Microsoft Xbox on 20: Wanting again on the unique 2001 assessment


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

Sony, Nintendo and Sega have been the primary lounge 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 Sequence X each have one yr birthdays,

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

To place that unique Xbox console in context, I went again to the textual content of our unique CNET assessment printed in late 2001. This assessment was written by a former CNET editor. Darren Gladstone, which I’ve identified since not less than the early 2000s. Darren has since been concerned with the gaming business, working at firms together with 2K Video games and Telltale Video games. I requested him to revisit and clarify his unique assessment with a 20-year retrospective.

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


microsoft xbox assessment

Initially printed on November 14, 2001

to love

  • Finest Beneath-the-hood Specs
  • built-in broadband adapter
  • 8GB arduous drive for music and saved sport storage
  • Excessive-resolution show assist.

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 lounge. Yep, this black behemoth of the system appears to be like and acts like a online game machine—and a state-of-the-art one at that. However with built-in assist for high-speed networking, an 8GB arduous drive, DVD playback capabilities, and show assist for HDTVs, the Xbox does extra than simply play video games.

Darren Gladstone, 2021: It was identical to this massive horning system that sat there and dared you to not maintain it in your house leisure heart. It was a “fishtail on a automotive” sort 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 appears to be like good. But it surely’s like holding a horn in your steering wheel that does not actually work. I have a look at him with love and snicker greater than something as a result of it’s so humorous. It was a lot on high, it was the symbol 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 dwelling amongst your different home-theater elements. Inside this 8-pound field you may discover the guts of a PC (a 733MHz Intel processor; 64MB of RAM and a customized Nvidia graphics board, the Env2a) and a online game console. Nonetheless, nearly as good because the processing energy is, what issues is what’s on the display screen.

Video fanatics will recognize that the Xbox works not solely with customary 4:3 TVs however with HDTVs as nicely. When you’ve got an HD-ready arrange, you possibly can set the Xbox to output 480p, 720p, and 1,080i alerts in your video games in both regular or wide-screen (16:9) side ratios. The Xbox is able to producing 1,080i photos, however video games like Halo and Useless or Alive 3 have not been optimized for that prime degree but. Nonetheless, footage 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 unparalleled in a sport system. All of it provides as much as a number of the richest, most real looking experiences ever seen in video video games.

Microsoft did not have numerous 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 sport again within the day.

it was the rivalry that was established [between the Xbox and PlayStation 2], However I believe Microsoft shall be remembered for generations as a result of it was such a daring first step. Everybody was asking, what did this firm that advised PC software program and phrase processing software program in regards to the sport? And folks 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 may need to spend some additional money on non-obligatory equipment. The Xbox, like each different sport console, comes with a composite video cable and RCA audio output. However for higher audio and video efficiency, you may need to 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 element video connectors (Y, Pb, Pr), plus an optical digital audio jack. And what about DVD playback? Properly, not like the PS2, which performs DVDs proper out of the field, you may need to pay an additional $30 for a DVD film playback equipment. (Observe to videophiles: Even with the additional equipment, the Xbox will not output your films in 480p, so maintain on to that progressive-scan DVD participant.)

The truth that that they had multimedia kits, the place elements and composite cables have been in varied containers, makes realizing that you will most likely wish to improve over time while you lastly get a correct HDTV. These have been deliberate choices. One would possibly suppose they’re simply nickel-and-dimming you, however I assumed it was truly a very intelligent method of claiming on the time, if you happen to do not want this specific element in your system, So do not buy it. However while you’re prepared for it, you are able to do it.

Darren’s unique 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 an extra $50, you should buy Microsoft’s Xbox Reside Starter Equipment, which lets you play on-line video games (broadband connection required) for one yr without cost. 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 serious about the longer term. Sure, there have been on-line sport 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 strive it out and see what you suppose.” After which it began including options and at last 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 strong expertise. Realized that the longer term lies in proudly owning a community that helps all the things.

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

What it did in the intervening time was a lot of what we now name “in fact!” issues, like an inside arduous 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 arduous drive in order that it could load sooner? Looking back, it wasn’t flashy, however the inside arduous drive was so essential.

On the subject of Xbox, value is not a difficulty. 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 numerous energy underneath the hood and sports activities some distinctive options (a tough drive, an Ethernet adapter, 720p and 1080i assist for HDTVs) which can be lacking from competing techniques. Does this make it a greater possibility than the PS2? Whereas the PS2 at present has numerous nice video games, in addition to PS2-exclusive titles like Grand Theft Auto Vice Metropolis, a lot of the high video games are being launched concurrently on Xbox, and the console has its personal glorious Xbox-only titles like Mech assault. General, the Xbox affords superior graphics and is the best choice for individuals who demand the very best audio and video efficiency from the system and has audio-visual elements together with a surround-sound bundle to enrich it.

The unique Xbox actually pulled off that Babe Ruth – it pointed to the fence and took a swing. You need to respect that as a result of Microsoft has delivered on numerous 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 every other firm it needs to have in your lounge. It is fascinating to see that even on the time Microsoft was planting the seeds for it, with out truly calling it an “leisure system.”


Darren’s 2001 assessment accurately acknowledged the significance of mixing on-line gaming platforms and multimedia leisure and gaming into one system. in my Xbox Sequence X 2020 assessmentI adopted that very same thread: “If something, Microsoft’s Xbox Sequence X is a reductive evolution, the fine-tuning and perfection that labored so nicely 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 Sequence X is a extra well-rounded console-as-a-ecosystem that is devoted to multimedia, group, cloud gaming and cross-platform gaming. -The platform has inclination. Continuity.”

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