Review: Kinect for Xbox 360

Kinect with Kinect Adventures!

Remember when the PlayStation EyeToy came out? How about the Wii with its ground-breaking motion sensing controls? You can throw those gimmicks out the window, Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360 is the new way to play!

The Kinect gained huge popularity over the holiday season. Microsoft has finally done motion controls right and has done it simply enough that everyone can join in. The Kinect uses three different sensors in order to see a person’s entire body in 3D: a RGB camera, a microphone running proprietary software and an infrared laser projector. This technology, combined with Microsoft’s advanced gesture, facial and voice recognition, gives the Kinect the upper hand in motion controlled gaming.

I was in Minneapolis last week and had time to head over to the Mall of America. Being a geek, the only stores I cared about visiting were Lego Land (of course), Best Buy Mobile, the Apple store and the Microsoft store (the latter two coincidentally were directly across the hall from each other).

As I walked into the Microsoft store, a crowd of  over 10 people watched as two little boys battled in Kinect Sports Boxing. Everyone was amazed at the ability of the Kinect to track the punches so accurately and without delay! The store was so busy that I wasn’t even able to try the Kinect – every TV was full of people watching or playing.

This is the magical beast.

The Kinect is very simple to set up. Plug the USB cord into any of the USB ports on your Xbox 360. After placing the sensor in a location near your TV (I recommend above the TV), turn on your Xbox 360. You will immediately need to update your console over Xbox Live to enable the Kinect; this only takes a couple of minutes on decent internet speeds. After updating, you will be presented with a long but worthwhile tutorial showing you where to stand, how to use your hands to navigate and how to use the menus.

Now comes the best part: You can stand in front of your TV and control your entire Xbox 360 experience with your body! I swear this was straight out of Star Wars, utilizing what seemed like The Force to throw the navigation panels back and forth across the screen. The accuracy of the sensors is incredible. It is so simple, smooth and fun to wave your hands around and see instant feedback on the screen in front of you.

The Kinect comes bundled with Kinect Adventures, a not-so-great representation of what the Kinect can do. I recommend buying Kinect Sports, otherwise you will be left frustrated and bored with the poor quality of Kinect Adventures. For the sake of learning how the Kinect works, I played Kinect Adventures first and a few of the game types were pretty entertaining. Once I got the hang of using my body to do EVERYTHING, I was eager to try Kinect Sports.

Kinect Adventures and Kinect Sports

Kinect Sports is where the Kinect technology really shines. Not only did I sweat up a storm, even after placing a fan in the room, I felt like I was actually playing a real sport! There was no weird controller hindering me and Kinect was able track my movements back and forth, left and right, along with my legs and feet, all accurately.

Currently, the stand-alone Kinect is priced at $149.99 with Kinect Adventures included. You can spend a little over $300 to get a new 4 GB Xbox 360 bundled with Kinect and Kinect Adventures, which is the best deal if you don’t mind the small hard drive.

If you are looking for a way to entertain the whole family this year or just have a great time with a few friends, the Xbox 360 Kinect is the best choice you can make, assuming you know the ways of The Force!

Image courtesy: closari on Flickr