What Is Kinect?
Kinect is a motion detecting camera that you can use with the Xbox 360. It uses special technology to track your body movements and translate those movements into games. Now you can play games without even holding a controller in your hand. Kinect also has voice recognition as well, so you can use voice commands on the Xbox 360 dashboard as well as in games.
Kinect debuted at the E3 2009 show and was code named Project Natal at the time. A year later, at E3 2010, it was officially named "Kinect". It was released in North America on November 4, 2010, and around the rest of the world in the weeks and months after.
How Much Does Kinect Cost?
Kinect launched with an MSRP of $149.99 in the U.S., but as of August 22, 2012 the price has been dropped to $109.99. All Kinect sensors include a copy of Kinect Adventures. Kinect Adventures also has additional demos on-disc for Kinect Joyride, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, and Dance Central.
What About Kinect Xbox 360 System Bundles?
If you don't already have an Xbox 360 system, or simply want a new model, there are two Kinect Xbox 360 system bundles available. For $300 you can get a 4GB Xbox 360 S bundled with Kinect (honestly, not recommended as 4GB isn't really enough memory and buying bigger hard drives will cost a lot more than the other option), or for $400 you can get a 250GB Xbox 360 S bundled with Kinect. There is also a special hardware bundle for Kinect Star Wars that includes a specially painted console and controller, 320GB hard drive, Kinect Star Wars game, and white Kinect hardware for $450.
What Hardware Do I Need To Use Kinect?
Kinect is an add-on to the Xbox 360 system currently on the market. The Xbox 360 S system, released in Summer of 2010, has a built in port to supply power to Kinect without any additional cords or connections. Older Xbox 360 models (the ones with detachable hard drives on top), require Kinect to be plugged into A/C power and will connect to the Xbox 360 through a USB port. All of the necessary cables to connect to an older Xbox 360 system are included with Kinect, so no additional hardware will be required.
How Much Space Does Kinect Require?
Kinect works best when you stand at a range of 6-8 feet away from the sensor. If you are closer than that, the games do not function nearly as well. This presents a bit of a problem in that not everyone has that space available, and it isn't really possible to play in a smaller space. If you don't have enough space, we have to recommend not getting Kinect. It just won't work right.
Do I Need Anything Else?
Not really. Third-party companies will likely try to make Kinect accessories like tennis rackets or bowling balls or other stuff (kind of like the junk they sell for the Nintendo Wii), but you really don't need any of it. The only Kinect accessories we recommend are the mounting options such as wall mounts, floor stands, or TV mounts. These let you securely set up your Kinect sensor in an optimal position, and will potentially help you maximize space so Kinect will actually work correctly.
What Games Can I Play With Kinect?
For reviews of Kinect games currently on the market, check out our Kinect Game Reviews section
What Does Kinect's Future Look Like?
As of 2012, Kinect's future is kind of bleak. There aren't any major new releases announced for 2013, so it seems like the Kinect ship has likely sailed. There are lots of titles already on the market, though, that you can get for relatively cheap, that are worth checking out. Our policy is that the cheaper a game gets, the less you should pay attention to reviews, and there are lots of mediocre to bad Kinect titles out there that might be fun (or offer easy achievements at least) for $10 or less.
What Else Can Kinect Do Besides Play Games?
Kinect can do more than play games. You can use motion controls, and voice controls, to use the Xbox 360 dashboard. You just speak the word "Xbox", then "Kinect", and then any available voice commands will pop up on screen. You just say what you want to do, and your Xbox 360 does it. Very cool.
Kinect is also a camera at heart, which means you can video chat with your friends on Xbox Live with it. It is smart, too, and can actually automatically adjust to keep you in frame if you move around.
Should I Get Kinect?
If you have the space to set it up, Kinect can work amazingly well. It really is genuinely fun to use, and gives videogames a completely different feel than any other controller option before it. It is simple enough that kids, grandparents who never played videogames before, and casual gamers all can use it and have a ton of fun. If you love the Wii, you'll love Kinect. If you fit into that category, it is a pretty solid purchase. Just keep in mind that, as of 2012, there isn't much of a future for new games.
If you are a hardcore gamer who prefers competitive online multiplayer, first-person-shooters, and intense action, however, Kinect might not be for you. It is unknown just how much you can do with Kinect, and it might not be capable of those sort of games. We'll have to see what developers come up with in 2011 as far as "hardcore" games go. If the more casual Wii offerings don't appeal to you, I'd wait on Kinect until some new games are announced.
For anyone else - as in not casual but not hardcore - Kinect comes down to this: Do you want to have fun, and don't mind looking silly doing it? Kinect is a pretty neat piece of technology that, with the right games, works pretty darn well. It gives you the same warm fuzzies that Wii Sports did back in 2006. And that is a good thing.