Did that big, fancily-wrapped box under your tree turn out to be a big, fancy new Xbox One? Nice. Or maybe you've had the regular Xbox One for a while already, and decided to upgrade to the 4K/HDR capable Xbox One S? Sweet deal.
In either case, your new Xbox may be the main course of your gaming meal, but getting the most out of it means pairing it with some side dishes—or rather, accessories. Whether it's a headset that'll help you soak up a game's soundtrack or rechargeable batteries that save money, these are the best accessories for the Xbox One and Xbox One S.
Back in the Xbox 360 days, it was unheard of it buy a new console and not get a chat headset bundled with it in the box, but that isn't the case with the Xbox One. In fact, a majority of the bundles—what everyone is buying for the holidays—don't include one at all. I bought an Xbox One for my brother a few months back, and he opened it up to find there was no chat headset, meaning we couldn't talk while we played. Lame.
Sure, you can plug any headphones with an in-line mic into Xbox One controller to hear game audio/teammates and communicate with them, but in my experience it's usually an inconsistent and low-quality solution. The traditional chat headset is a small, mono-speaker headband that's super easy to use, and isn't all that expensive in the grand scheme of things. It's nowhere near the legitimate, higher-quality headsets out there, but if you just want to be able to talk with friends while you game, it's a must-have.
The standard chat headset is fine for just chatting, but if you're looking to up the ante a bit, you'll want to invest in something more robust. The Ear Force XO One has been my go-to for several months, and for good reason; as a full stereo headset, it provides very crisp and reliable audio, both in terms of teammates' voices and game sound. The microphone is amply loud without overpowering your teammates, and it's comfy enough to wear for hours.
This one's especially good for online competitive gaming, such as FPS titles or shooters. Location-based stereo audio makes it a little easier to hear the locations of things like enemy gunfire or footsteps. It also includes its own version of the Xbox One chat adapter (which for many Xbox headsets, must be purchased separately) that provides the standard controls for volume, chat/audio balance, and mic muting. Plus, it even has a two-mode bass boost.
With the newer Xbox One controllers, you can plug any headset or headphones into your Xbox controller's 3.5mm jack and listen to game audio. If the headphones have an in-line microphone, it will usually work too (albeit poorly). If you'd rather use your existing headphones or headset instead of buying a new one, we definitely recommend at the very least investing in the stereo headset adapter.
The adapter will allow you to adjust overall volume, how loud teammates are relative to how loud the game is, and to mute your microphone when you need to. Without it, you'll have to open and manually adjust these settings outside of games you're playing. It can be done mid-game, but it's a pain to do on the fly. Trust me—your entire communication experience is going to be much smoother with the headset adapter.
When the Kinect first launched for the Xbox 360, it was kind of a flop. The voice recognition was shoddy, and motion tracking? Eeeehhhhh... sometimes, sometimes not. The new Kinect is way better. It recognizes voice commands and tracks gestures almost flawlessly (at least by comparison).
You can use it to control media with your voice, stream face (or couch) capture to Twitch, take Skype calls, and so much more. For many Xbox One owners, it's an integral part of the system. While it's a little pricy, being able to ask Microsoft's Cortana to open Netflix while you're straightening up or cooking dinner is pretty priceless.
I used to use my Kinect to stream games like Overwatch to Twitch. No one watched, but it was a lot of fun. However, current and future Kinect owners should be aware that the Xbox One S, while more powerful and slimmer than the standard Xbox One, doesn't have a Kinect port. That's where this thing comes in.
If (and only if) you've got one of the newer Xbox One S models, you'll need the Xbox Kinect Adapter in order to use a Kinect with the Xbox One S. Note that if you're willing to call Microsoft Support and give them the serial number of your Kinect, you can get one for free.
The Xbox One is a gaming console first and foremost, but as the name implies, Microsoft also hopes it'll be the "one" entertainment thing you need in your living room. To that end, it even has an HDMI input so you can route your cable box right into it; it has direct access to apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus; and it plays DVDs and Blu-rays. It definitely isn't a toy.
But sometimes, having a game controller sitting around can feel a little toy-ish. Not to mention, managing whether the controller is on or not (it turns off after periods of use) can be a pain when you're binging TV or watching a movie. The phone rings, you're trying to get the controller to re-sync with the TV, and Kinect can't hear you shouting "Xbox, pause!" over the sound of the movie. In such situations, the Xbox One Media Remote quickly becomes an indispensable way to navigate your console.
The Xbox One is available with varying degrees of storage depending on the version, but most of the bundled Xbox Ones include 500GB of storage. That may sound like more than enough, but considering games run from 50 to 80 gigs on modern consoles, it can be depleted pretty quickly—especially if you're an avid gamer.
The Seagate Game Drive is a simple way to expand storage. You plug the USB into your Xbox, and can download/copy games and their DLC or expansions to it. It's just as fast and snappy as launching or running a game from the console's internal storage, and can even be a convenient way to tote your game collection along to a friend's Xbox at another location.
Okay, so this isn't really an "accessory," but it's by far my favorite Xbox One thing yet. While $150 for a controller might seem ludicrous, the Elite controller is impeccably designed, with swappable/replaceable sticks, interchangeable d-pads, rear paddles, two programmable modes, adjustable rumble and stick sensitivity—the works.
This is obviously not a necessity by any means, but for very active and/or serious Xbox gamers, it's a terrific investment. After using one for the last six months, I could never go back to the standard controller.
No matter which Xbox controller you have, by default it runs on AA batteries. This is not an ideal situation. It means you have to keep a pretty constant supply of copper-tops on hand if you game all the time, which can become an unwanted expense over time. And if the batteries die and you forgot to restock? Game Over, man.
With the Play and Charge Kit, you get a rechargeable battery and a USB cable that plugs into the controller to charge it. You can keep it plugged in all the time, charge while you play, or charge overnight. Best of all, plugging the controller in makes it "wired," which can reduce input lag marginally during very fast-paced situations.