This post is part of the 10, 's gift guide of the 10 hottest gadgets that our editors think should be on everyone's wish lists this holiday season. If you were lucky enough to receive one of those gifts, our handy quick start guides should get you up and running. To view the entire gift guide, click here.
Congrats! That present you just unwrapped contained an Xbox 360 with Kinect! Or maybe you just bit the bullet and purchased one for yourself. Either way, you're now the proud owner of some advanced motion sensing technology.
So what should you do first with your Kinect, one of the hottest items of the season? After many extensive hours of research (the vast majority of it jumping around in front of the TV), we have some suggestions for how you can get the most of your new motion control machine.
If you have tips for the new Xbox 360 owners among us (and we're sure you do), please leave them in the comments so the newbies can get the best experience out of their devices.
Without further ado, here's our breakdown:
Random Tips to Get You Started
I'm not going to go into detail about getting started with your Xbox 360 with Kinect; I assume the majority of you already have an Xbox 360 or have played with one prior to this purchase. If you haven't played with one before, bring someone who owns one to help you set it up and explain the cool things it can do.
Instead, I'd like to leave you with a few random tips and pieces of advice when you're setting up a Kinect-enabled Xbox:
Xbox Live is well worth a subscription price. It's how you get the downloadable content and, more importantly, it's necessary for multi-player. The nice thing about the new Xbox 360 is that it is Wi-Fi enabled; I have to stick an Ethernet cable into my older model to get an Internet connection.
Netflix streaming is a must. It changes the entire Xbox 360 experience for the better.
The Xbox 360 is an entertainment station just as much as it is a gaming console. Link it up with your computers to play the music and movies you have stored. I personally have a 1TB wireless external hard drive where I store most of my movies, TV shows and music. Since both the Xbox 360 and the drive are linked to the same router, I'm able to play that multimedia on my television without any hassle. Definitely set up something similar if you have a digital collection.
The Xbox 360 comes with iPod support via an optional support update. Download it from the marketplace if you'd like to enhance your TV's entertainment potential.
It's really, really important to have the right space for the Kinect. You need the space not just for the sensors to pick you up, but for your friends to sit on the sidelines to cheer you on. Having couches to the side or well behind the range of the Kinect is ideal. Microsoft recommends having eight feet of space from the sensor to the player for any two-player game, but you can get away with an extra foot if it's necessary. The key is not to let the space feel cramped.
New Software Update: ESPN, Last.fm and More
To coincide with the launch of Kinect, the Xbox OS and dashboard have been redesigned. It's cleaner, it's faster, it has more features, and oh, it's the update that adds Kinect support.
It's not just the fact that you can now use voice commands to navigate some of the menus; it's also the addition of services like ESPN and Last.fm. ESPN is great for highlights, and the videos are high quality. I'll admit that I log into my Xbox just to watch some ESPN ever since I cut the cable cord.
One more thing: do try out the Video Kinect app if you have friends who are big Xbox players. Being able to chat with your friends in the living room is a fun experience, though you won't be using it anywhere near as often as Skype.
The Games You Want to Buy
For all of its features, the Xbox 360 is still a gaming device, and it needs a fresh supply of games to be fun or useful.
Let's start with the Kinect games. There are about a dozen out on the market, but only a few high-quality ones that really utilize the motion sensing technology in a way that doesn't feel like pulling teeth out of your own mouth.
These are the Kinect games that will keep a party buzzing:
Kinect Sports: This is the best activity game of the bunch. Jumping hurdles and having your friends cheer you on is a blast, and games like boxing and volleyball are both stimulating and intensive. It's a great party game.
Dance Central: We firmly believe that Dance Central is the best Kinect game out there today. Its visuals are electric, its gameplay is challenging and its entertainment factor is off-the-scale. Just watching your friends try to mimic Lady Gaga's"Just Dance"is enough to justify getting this game, but it gives you some basic rhythm and move sets that can get you started on the path of dancing. It has a good selection of music as well, though we hope it'll come with more in future updates. This is the game to buy.
Kinectimals: While your average gamer will not find Kinectimals of interest, your young daughter will. This is a game to get for the kids.
Beyond the Kinect games, we also recommend several traditional controller-based Xbox 360 games to get this holiday season, based on what genre interest you. For RPG players, Final Fantasy XIII is a must-have, as is Fable III. BioShock 2, Mass Effect 2 and Gears of War are all great options for those of us who like to shoot things up.
If you want the true Xbox 360 experience though, you must get Halo: Reach. Halo is the franchise that defines the Xbox, and for good reason. Reach may very well be the best of the franchise.
Kinect in 2011
Developers are still trying to get a feel for the Kinect, so don't expect anything too groundbreaking in 2011 for the device. With that said, we are definitely looking forward to trying Kinect Star Wars, Forza and Michael Jackson: The Experience. The Star Wars game especially interests us (if only to relive our lightsaber fantasies), but we have a sinking feeling that this game will get delayed until early 2012.
Spring 2011 is also the target date for another update to the Xbox 360 dashboard. Beyond adding more Kinect improvements (e.g. multi-language voice commands), it is also the target date for the launch of Hulu Plus on Xbox 360.
Finally, watch out for the release of Gears of War 3, Crysis 2, Dead Space 2 and Portal 2. Yes, all of these games are sequels, but they are all on track to be as good as their predecessors. We're especially excited for Crysis 2, the long-awaited follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2007 hit of the same name.
More Gaming Resources from :
- 5 Predictions for Game Mechanics in 2011 - 5 Fantastic Web Games We Can't Stop Playing - Why You Need an Xbox 360 With Kinect This Holiday Season - Cracking the Mainstream: Why Social Gaming Is More Than Just a Fad - 4 Frighteningly Fun Zombie iPhone Games