Lag and Conclusions

So what about lag on Kinect? It’s definitely there, but it isn’t nearly as big of a problem as it’s been chalked up to be. I decided to test how much that lag is by taking an extremely self-deprecating video of myself flailing my arms about in front of Kinect, and inspect the video to see how much delay there is between me sweeping my arm up, and the TV reflecting that change. I just used the Kinect tuner since it’s full screen and does body tracking, and later counted how many frames it took after my hand reached the top of an arc for the image to also reflect the change. 

At the end of the day, I measured between 8-10 frames of input lag, which at 29.96 FPS works out to 267 ms of input lag. Of course, that number also includes my Onkyo TX-SR608 A/V receiver, which (even in game mode) adds a substantial and perceptible amount of latency to the whole display chain. For the caliber of games currently rolled out which support Kinect, lag honestly isn’t that big of a deal. I found it definitely noticeable in the Kinect Adventures obstacle course, and somewhat noticeable when playing Kinect Sports and running hurdles, but everywhere else, while noticeable, it isn’t a game-killer. Don’t get me wrong, 267 ms is seriously laggy, but right now it doesn’t matter too much. Maybe when we get FPS titles that’ll change. 

I think it’s fair to say that Kinect thoroughly rains on the Wii’s parade, and enjoys a substantial lead over Sony Move if nothing else entirely due to lower out-the-door cost. One of the best parts of Kinect is that you really do only need the sensor to play games - there’s no sets of controllers, camera, or kit to purchase. If you've got a room that's large enough, Kinect is perfect. On the other hand, there's no possible way that Kinect would ever work in the average dorm room - you really do need 9' - 12' behind the TV to play with two people.

 

The rest of what Kinect does is really just mitigate a lot of the motion-cheating I felt was possible with the Wii, some of which is still possible with Move by holding the wand close to the sensor. Adding real depth detection and forcing players to actually move around has done a lot more to make me move instead of wrist-flick than any of the other motion-augmented console addons did.

Does Kinect breathe enough life into the Xbox 360 to make it last another few years? I suppose, but only for as long as Kinect titles can deliver new and more interesting gestures, immersion, and interaction events. For now, however, I’m having enough fun motion trash-talking people in Kinect Sports to keep me entertained for at least until the next major console blockbuster title.

Kinectimals and Kinect Joy Ride
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  • Quidam67 - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    I agree with this. The distance is just not realistic for most lounge set ups. I could go minimalist and ditch the sofa, and you know, just sit on the floor, but really, that's asking a lot just so I can play Kinnect games. Reply
  • Aloonatic - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    Unrealistic for most living rooms, so how on earth they expect this to fly in many kids bedrooms too, I have no idea. And how many kids have TVs taht would be big enough to be viewed that well from those sorts of distances too.

    Kinect seems like a great idea and tech that is perhaps just a little ahead of it's time, so unusable by many, even if they really really really* wanted to.

    * One would need to really really really really want to use Kinect to justify moving to a new house so that you might be able to :o)
    Reply
  • Nataku - Monday, December 13, 2010 - link

    I've actually seen the toy in action at the mall and people were standing only 4~5' away and it seems to work ok... im getting the feeling that the bigger you are the further back you need to be and if your only a kid you can be much closer than an adult would be able to...

    i don't see how screen size is an issue though, they are demoing these things off of 27"~30" TV sets...
    Reply
  • Patrick Wolf - Thursday, December 9, 2010 - link

    Kinect is going to be the new Wii, everyone will have one but no one will use it. Actually not everybody since not everyone can use it. Reply
  • Quidam67 - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    Not that I want to come across all negative, but given how long ms have been working on this complex project (I assume as a means to stretch the 360's lifespan and to invade the Wii's market at the expense of snubbing their existing one) I have to say this is just a big non-event for me. Honestly, I wish they had put their resources into putting out an "evolutionary" upgrade.

