Every spring Microsoft introduces a new line-up of bundles designed to get gamers in stores to purchase its Xbox One console. We expect that Microsoft will fine tune the Xbox One bundles it offers, trying to lure users into its ecosystem. What we haven’t seen in years past is the sheer number of refreshed accessories and extras available for the Xbox One.
Since the Xbox One launched, Microsoft’s accessories team has been busy building out a portfolio of complimentary accessories. In some cases, these extras come with the Xbox One console itself, making it very easy for users to pick them up. Buy a new bundle and the new Xbox One Wireless Controller is yours for example. Others don’t come with a system, but are a necessary investment.
If you’re purchasing an Xbox One this holiday season, you’re going to need at least one Xbox One accessory, I bet. Here are some essential Xbox One accessories for gamers and entertainment lovers. All of them enhance the Xbox One experience in some way, even if you own the console already.
Kinect for Xbox One
You can still purchase the Kinect sensor with an Xbox One, but Microsoft also sells the device separately. A Kinect allows you to play casual games without picking up your controller using hand gestures. Some games let you navigate their interface with voice commands using the sensor. It communicates with your audio and video equipment too, letting you turn on your television, speakers and console with just the command “Xbox One.”
I’d argue that no Xbox One experience is complete without a Kinect sensor for Xbox One. Microsoft recently announced promotional pricing for the Kinect at just $99. It also slashed the Xbox One + Kinect Bundle price at its Microsoft Stores to just $399. Both include a free copy of Dance Central Spotlight. The bundle also throws in a free copies of Zoon Tycoon and Kinect Sports Rivals.
Microsoft’s Xbox Live service isn’t required to use entertainment apps on the Xbox One anymore. Thankfully, Microsoft did away with that restriction last year. The service is still required to play online though, and Microsoft has started letting users download games to their console each month at no additional charge.
Like with Kinect, no Xbox One experience is complete without Xbox Live. You need the service for multiplayer game modes and co-op experiences. The company shares some exclusive discounts with users every so often too. Microsoft charges $60 a year for Xbox Live Gold. The service is also available for $9.99 a month.
Headphones are both functional accessory and a fashion statement. This doesn’t meant that you need to sacrifice form over function though. The Plantronics RIG 500 headphones can be used with an Xbox One or a smartphone. They’re customizable – users can add different headbands and ear cups if they’d like. Also, they’re ridiculously comfortable.
Microsoft is in the midst of making Xbox Live a cross-platform service. Sometime this year, gamers will be able to play both Gigantic and Fable Legends with Xbox One owners even when you’re on a Windows PC. To facilitate that, the company added support for Xbox One Wireless Controllers to Windows 10. Unfortunately, playing a PC game with that controller meant connecting it with a USB cable.
Soon it won’t though, Microsoft introduced a new Xbox Wireless Adapter last month that finally brings proper wireless controller support to Windows 10. Couple it with the Xbox app and you can record video from your favorite games and more. The Xbox Wireless Adapter costs $24.99 and supports up to 8 different controllers being connected at home. Microsoft says that the stereo headset jack will work on the controllers as well.
Speaking of Windows 10, the best Xbox accessories aren’t something that you necessarily have to pay for at all. They’re software that you can add to your smartphone or Windows device.
On notebooks, desktops and tablets look into Microsoft’s free Windows 10 update. The new operating system incorporates much of Xbox Live. A built-in app lets you create parties with other PC and Xbox One owners, send messages, download games with achievements and capture screenshots and video. It also lets you stream your games over your home network when even getting up to sit in front of the Xbox One is something you don’t want to do.
Xbox SmartGlass are companion apps for your iPhone and Android-powered smartphone. With these you can browse your profile, approve friend requests, stream broadcast television for your console and get a Guide with currently airing shows and movies on cable, satellite or broadcast networks. Xbox One SmartGlass apps are completely free.
Don’t want to purchase a Kinect? That reluctance is understandable. Purchase the Xbox One Media Remote instead. This remote will let you navigate the Xbox One’s different apps and interfaces without picking up a Wireless Controller. Unfortunately, if you don’t have the Kinect it won’t let you change channels.
International users can pick up Microsoft’s Xbox One TV Tuner and watch broadcast television. It’s a terrific way to get broadcast channels in high-definition, plus the Xbox One’s advanced TV features, without paying for cable or satellite. The USB TV Tuner connects to an antenna and a USB port on the back of your console, pulling down every digital channel that your antenna is strong enough to get clearly. Microsoft already lets users stream broadcast channels from their console to a device with SmartGlass. In 2016, users will be able to record that content and store it to watch later on their devices.
At first, Microsoft thought that gamers would want to type messages with their phones with Xbox SmartGlass. That assumption was wrong. Here to remedy that and save users from the on-screen keyboard is the Xbox One Chatpad.
The Xbox One Chatpad is a keyboard that connects to the controller. It draws power from the Xbox One Wireless Controller itself. Typing on it should feel more natural than with the on-screen options that Microsoft provides. Next year the company plans to make some buttons on the Xbox One Chatpad programmable for certain activities.
Microsoft quietly refreshed the Xbox One Wireless Controller this year. Besides changing some internal mechanisms, the company introduced a headset jack that lets gamers reuse their headphones and earbuds. This was possible previously, but required a separate stereo adapter. New Xbox One Bundles come with the updated controller, but users who want the new controller without a console purchase have to spend $59.99.
Featuring programmable buttons, rear-mounted paddles and a switch for changing profiles, the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller is the best accessory to have come from Xbox in recent years. Every controller surface has replacements that users can pop-off and replace for a better feel. It’s not cheap at $129, but definitely something hardcore gamers should take a look at.