The Xbox One X’s $500 price tag may take it out of the running when it comes to dedicated set-top boxes. But if you’re getting it to play 4K/HDR games anyway, you’ll find that this is, in fact, one of the most versatile devices you can put in your living room.

From an entertainment app perspective, the Xbox One X is no different from any Xbox One, of course: It supports all the popular apps, including Amazon Video, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, Sling TV, Spotify, YouTube, YouTube TV, and more. If you’ve got a compatible set, it supports 4K video (like all Xbox Ones) and HDR (like Xbox One S) too through many of those apps, too.

It’s also the only dedicated set-top box that can access Microsoft’s Movies & TV service. So if you’ve purchased content from there—shame on you—or want high-quality rentals, this is a great source.

As for the other big two content providers, it’s a mixed bag. Apple, of course, is only supported on the firm’s own devices, like Apple TV. And Google’s music service is nowhere to be seen, though as I pointed out in the past (for Apple TV), you can access Google Play Movies & TV content through the YouTube app, which is available. It works fine on Xbox One X too. (Though in HD only. Any 4K purchased content is not available in 4K.)

Like the Xbox One S, the Xbox One X has another major advantage over inexpensive set-top boxes like Roku and Apple TV: It can play Blu-Ray discs in both 4K/UHD and HDR. The quality is astonishing and makes a good argument for anyone not sold on our streaming video future. (You will need to install Microsoft’s free Blu-ray Player app first.)

I’m not currently testing this, but Xbox One X—like all Xbox Ones—can also pass-through and control your old-school cable or satellite TV setup, your AV receiver, and more. Unique among Xbox Ones, the Xbox One X also supports Dolby Atmos spatial sound in addition to standard surround sound. It’s full meal deal.

That said, there is one additional purchase you’ll need is a dedicated remote control: The Xbox One Controller is great for games, but it’s a bit awkward for media, and it will shut down after short periods of non-use.

Microsoft still sells the original stubby Xbox One Media Remote, but I’m curious they’ve never updated it. That remote is OK, but I strongly recommend getting a Logitech Harmony smart remote, like the one I wrote about last week. This thing is money, and once you do take the plunge, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.

So is the Xbox One X the ultimate entertainment console? The answer, obviously, is yes. But that power comes at a price, and my recommendation, for now, is to come for 4K/UHD/HDR games if you have compatible hardware. The entertainment functionality is just a neat extra that you’ll come to appreciate.

 

 

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November 8, 2017

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