Xbox Game Pass is here, and it’s a great value for new Xbox One owners

When I first heard about Xbox Game Pass earlier this year I was excited, especially after finding out that you would be able to download the games as opposed to streaming as you do with PlayStation Now. $9.99 a month gives you access to over 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 (backwards compatible) games that can be downloaded and played as much as you like as long as you’re a subscriber. This is a great way for anyone who is new to Xbox One to get a great library of games for very little upfront investment. Many of the games have been available at deep discounts or for free as part of Games with Gold, however there’s still plenty to try out even for those who have been gaming on the Xbox One for awhile.

Last night I queued up several games, including NBA 2K16, Mad Max, Payday 2 and Grid 2. I’d download many more, but my data cap wouldn’t be happy. Other notable titles (most of which I already own) are Halo 5, Gears 1-3, Massive Chalice and Roundabout. There’s plenty to check out, and there’s even a free 7 day trial if you’re unsure of the service. If you have the bandwidth I’d recommend enrolling in the trial and downloading any games you might have missed out on over the years.

I’m looking forward to seeing what additional games come to the service as it ages, and am glad Microsoft is continuing to support Xbox One owners with another great service.

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A look at Sling TV (on the Xbox One)

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So I should start off by saying I’m not a cord cutter, and I probably never will be one. I enjoy having a traditional “cable” service. We have DISH Network and enjoy it immensely. I love channel surfing and having a large variety of content, even if most of it I just leave on to fall asleep to (or leave on in the background). I also enjoy watching live sports, and so far it’s not very easy to do so outside of cable / satellite TV. MLB.tv and WWE Network are steps in the right direction, but the NFL is still locked down tightly (the only negative thing about having DISH is not having as much access to the NFL).

With that out of the way, you’re probably puzzled as to why I would sign up for Sling TV if I already subscribe to DISH (and pay over $100 a month). Well, I have to say I’m a huge fan of new ways to consume entertainment, and services such as Sling TV, Playstation Vue, HBO’s new cable free service and the forthcoming Apple streaming TV service are wonderful for all consumers.

These services are great for the college student who can’t afford cable, those in living situations where installing cable or satellite TV isn’t practical, and those who know exactly what they want and don’t want to pay for what they don’t watch.

Sling TV starts at $20 a month, and is completely commitment free. No contract, no extra fees, cancel any time. Heck, you don’t even have to deal with customer retention services to cancel, you can do so right from your account (though I haven’t tried canceling yet as I’ve just signed up).

The sign up process on the Xbox One was a breeze. I was signed up in a matter of minutes. Xbox One users are able to try out Sling TV for 30 days free. You can also add ALL of the add on packages ($5/mo each) for free for the first 30 days as well. Set up your package, enter your payment information and there you have it, you can jump right into watching live TV.

The picture quality is great. I have a 50mbps connection and I can’t tell the difference between a channel on Sling TV when compared to the same channel coming through my DISH. There is some buffering that causes a subpar picture for a few seconds when first switching to a channel, but it quickly clears up (I imagine this could be worse or better depending on your internet connection).

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If you have a data cap, using a streaming TV service might not be practical if you watch a lot of TV. We have a 400GB monthly cap that I already eat into a good bit by downloading games and watching Netflix. If I tried to use Sling TV as my primary TV service I would easily blow through my data cap. I checked my bandwidth usage on my Xbox after using Sling TV for about twenty minutes and found that I had used 638MB during that period. I wasn’t downloading anything else, but I wasn’t watching the data in real time so I can’t say for sure how much of that was used by Sling TV. Still, it’s a pretty high number so you can imagine how much data you’d use in a month.

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The Sling TV interface is clean and easy to navigate, though I think the DISH interface is easier to navigate (though not as good looking). I like that when viewing a channel’s schedule you’ll see pictures for most of the upcoming shows or movies. However, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to see everything that is on all the channels without scanning through each one. I could be missing something, but I don’t see any sort of traditional guide.

Sling TV guide (xbox one)

 

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Sling TV’s base package includes a lot of high demand channels such as ESPN, TBS, AMC, IFC and Cartoon Network. With the $5 addon packages you can get even more content, such as the sports pack (ESPN News, ESPN U, Universal Sports Network among others), movies (four EPIX channels and Sundance), news and more.

So far I’m pretty impressed with the service. I’m excited to see if these services can affect the traditional cable services, possibly giving users more control over what they get for their money. We can only hope!