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


View All Comments

  • brundleflyguy - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    "My guess is, if you are using a projector, you should put Kinect in front of you... if there is enough cable length."

    Yeah, I know. :)

    My current set up is:


    I can't get much closer to the wall or my shadow blocks the projected image. My question is: If I replace the WiiBar and the Wii with the Kinect and XBox360 (respectively) would that work? Or would I be too close/far away from some component? I know I can get an active USB cable to reach from the XBox360 to the Kinect.
  • JonathanYoung - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    I think I used up my quota for seeing the word "itself" in an article. Reply
  • brshoemak - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    Totally OT, but I loved the pictures showed for Xzibit - we just need active content to rotate 'yo dawg' taglines over it. Reply
  • GTVic - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    I shall now title all of my comments with my name. Reply
  • melgross - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    I don't have an XBox and aren't interested in getting one, so I'm no XBox fanboy. But, for all those complaining about various problems, just remember that this is a 1st generation product. It's the first device of its type in the consumer market. It's got its problems, but it does a credible job. A year or two from now, either MS, or Sony, or Nintendo, or Apple will come out with a new one that works much better, as always happens. But this seems pretty good for what it is in this timespace. Reply
  • Portablenuke - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    Forget the Kinect, where can I get wafer mask coasters!? Reply
  • trip1ex - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    I think the reviewer was a little too generous.

    First he's too hung up on the fact you can cheat on the Wii. SEems to be his basis for liking Kinect.

    I don't think he called out Kinect enough on its drawbacks or the quality of some of the games.

    See what the reviewer failed to mention is how sloppy many of the games are.

    Take Kinect Adventures.

    YOu have to jump way before you think you have to in one of the games. Pretty darn laggy. And there's jaggedy jumping animation as well.

    Waving your arms to hit balls in another game was just so un precise. You basically swing in the ballpark and you connect. It doesn't leave you with a solid precise feeling. You don't feel connected to what is happening on the screen. There's something missing between your actions and what happens on the screen.

    It's the same with plugging wiki-leaks in Kinect Adventures. You see where the leak is and even though KInect tracks your hand/arm fairly accurately you're still just reaching in the dark to plug the Wiki-leak. There is no preciseness or feedback to the gameplay. OH this leak is down here somewhere I will just move my hand down there in the general vicinity until the screen shows the hole is plugged.

    The only thing I found Kinect did really well in Kinect Adventures was track me as I moved left and right to avoid obstacles in the "moving platform" game. That was the only solid part.

    Overall I found the KA and the integration of Kinect into the dashboard along with the voice commands and hand gestures to be pretty sloppy. I think that after the xmas gold rush wears off this device is going to die out pretty quickly unless someone comes out with a killer app.
  • DanaG - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    Is there any way to put the XBox 360 in a sort of "kiosk" mode, where the only way to exit games would be to push a button somewhere? I see online that there's some "kiosk mode" disk, but I have no idea what other features it would disable, and that kiosk mode is supposedly irreversible. Reply
  • DanaG - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    I'd be interested to see how much of that latency is caused by the receiver and the TV. I've seen some TVs where even a computer mouse is laggy enough to notice even with game mode (that disabled itself every time you turned off the TV); I had to switch back from HDMI to VGA on that device.

    Please try connecting the 360's HDMI to a known low-latency monitor that can do 720 or 1080.
  • clasam - Saturday, December 11, 2010 - link

    Could we get an update about the lag WITHOUT the Onkyo ? Thx! Reply

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