Thoughts and musings on Microsoft Kinnect – Kinect Review

Kinnect (pronounced connect) landed at my pad late last week – a gift. Here are my thoughts.

  • I like Kinnect a lot. However, it is definitely not for me. I definitely would not purchase it if I had a choice. I know it seems contradictory but allow me to explain. I’m the type of person who finds a comfortable spot in the couch and plops in. I literally don’t move for hours until I absolutely have to. When I do move, I consolidate everything; that is, a toilet break, grab a drink, some food, check on the kids, glance outside, head back to the couch. If you suffer the same symptoms like me, Kinnect is not for you. I hate the thought of moving once I am situated. In fact the thought is painful and causes some injury to my brain. I’m able to move my hands to surf the Web, use the remote, stretch for a drink, reposition myself on the couch. Anything else is a hassle. Kinnect flies in the face of this. It requires you to get up and move, do something. wave around, behave like a clown. Oh, it’s healthy alright, it’s just not my idea of fun.
  • It doesn’t really work for projector home theaters. I finally put mine on the floor. Works well there but doesn’t flow with the aesthetics of the room. Now, if I had a tv, I can easily see it being placed at the base of the tv, even mounted to the top. Projector, different story.
  • It doesn’t quite work with a home theatre system. These systems function in poor light at best. This isn’t your living room. While the kinnect complained miserably about the poor light, I chose to ignore it and proceed, and it worked pretty well.
  • At most two people can play. When two people are in the play zone, it can be a challenge for kinnect to not mix the two together (like connect my hand to her foot!). From time to time, it will indicate that you are out of the play zone and it will flash your avatar or fail to pick up movements as a consequence. But all in all, it works ok.
  • Your play area needs to be wide and deep enough. In some apartments, space might be a challenge. Consider the space needs to be about the size of a couch. But, the couch is already there so you’ll need to move it out of the way. If you can’t, then you can’t play two people at a time.
  • Games will determine if this thing succeeds or flops. Right now, the games are not the best at all. There are several reasons why and I will list a few. Humans are hard-wired for tactile sensation. We push on a wall, there’s resistance; that is, the wall ‘pushes back’. We feed off that response. Kinnect does away with this. So when you attempt to steer a car, there’s no tactile response. It translates into an uneasy feeling of ‘did I just oversteer? Better look at the car on screen to see if I did!’ That’s not a normal feedback loop for us humans. While you can get accustom to it, you’ll evidently undo this learning when you go out into the real world.
  • Calling the menu is troublesome. When you are bored and want to turn off the game console, it isn’t easy to do as compared to a controller. Selecting items on the menu are equally cumbersome requiring you to wave your hand and hold it in place for a few seconds to select an option on screen. At best, it is touch and go.
  • Only certain types of games will succeed in this niche space. Here’s why. First person shooter games are expected to fail at least until someone solves the ‘trigger problem’. How does kinnect know you squeezed the trigger on the AK-47? It isn’t sensitive enough to consistently recognize the trigger squeeze. That problem needs to be solved in a way that matches reality. Excercise games, dance games etc will definitely succeed because all you really need is your body. Add a personal instructor with some A.I. to chime in and say ‘pick up the pace!’ etc will make those games widely successfull. Racing games or any sort of game that requires tactile response isn’t going to succeed. I can play forza 3 for 12 hours straight! Seriously. Kinnect racing got my arms dead tired in 30 seconds. How long can you hold your arms outstretched? Exactly.
  • Video conference capabilities are awesome. The microphone is extremely powerful. You seem to be able to talk above a whisper and it picks up.
  • You have to face the Kinnect dead on. Seems odd but if you have a projector and the Kinnect is not on the floor, you may think it wise to put it slightly to the side so you can see the screen unencumbered (sp???). It won’t consistently pick up motion in that spot.
  • Did I mention the games suck? I intend to buy an aerobics fitness game though. I think that will be great for me to get in shape (got to lose those last 10 pounds!).
  • It’s very sleak and light and fits will with modern decor.
  • It does take a fraction to translate your movements but it isn’t noticeable in a game. it is noticeable when interacting with the menu. In fact, some menu routines are downright painful.
  • Family members and cousins quite literally could not get enough of it and talked non-stop about purchasing one.
  • Here’s the final, most important feedback. I put mine away to collect dust after playing with it for 10 minutes! I’ll dust it off when my exercise game comes in. Hopefully. Seriously. SERIOUSLY!!!

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