Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $499 AT A GLANCE Plus Involving gameplay and graphics Powerful Smart TV features Wide range of remote control options Minus Features may be overkill for some No DVR control THE VERDICT Microsoft’s next-gen console is a home entertainment powerhouse. Games, movies, music—it’s got it all. Microsoft wants to take over the living room. OK, maybe that premise isn’t exactly new. About 10 years ago, tech pundits used the same words when discussing the Windows Media Center PC, an all-in-one solution that combined computing and home entertainment in a big, ungainly box. You don’t hear much about Microsoft’s Media Center PC ambitions anymore. What you do hear about is the Xbox One, the latest version of the company’s successful game console. And yes, Microsoft still wants to take over the living room, except now they plan to do so through the Xbox One.
Price: $250 At A Glance: Exceptionally intuitive &bull; Web-based setup procedure &bull; Help function uses questions and answers to fix system problems &bull; Programmable power-on, inter-key, inter-device delays Pretty and Pretty Smart I don&rsquo;t know what they put in the water cooler at Logitech, but I want to start drinking it. The Harmony One is another in its long list of affordable universal remote controls. It looks great, is easy to program, and is sweetly simple to use. The Harmony One is as narrow as most single-device remotes, but it&rsquo;s thinner and surprisingly light. It&rsquo;s even easier to hold and use. At the business end is a bright 1.25-by-1.5-inch color touchscreen with enough resolution that you can easily recognize the tiny DVD logo on the DVD player icon. The backlit hard keys are distinctly grouped together by function (transport, numeric keypad, etc.). Although the individual keys are only slightly larger than those on an average remote, each has its own unique shape and is spaced far enough apart so that you can easily use the remote for basic operations without looking at it. The Harmony One includes a built-in motion sensor that&rsquo;s supposed to wake the remote when you pick it up. It&rsquo;s not super sensitive, though, so sometimes you&rsquo;ll need to give the remote a quick shake to bring it to life. To recharge the battery, just place the remote in its horizontal charging cradle. My older Harmony 890 is sometimes finicky and refuses to make contact&mdash;and therefore doesn&rsquo;t charge&mdash;when resting in its cradle. This one has a deeper well that ensures a solid connection between the contact points on the remote and the charging cradle. By the way, the rechargeable battery is removable and replaceable, much like a cordless phone&rsquo;s battery. This makes it environmentally friendly, and it won&rsquo;t force you to buy a new remote when the battery finally expires.
Sure, you know that Elliot Scheiner, Frank Filipetti, and other producer/engineers are fans of surround sound. But among artists, you&#39;ll find no bigger champion of multichannel music than Porcupine Tree&#39;s Steven Wilson.
Perhaps the most important aspect of any home-entertainment system is how you control it. What good is a pristine picture and sublime sound if members of your family&mdash;or even you&mdash;can't easily enjoy it? Each device has its own remote control with a different layout, making it nearly impossible for anyone to operate the system effectively.