We pre-ordered ourselves a
Kinect and it
arrived yesterday. After spending a single evening with it, here’s what
I’ve arrived at.
Setup is reasonably easy. I have an original Xbox 360 and not one of the
snazzy new Xbox 360 S models, so I have it connected with a USB cable
and a separate power adapter. The Kinect proper is sitting just below
the TV on the TV stand. Power on, magic happens, run through a couple of
calibration screens, and you’re done.
To get the Kinect’s attention, you wave to it. This doesn’t sound hard,
but you can’t wave too fast or too slow, and the movement can’t be too
small or too grand. If it is, Kinect ignores it. Probably good so you
don’t accidentally activate things, but you do need to sort of “learn to
wave” to it.
The voice commands are interesting but somewhat limited at this point. I
recall seeing, somewhere, a demo where they started and stopped video
playback using voice commands but I can’t figure out how to get that to
work. The commands are also not entirely discoverable. For example, you
say “Xbox” (to get Kinect’s attention) and then a list of commands pop
up that are available - “Dashboard,” “Next,” “Previous,” “Cancel.”
Sounds straightforward - go to the Xbox dashboard, next menu, previous
menu, cancel the voice command. I don’t know what I said, but at one
point it popped up some settings menu, which means to me that there are
commands you can say that aren’t listed. Unfortunately, there’s no
manual explaining it, so… hmmm.
We played Kinect Adventures! last night - the game that comes with the
Kinect - and it was very fun, though it takes some getting used to. It’s
similar to Wii Fit where you sort of jog in place or dodge obstacles,
but rather than standing still on a pad the way Wii Fit works, you
actually run around the room. The bit that takes getting used to is the
whole “physical calibration” of it - figuring out where your body should
be in relation to the TV in order to get things to happen. There’s also
a tiny delay between you doing something and the character on the screen
doing it, so you have to figure that out and account for it. Once you’ve
got that down, it’s pretty fun.
There’s a feature on it that I think is cool where it knows just about
the time you’re going to do something embarrassing and it snaps a photo
of you. Sort of like the cameras they have on roller coasters that snap
you just as you go down a scary bit. Once these pictures are snapped,
they’re saved to your Xbox and you can upload them from there to
KinectShare, a web site that holds the photos
online for you (in private) for 14 days. From that web site, you can
share the photo to Facebook or download it to your computer.
This is actually a decent workflow if you have an Android phone (and
possibly iPhone, but I’ve not tried it):
- Upload from Xbox to KinectShare.
- Visit KinectShare on the phone browser and post the photo to
- Open the Facebook app and share the photo from there - email,
Twitter, or whatever.
Another cool feature is the facial recognition. You can sign into Xbox
Live just by waving at the Kinect and it recognizes your face. If you’re
in a game, it automatically switches profiles for the active player
based on who’s standing in front of the camera. That’s pretty slick and
works reasonably well.
Here’s the big downside, though, and I can’t stress this enough:
YOU NEED A CRAPTON OF SPACE FOR KINECT.
The packaging and all the documentation says you need six feet between
the back of your space and the Kinect. What it should say is “If you
don’t have at least eight feet between you and Kinect, you won’t get the
most out of this.”
My living room looks something like this:
It’s a reasonably skinny rectangle where I have an opening on on wall,
windows on another, and a fireplace on yet another. That leaves one
place, basically, for the TV. The couch is directly across from that,
and both the TV and couch are pushed as far back as they go. That gives
me six feet of space, which is great for movie and TV watching but is on
the absolute minimum end for Kinect. I don’t have the option of moving
furniture or adjusting anything. Rotating the TV won’t help and isn’t
really feasible anyway.
What that means is that when you play, Kinect Adventures! tells you to
stand in the play area and if you don’t stand with your heels right on
the back of the couch, you’re too close. When you calibrate the facial
recognition thing that lets you auto sign-in, Kinect tells you to step
back. That had my wife and I standing on the couch, bracing against the
back wall/windows. That really sucks.
As such, I’m looking at possibly moving the Kinect upstairs where there
is the potential for more room in our “game room.” We’d have to move
some recliners out of the way every single time we play, but it would
give us about eight feet of usable space and I think Kinect would be
happier. Maybe if I just leave some of those furniture slider
things under the
recliners so you can more easily push them…
Anyway, Kinect is fun, but we don’t have enough room. I haven’t even
Central out of the
plastic yet and I know I’m not going to have enough space.