Microsoft Xbox on 20: Trying again on the unique 2001 evaluation


it was 20 years in the past, November 15, 2001, when the unique Xbox recreation console started promoting within the US. The launch was a chance for Microsoft, an organization (and arguably now) recognized extra for software program supremacy than groundbreaking {hardware}.

Sony, Nintendo and Sega have been the principle front room console gamers on the time, led by the PlayStation 2, which was launched a yr earlier in 2000. Since then, we have seen a number of generations of Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo consoles shift our consideration and leisure {dollars}. The Competitors Is On, And We Simply Handed PlayStation 5 and Xbox Collection X each have one yr birthdays,

Of these platforms, I see Microsoft’s Xbox as essentially the most blurring of the road between a recreation machine and an leisure machine. newest even after 20 years xbox collection x And Collection S Variations are nonetheless engaged on their key directive: they are a Computer virus that may cover the multimedia PC in your front room.

To place that authentic Xbox console in context, I went again to the textual content of our authentic CNET evaluation revealed in late 2001. This evaluation was written by a former CNET editor. Darren Gladstone, which I’ve recognized since no less than the early 2000s. Darren has since been concerned with the gaming trade, working at corporations together with 2K Video games and Telltale Video games. I requested him to revisit and clarify his authentic evaluation with a 20-year retrospective.

For ease of studying, I’ve copied and reformatted the unique evaluation under, with Darren’s new remark inserted in its entirety.


microsoft xbox evaluation

Initially revealed on November 14, 2001

to love

  • Greatest Underneath-the-hood Specs
  • built-in broadband adapter
  • 8GB exhausting drive for music and saved recreation storage
  • Excessive-resolution show help.

don’t prefer it

  • massive and heavy
  • Requires separate equipment to unlock DVD viewing functionality
  • No progressive-scan DVD playback.

Backside-line: Xbox is essentially the most versatile console and enhances the house theater system completely.

Microsoft’s Xbox One is a Computer virus. The corporate has conquered the desktop and now plainly a PC is meant to sneak into your front room. Yep, this black behemoth of the system seems to be and acts like a online game machine—and a state-of-the-art one at that. However with built-in help for high-speed networking, an 8GB exhausting drive, DVD playback capabilities, and show help for HDTVs, the Xbox does extra than simply play video games.

Darren Gladstone, 2021: It was similar to this massive horning machine that sat there and dared you to not hold it in your house leisure middle. It was a “fishtail on a automobile” type of design, simply massive, daring and brassy. It demanded consideration, and rightly so. That “Duke” Controller [the nickname for the oversized first-gen Xbox gamepad] It was love-it-or-hate-it. It was such an obnoxiously massive controller and there was this big X within the center that did completely nothing. OK, I get it, it seems to be good. However it’s like holding a horn in your steering wheel that does not actually work. I take a look at him with love and chuckle greater than something as a result of it’s so humorous. It was a lot on high, it was the logo of the entire Xbox.

no small feat

With a front-loading disc tray, two buttons, and 4 controller ports adorning the face, the monstrous case will really feel proper at residence amongst your different home-theater elements. Inside this 8-pound field you will discover the center of a PC (a 733MHz Intel processor; 64MB of RAM and a customized Nvidia graphics board, the Env2a) and a online game console. Nonetheless, pretty much as good because the processing energy is, what issues is what’s on the display screen.

Video lovers will recognize that the Xbox works not solely with customary 4:3 TVs however with HDTVs as effectively. When you have an HD-ready arrange, you possibly can set the Xbox to output 480p, 720p, and 1,080i indicators on your video games in both regular or wide-screen (16:9) side ratios. The Xbox is able to producing 1,080i photographs, however video games like Halo and Lifeless or Alive 3 have not been optimized for that prime stage but. Nonetheless, photos are crisp and sharp. A pleasant complement to this visible horsepower is the truth that the Xbox 5.1 helps Dolby Digital {surround} sound and delivers 256 simultaneous voice channels – beforehand exceptional in a recreation system. All of it provides as much as among the richest, most lifelike experiences ever seen in video video games.

Microsoft did not have a number of nice video games. There was Halo, which pulled it away from Bungie, the maker of it for PC, and ported it to Xbox. I keep in mind doing a canopy story on the unique Halo when it was going to be a PC recreation again within the day.

it was the rivalry that was established [between the Xbox and PlayStation 2], However I believe Microsoft might be remembered for generations as a result of it was such a daring first step. Everybody was asking, what did this firm that informed PC software program and phrase processing software program in regards to the recreation? And other people forgot about the truth that it had a whole video games division that had been making PC video games eternally.