    I mean, this idea that the next gen of console has to be based on completely new hardware, with incompatible development tools, so everyone is starting froom zero is a paradigm I challenge. Why couldn't they treat it like a PC upgrade? Release a new xbox 540 that is fully software compatible with all the old 360 games I own now (without resorting to buggy and expensive software emulation) but has at least twice the memory, perhaps an extra couple of cores, a more powerful gpu. eg true 1080p gaming support.

    Then they could start transitioning over to the new machine by releasing a game that will run on both machines, but will allow better graphic settings if you are running it on the new rig. I don't know, maybe I'm just bummed out that this gen of consoles is really starting to show its technological age, and I don't see how tacking on an impractical new control device prolongs the lifespan of such dated hardware. To say nothing of what this means for PC games, which are now largely driven by the console market.

    Disappointed
    Reply
  • mcnabney - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    I thought the purpose of the console is to 100% compatibility for all owners with all games?

    What you are describing is more like a PC with incrementle improvements to the system from year to year.
    Reply
  • Quidam67 - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    In a sense, yes, but the hardware is still far more controlled. It's not like you can buy a GPU and swap it out with the old one. I'm just suggesting a more evolutionary approach, and one that offers better compatibility with the technology that preceeded it.

    The game console industry has never worked that way, but I don't think that is in itself a reason why this is not a good idea. I know for a fact some high profile developers abandoned the console industry precicely because all their assets were rendered redundant every time a new round of consoles came out.

    It doesn't have to be that way.
    Reply
  • dustcrusher - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    Almost every incremental console upgrade attempted thus far has been a huge failure. Atari 5200, Sega CD, Sega 32X- need I go on? Coleco had a couple of minor successes in the Expansion Module 1 and the ADAM but neither were money makers- in fact, the ADAM was one of the first consoles with cheap and easy piracy, so Coleco lost a ton on it.

    The cost in time and money would be better spent on the Xbox 720, or whatever the next system will be.

    And for a Springer-esque Final Thought, it's the fun that counts. The latest and greatest tech means nothing if the games aren't fun, and the majority of new games that tout bleeding edge graphics engines seem to be derivatives of the same tired formulas. Honestly, with a couple of exceptions I've gotten the most mileage from my 360 out of Live Arcade, because the games there focus on being fun first.
    Reply
  • Quidam67 - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    With all due respect, those consoles are hardly comparable to the sort of market-share and brand recognition that that the Xbox 360 now enjoys.

    You say the time would be better spent developing the 720,which I assume entails the same as all the other new gen consoles, ie. no legitimate backwards compatibility, and an architecture designed to reduce manufacturing costs at the expense of requiring a whole new set of development tools -an extremely complex and expensive re-enineering task just to get you back to where you were before.

    I can only speak for myself, and yes maybe I do think differently from the masses, but if ms had launched a xbox 540 with say a Gears of War 3 enhanced version that ran in 1080p on the new console, I'd be all over it. The Kinnect, on the other hand is not something I'd want on my machine even if they offered to me for free. All it would do is gather dust.
    Reply
  • gvaley - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    "...267 ms is seriously laggy, but right now it doesn’t matter too much. Maybe when we get FPS titles that’ll change."

    The way businesses work, I expect to see a ton of intentionally crippled AI in upcoming Kinect FPS games so you can have enough time to shoot the target.

    Not that this will be a one off. Every time something goes hip the technology bends back to cash in on it, pushing back progress with years in some cases. (Think of the iPhone/Android and the way smartphones are built today. For us people who were used to their high-end pre-smartphone era Sony Ericssons or Nokias, smartphones are a huge setback in terms of usability. [The volume rockers regulate ringer volume? Really? That's the dumbest idea ever. Not only it's not helpful, it's actually dangerous 'cause you can incidentally turn silent mode off and miss that important call.])

    Having said that, I'm eager on Kinect 2 in several years when the technology (and price) would allow for most kinks to be ironed out.
    Reply

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