Kinect Hardware Review + Setup Time

It has finally arrived, Microsoft’s Kinect.  It seems this day would never come.  It’s funny how the media has been so excited about the device, and by comparison, the Move, has launched to much less fanfare.  I suppose the reason is one closely matches that of the Wii and therefore renders a similar experience, while the other removes any need for a controller.  I was very positive about the Move within my Sports Champions review.  That was then, this is now.  Today we’re talking about Microsoft’s Kinect.

Many have emailed us asking how long it takes to set up the camera.  Well, it’s a matter of seconds.  You place the Kinect either below or above your TV; connect the USB cord into your slim 360 and away you go.  If you own an older model, plug in the power adapter as well.  Then there’s nothing else to do except synchronize the camera.  But that’s where things become interesting.

Before you move furniture around or knock down walls, note that Microsoft recommends six feet to be between the camera and your playing area.  I don’t really have that in my living room.  I reside in a small apartment right now, so you can imagine.  Before I forget, make sure there’s adequate lighting; otherwise the camera won’t follow you easily.  Now you can move your coffee table out of the way.

I experienced no problem playing most of my games with my ottoman in place, but I had to remove it for Kinect Sports.  That game requires around seven feet between the player and camera.  It was the only one where I physically had trouble blocking Steven from scoring on me in soccer.  Everything else worked perfectly.

Playing Kinect boils down to needing space.  I won’t be able to play multiplayer Kinect games in my current living room.  It’s not in the cards.  You require at least eight feet to play multiplayer games, so there’s no hope for me given I barely have enough for solo gaming.  Before you go crazy, synchronize the camera.  It says if you’re blocking the view or not.  I don’t think it’s necessary to remove all your furniture, as some pundits would want you to believe.

It's pretty amazing what this little camera can do. It even moves up and down. Sick!

With the Kinect set up and synced, I tried the voice recognition software, and I think there’s real potential there.  I easily started a game, loaded Zune, and signed in to my profile.  I even added facial recognition so the camera knows Jarrod is Rockman1974.  That’s pretty cool, and works extremely well…so long as you’re in a well-lit room.  Steven and I tried video chatting, and while it’s pretty smooth, there’s noticeable echoing with speech.  It wasn’t always present, so perhaps our connection was responsible.  Our multiplayer games were completely lag-free.  One neat feature with the video chat is the auto zoom option.  It forces the camera to follow you within its proximity view.  Obviously there are limits, but it followed me as I moved here and there, and sat on my couch.  Again, it’s clear I don’t have the optimal space because when I sat down all Steven could see was my lovely head.

Now just imagine Steven and I in these pictures. I assure you, we're even more jolly than these people.

That’s all she wrote for the hardware.  I’m pleasantly surprised by how easy the system is to set up, and how well everything has worked thus far.  It takes practice to learn the hand activation controls, but that will become second nature in time.  Even if you live in a tight apartment, you can play and enjoy Kinect.  Having a friend over for bowling might not be too bright though.  I also admit to not being very excited about motion control, but from the little I’ve played, I acknowledge that it’s growing on me.  It’s just so different than Move and Wii.  Some of the games simply couldn’t be done on those platforms, while others would be ten times better.  I’ll offer more detail in the coming days, but for now I strongly recommend everyone who owns a 360 to try this.  I think many would be surprised by how much fun some of these games are, and how impressive this technology can be.   I believe Microsoft may have a winner on their hands.  Now give us the games, and don’t stop giving them to us, or else…

15 thoughts on “Kinect Hardware Review + Setup Time”

  1. I’ve been hearing that the experience varies from person to person. Yeah, I know that space is the most important aspect here….but even with that, there are polarizing complaints of people having trouble with recognition. Sonic Free Riders is the big culprit here, with gamers saying that it works well and others saying that it doesn’t recognize crap despite the space. Things like actual lighting, how tall are you, how dark of a T-shirt are you wearing, etc. A lot of people say that the Kinect gets affected by all those, which makes me kind of skeptical to be honest.

  2. I haven’t noticed anything that dramatic yet. I did have a few instances where Kinect couldn’t see my face, but that was because I didn’t have the lights on. I only realized after that you must be in a bright room.

    Thus far I haven’t had any problems, but I’m aware of the complaints so I’m keeping my eyes open. I’m also having various people try it out, wearing different clothes and being different body types.

  3. I even heard that Kinect is racist lol. By that I mean skin color also affects the performance.

    On the other hand, I’ve played a lot of Sports Champions with the move, switch from tall to short people, played in the dark and bright daylight with different colored clothes and never had 1 problem.

    Unless Kinect comes with a hardcore game with impressive controls, Move is definetly the best motion control out there IMO.

  4. Move doesn’t really offer anything new. It’s just like the Wii with HD visuals. That’s great if you like these type of games I guess.

    The thing is I don’t particuly like motion games, yet I play with Kinect everyday. It might just be the newest factor, but the thing is incredibly innovative. You can use your head, your feet, your hands, your knees, every part of your body with this technology.

