After months of build-up, Microsoft's Kinect is finally available on store shelves. It's been promising a new way to play and experience games, but that's something we've heard from other game-makers in the past. Really the question you want to know is: Should you go out and buy Kinect? Hopefully by the end of this article, you'll have your answer.
What Is Kinect?
Many of you probably already know this, but for those just joining us, Kinect is basically a camera that sits on top or below your TV. Once plugged into your Xbox 360, the camera is able to track your movements in front of it, allowing you to control game characters and events by just moving your body. The Kinect camera also has microphones built into it, allowing you to speak basic commands to your 360 like "Play Disc" and "Fast-Forward." You can also use it to chat with friends.
How Much Does It Cost?
If you already have an Xbox 360, you can buy the stand-alone Kinect camera for $150. In addition to the camera, you'll also get a free game packed in: "Kinect Adventures." If you don't have an Xbox 360, you can buy a bundle for $300 which includes a 4GB console, Kinect and "Kinect Adventures." There's also a $400 bundle which includes a 250GB console instead of the 4GB one.
Short answer: Between $150 and $400.
The Pros And Cons: The Tech
At a basic level, the tech behind Kinect is very cool. The camera's sensors allow the system to track your body's movement in a 3D space (in this case, your living room) without you having to hold anything. It's unlike anything we've seen in video games before, and far more advanced than the technology we saw in the Wii.
Neediness. Because Kinect is tracking you with a camera, it needs good lighting and ideal surroundings. If you're lacking either, you're going to see the camera have serious problems keeping up, often glitching out, telling you that you're not standing in front of it when you most definitely are. Even in acceptable lighting, Kinect seems to only work flawlessly about 90% of the time and you're more than likely to run into body-tracking issues in even the best of circumstances.
The required space is probably the biggest problem facing Kinect. You need a lot of it. From the point where the camera is resting, you need, at the very least, 7 square feet of open space in front of your TV. No couches, no coffee tables, no nothing. Just open space. If you live in a metropolitan area, this is likely to be a problem. Personally, I was forced to build a make-shift shelf behind my TV in order to have enough space.
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