With 4K TVs becoming more affordable and commonplace, a lot of media lovers are looking forward to enjoying all of the impressive 4K content available. Whether you’re a streaming addict or a collector of physical media, you may be looking for various devices that can deliver the goods. The only downside is that 4K Blu-Ray players and streaming media boxes can cost a pretty penny. Brand name 4K Blu-Ray players can run you about $200, with more premium models north of that. Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TVs can cost $100 or more. If the cost doesn’t turn you off, the prospect of managing the mess of cables that comes along with all those gizmos surely will.
So what’s a high fidelity-loving media connoisseur going to do? The answer lies in an unlikely place, especially if you’re not a fan of video games. Microsoft’s Xbox One is the best bang for your buck media player available right now. Microsoft always intended for the Xbox One to be a gaming/multimedia center. Even though early adopters can still remember the sting of less than stellar performance at launch, Microsoft has since ironed out the kinks. The Xbox One has become an affordable, all-in-one media solution that will scratch nearly everyone’s entertainment itch. Don’t believe us? Take a look at some of the impressive features Microsoft’s console brings to the table.
The Xbox Plays 4K Blu-Rays
With the proliferation of streaming video, one would think that physical media is a dying format. Those who are interested in the best picture and sound quality would argue otherwise. 4K Ultra HD Blu-Rays support a 3840 × 2160 resolution up to 60 frames per second and high dynamic range (HDR) for a better color gamut.
4K Ultra HD Blu-Rays are not compatible with standard Blu-Ray players. This means that if you want the best and brightest, you’re going to have to shell out a lot for a 4K Ultra Blu-Ray player. As we mentioned above, a decent 4K Blu-Ray player will run about $200. Or you can snag an Xbox One, which can play 4K Ultra HD Blu-Rays in addition to a whole lot more.
Virtually Every Streaming Service Is Available
Streaming video is big business. Unfortunately, this means that various content providers will be duking it out at the expense of consumers. For example, take the squabble between Google and Amazon. This fight among industry titans has led to YouTube being pulled from Amazon Fire devices. With the Xbox One, you can forget the frustration of inter-company bickering affecting your streaming video habits. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube and more are all available.
Kodi Media Center Support
The super-popular media management program known as Kodi is available for the Xbox One. This makes the Kodi software come full circle, as it was originally known as XBMC or Xbox Media Center when it was developed for the original Xbox. While Kodi is an impressive piece of software that can transform the way you consume media, the build for the Xbox One is still in Alpha. Ultimately, this means there will be some hiccups and limitations, at least for now.
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
A November 2017 update brought Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support to the Xbox One, satiating the appetites of audiophiles everywhere. Since there are a large number of 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray titles (not to mention games) that support Dolby Atmos, you’ll be able to give your ears, as well as your eyes, the big screen treatment.
The Xbox One Is Constantly Updated
Remember when we mentioned how the Xbox One received Dolby support due to an update late last year? The Xbox One is part of the current generation of video game consoles. This means that it is under active development, ensuring that you get firmware updates in a timely manner. These updates do everything from fixing glitches to adding support for new features.
Finally, It Plays Games
The Xbox One is home to a ton of Triple A titles like Halo and Gears of War, not to mention a wide range of downloadable indies. In addition, the Xbox One supports backwards compatibility, meaning you can play select Xbox 360 and OG Xbox games! If you’re not much of a gamer, owning an Xbox means you always have the option to jump in.
While the Xbox One is a solid media player with tons of capabilities, there are some shortcomings.
- No analog connections – the Xbox One only comes equipped with HDMI and Optical output. Since you’ve probably got it hooked up to a fairly modern TV, this won’t be an issue for most. However, if you have an older sound system, you may not be able to use it without shelling out for a converter or a more modern sound system.
- The User Interface – the Xbox is a Microsoft product, so its UI is similar to that of the Windows operating system. Unfortunately, this means that it’s not the most intuitive, nor is it the best looking interface around.
Do you use your Xbox One as an all-in-one media center? If not, what is your preferred setup? Do you have any reservations about using your Xbox One as a media center? If so, let us know in the comments!
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