    Those that want to find faults with Kinect will find some. I’m been hearing all kind of stuff online about Kinect and most of it comes from people who haven’t or have barely tried it. It isn’t perfect, heck far from it. It has been barely out for a week yet and look at what games it already has. 3 solid games. Again, none of these games will win any goty awards. But how many move games are there out there that are awesome? Kinect has been out for a week and it already has better titles. We will see down the line though, but the technology found in Kinect has more potentiel. Down the line, I’m convinced there’s nothing it can’t do compared to its competitors. You can play with a controller in your hands and chat while on it, even though you don’t need the headset anymore to chat. What prevents companies from making hybrid games using both the kinect and a regular controller?

    The only disadvantage it has is space. You need space and lots of space for multiplayer games. Then again, besides Ahmed, most gamers play online nowadays. Still, since this is a family product, it could be its downfall eventually.

  5. @Steven

    The only thing that I don’t agree on with what you just said is: “That’s great if you like these type of games I guess.”

    Sure move is an upgraded wii controller. But at least the games are HD and hardcore! You can play MAG and Heavy Rain with the Move. And even the sports game has some very sexy models in there.

    If you look at Kinect, the tech might be more innovative but the games are exactly what the wii has to offer. There’re exactly the same. (Well at least they have arms and legs)

  6. I can agree with you on that. Right now, Kinect’s lineup ressembles what you will find on the Wii. The games have more depth though then what I found with the Wii when I was still playing it. Take a game like Joy Ride, although it might not be the best game out there, it does offer the same kind of depth and unlockables that you would find in a normal racing game like Burnout. But yeah, right now, no hardcore games. Like I said though, its been out for a week! If in 2 years, the Kinect still has no hardcore games, then I will side with you. For now, I think everyone needs to give it a chance.

    As for the hardcore games you mentioned, they are indeed hardcore. However, do they really control better with the move then a regular controller? I played Socom at E3 with the Move. It was definitly playable and fun but I would have been 100 times better with a normal controller. I never was able to play FPS with the Wii/Move setup (nor will I be able too on the Kinect if they ever release some) but there apparently people out there that can play like that. I still think they would get there ass kicked if they would play against someone with a controller in there hands.

    As for Heavy Rain, I’m curious to know if it handles better with a pointer. It might, and it should. But everyone thought the same thing about strategy rpgs back with the ds, or even with the wii but it they didn’t control better. I assume you have the game so you probably are able to tell me how it does with a pointer.

  7. You guys will have to continue this conversation in about six months’ time. That way we’ll have a better idea of the software Kinect will receive. Right now the device is being targeted towards a very specific casual crowd, but I’m hoping that changes as we move forward. I don’t think anyone can argue that the system surely had potential, it’s just a question of whether or not developers will tap into that.

  8. I’m waiting to see what will come out for Kinnect down the road. As of now, there is no piece of software to convince me to plunk down the money. Dance Central looks pretty neat, but not $150+ neat. I think that there is potential to move forward there, but I have to wait and see how developers implement the technology. I’m certain in some cases, Move/Wii will be superior and others, Kinnect. In one scenario, Child of Eden, I think will be much better on the Move. I just don’t see playing that game well on Kinnect. I’m still a little unsure about playing Steel Battalion 2 on Kinnect, but I’m curious.

    With the Wii, I loved the motion control implementation of Red Steel 2 and the amazing (nearly OCD) level of customization for the Conduit. I really love using the pointer controls for shooters on those systems and find it fun and intuitive. I can still use a regular controller–I bought and played the hell out of Halo Reach and had a blast. I don’t even find the two that comparable actually. The control method changes the way you play a lot. Red Steel 2 simply would be…really weird with a standard controller.

    Anyhow, am I impressed with Kinnect? Yeah, actually. I’m tempted to get it just for the dashboard navigation and voice command. It looks boss. But the games? No, not really. I don’t particularly care for any of them yet. I certainly wouldn’t spend money on them. Do I think Move is “better?” Yes and no, it’s contextual. I don’t think even saying “those types of games” really covers it. There are so many possibilities on every console and there are so many awesome games on each platform that I am happy with all three.

    …but in all seriousness, I’m super pumped for the 3DS XD

  9. See having to pay for all of this changes one’s perspective for sure. I didn’t buy Joy Ride for example, but am really enjoying it. At $50 it’s just way too expensive. That said there’s no way it could be released as an Xbox Live Arcade game because of all the content featured. Now when you look at the sensor as a whole, the closest killer app would likely be Dance Central or Kinect Sports, but you have to ask yourself if these games are worth the $150 entry price. Once we’re done with our reviews, I plan to write up an article asking that very question, and deal with future prospects that we know of right now.

  10. I will wait and see how the addon is supported. The console systems of the past have a VERY bad track record, and I’m thinking it will be the same with Sony and MS too. We will see in the next year or so

    1. Well thus far they’re off to be a pretty good start. They sold over a million units within the first 10 days. I think we’ll have a much better idea where Kinect and Move stand after the holidays.

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