently testing this, but Xbox One X—like all Xbox Ones—can also pass-through and control your old-school cable or satellite TV setup, your AV receiver, and more."

    I've been using my original Xbox One to control everything since it came out and it works wonderfully. The Kinect is an added bonus only for the voice control. Which brings me to a question I posted on the Forums but got no response.

    Can the Kinect USB adapter for Kinect, sold by MS, be used with the One X? Losing the voice control would be a bummer for my family. Maybe Paul can answer that question if he has the adapter. My One X arrives tomorrow.

    Paul, I've been using the Logitech Harmony for years now - glad you've finally found it.

  18. chaz_001

    Still bitterly disappointed with MS not finishing TV record feature which was one of the main reasons i got the xbox one.

    • FreeJAC

      In reply to chaz_001:

      Same here however, the HDHome Run solution that works on X1 looks good. That said probably still doesn't deal with protected content like Media Center used to.

      • Tallin

        In reply to FreeJAC:

        I believe protected content on the HDHomerun is in beta, and is definitely on the roadmap. That's the only one planned to have this capability at the moment. Personally, I went with OTA and Plex. It doesn't have DVR/LiveTV on Xbox One app yet, but you can playback DVR recordings scheduled elsewhere in the meantime (webapp, smartphone, etc.).

    • Uncommontater

      In reply to chaz_001: I agree. I am not a hard-core gamer. My kids and I play a lot of the LEGO games (Batman, Indiana Jones, Jurassic World, Star Wars), but that's about it. I initially bought an Xbox 360 because of its ability to serve as a Windows Media Center. I upgraded to the Xbox One because of the promise that it would indeed be the "one box to control them all"... no need for a Blu-ray player, no need for a DVR, and my TV and receiver are controlled through it (though how great would it have been if they integrated a 7.1 amp and an FM tuner into it so as to truly make it the only box you'd need). Unfortunately, the promise of DVR was abandoned and so the Xbox One is *not* the Ultimate Entertainment Console.

    • Lauren Glenn

      In reply to chaz_001:

      I stopped using the TV feature in XBOX One because it always audio lag on my setup (both TV set and via AV receiver). It's about 100ms off and you can get used to it but sometimes it's just too noticeable when the TV station is also off by about 100ms. When I hook the Tivo to the AV receiver directly, there's absolutely no lag. Add to that the fact that you can't snap TV to listen to shows while you play games anymore. They broke that with the Windows 10 update and I heard that option to snap has been deprecated anyway.

  19. D35011

    Seeing as how I haven't been able to get a single blu-ray disc to successfully play in my shiny new X1X, I'm currently assessing it as somewhat less than "ultimate."