Nonetheless, to get essentially the most out of the system, you will must spend some additional money on elective equipment. The Xbox, like each different recreation console, comes with a composite video cable and RCA audio output. However for higher audio and video efficiency, you will must spring for the $15 Superior AV Pack, which has an S-Video connector in addition to optical digital audio jacks. The $20 Excessive Definition AV Pack supplies part video connectors (Y, Pb, Pr), plus an optical digital audio jack. And what about DVD playback? Nicely, in contrast to the PS2, which performs DVDs proper out of the field, you will must pay an additional $30 for a DVD film playback equipment. (Be aware to videophiles: Even with the additional equipment, the Xbox will not output your motion pictures in 480p, so maintain on to that progressive-scan DVD participant.)

The truth that they’d multimedia kits, the place elements and composite cables have been in varied bins, makes realizing that you’re going to most likely wish to improve over time whenever you lastly get a correct HDTV. These have been deliberate selections. One would possibly suppose they’re simply nickel-and-dimming you, however I believed it was really a extremely intelligent approach of claiming on the time, for those who do not want this specific part on your system, So do not buy it. However whenever you’re prepared for it, you are able to do it.

Darren’s authentic 2001 Xbox console in 2021.

Darren Gladstone

PC facilities in the lounge

Whereas Microsoft pays you to unlock sure options, it consists of some PC-like options that may’t be present in competing techniques. First, there is a built-in Ethernet adapter for broadband multiplayer gaming, whether or not you are utilizing a cable modem, DSL, or workplace LAN. For a further $50, you should buy Microsoft’s Xbox Reside Starter Package, which lets you play on-line video games (broadband connection required) for one yr totally free. Many, however not all, titles are Xbox Reside-enabled.

At the moment, not everybody had broadband. You’ll have to go to your workplace to entry broadband. In order that was a kind of issues the place Microsoft was actually excited about the long run. Sure, there have been on-line recreation providers earlier than, CompuServe or such crap, and the Dreamcast had a 56k modem. Xbox Reside was free earlier than — it was like Microsoft was saying, “Your first style is free. Simply attempt it out and see what you suppose.” After which it began including options and eventually mentioned, if you wish to play multiplayer, that is what you want. And as much as that time, the corporate justified it by making it a extra sturdy expertise. Realized that the long run lies in proudly owning a community that helps all the things.

The console additionally comes with an 8GB exhausting drive, so that you need not purchase costly reminiscence playing cards to avoid wasting your recreation progress. (Proprietary reminiscence playing cards can be found for sharing information with pals.) That tough drive opens up a number of different prospects, too. For starters, video games load rapidly as a result of they’ll cache ranges on a sooner exhausting drive, somewhat than studying all the recreation’s info from disc. One other fringe profit is the flexibility to drop audio CDs into the unit and duplicate songs to the drive. You may then use the console to play your music as an alternative of fumbling on your CDs. Too dangerous you possibly can’t set up the whole recreation disc.

What it did in the intervening time was a lot of what we now name “in fact!” issues, like an inner exhausting drive. I keep in mind loading audio CDs on Xbox so I had my very own soundtrack. However I additionally keep in mind calling out Microsoft. Why could not I load the sport from the disc to the exhausting drive in order that it could load sooner? On reflection, it wasn’t flashy, however the inner exhausting drive was so necessary.

In terms of Xbox, value is not a problem. Now $199, the Xbox retails for a similar value because the PlayStation 2 and prices about $50 greater than the GameCube. Clearly, the Xbox has a number of energy below the hood and sports activities some distinctive options (a tough drive, an Ethernet adapter, 720p and 1080i help for HDTVs) which are lacking from competing techniques. Does this make it a greater choice than the PS2? Whereas the PS2 at present has a number of nice video games, in addition to PS2-exclusive titles like Grand Theft Auto Vice Metropolis, many of the high video games are being launched concurrently on Xbox, and the console has its personal glorious Xbox-only titles like Mech assault. Total, the Xbox gives superior graphics and is the most suitable choice for many who demand the most effective audio and video efficiency from the system and has audio-visual elements together with a surround-sound package deal to enhance it.

The unique Xbox actually pulled off that Babe Ruth – it pointed to the fence and took a swing. You must respect that as a result of Microsoft has delivered on a number of its guarantees. It is now to the purpose the place there is a set-top field for dominance in your house leisure system amongst Apple, Sony, Microsoft, and another firm it desires to have in your front room. It is attention-grabbing to see that even on the time Microsoft was planting the seeds for it, with out really calling it an “leisure system.”


Darren’s 2001 evaluation accurately acknowledged the significance of mixing on-line gaming platforms and multimedia leisure and gaming into one machine. in my Xbox Collection X 2020 evaluationI adopted that very same thread: “If something, Microsoft’s Xbox Collection X is a reductive evolution, the fine-tuning and perfection that labored so effectively within the Xbox One line. ps 5 A game-at-heart machine that is flexing its traditional gamepad prowess on the expense of all else, then the Xbox Collection X is a extra well-rounded console-as-a-ecosystem that is devoted to multimedia, neighborhood, cloud gaming and cross-platform gaming. -The platform has inclination. Continuity.”

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