Last year when the Xbox One launched, you could get it in any color you wanted – as long as it was black. But select Microsoft staff members received a white console with the words " I made this" emblazoned on both the system and the controller. The gamers among us who aren't fixated on black electronics (boring!) looked on with much envy.
This week, white Xbox One consoles finally became available to the masses (sans Kinect) as part of the limited edition Sunset Overdrive bundle. Ringing up at $400 ($350 next week), the bundle includes a white console and controller, black headset, and a download code for the Day One Edition of Sunset Overdrive. I anxiously waited outside of my local BestBuy so that I could snag a white console the minute the store opened. Read on for our impossibly detailed review and unboxing video of the highly sought after Xbox One bundle!
Big blue box
Part of the fun of a well-done hardware bundle or tie-in is the special packaging. If the box looks just like a regular box with a palette swapped item or a sticker stuck over it, that's just a letdown. Microsoft went all-out with a genuinely nice box for the limited edition Titanfall controller earlier this year, and they've done just as fine a job on the Sunset Overdrive console box.
The white console's box is mostly bright blue with a smattering of orange and other bright colors. One of the two main sides focuses on the white console itself, with a protagonist character, an enemy, and some clouds surrounding the periphery. The other side is just pure Sunset Overdrive, with both a male and female protagonist and a bunch of monsters on display.
The game's art in general leans a tad towards cynically in-your-face, but it still makes for a much more exciting box than the regular console gets.
The console itself
Externally, the Sunset Overdrive console is identical to the original black Xbox One that we reviewed last year. Still, it's fun to analyze the new console with a fine tooth comb and analyze the aesthetic choices involved in its design.
Let's start at the top then. The top of the console consists of two primary areas. On the left side, the plastic has a glossy finish. An engraved Xbox logo sits at the bottom left corner of this area, towards the front edge of the system.
The entire right side of the system's top hosts a gigantic vent made from matte white plastic. When viewed from an angle, you can detect a large, dark circular area within the vent which is where the heat actually leaves the inside of the system. It stands out a lot more than on the all-black console.
The front of this Xbox One has matte white plastic on the left, glossy plastic on the right. It makes sort of a checkerboard pattern when you look at both the front and top at the same time – the glossy and matte parts alternate instead of continuing uninterrupted from the top to the front.
On the left side of the console face lies the Blu-ray drive slot. The area surrounding the slot and the Eject button on the right side of the slot are colored in chrome. The right side of the face is blank except for the capacitive power button. Capacitive buttons are technologically impressive, but functionally worse since they're far too easy to press by mistake.
The power button is shaped like the "X" part of the Xbox logo. When powered off, the logo has a metallic chrome color. Turn it on and the chrome lights up white, just like on the black console. But the white light on white plastic here creates a unique effect which I find very cool.
The left side of the console has white plastic around its edges, but the majority of it is covered by black vents. You'll find the system's primary USB 3.0 port near the front of the side, along with the chrome controller Sync button (which connects to the drive slot area).
The system's right side has a large black vent too, but it only covers the bottom half of that side instead of the entire area. These black on white portions surely save Microsoft a little money (since they can be shared between the regular Xbox One and the white model), but they also add some attractive contrast with the largely white console surface.
Surprisingly, the white Xbox One's rear has no black portions at all. The vent that runs above the various input and output ports is white, just like the area surrounding the ports. The ports themselves are all black, but nobody expected otherwise.
Controller and headset
The white Xbox One controller is a thing of beauty. The front and sides of the controller are made of textured matte white plastic, providing excellent grip without attracting unnecessary fingerprints. The black analog sticks, d-pad, and face buttons stand out nicely on the controller face.
The top portion of the controller comes in glossy black plastic and houses the chrome Home button and black bumpers and triggers. The glossiness isn't bad there because you handle those areas less than the main body of the controller, not that bumpers and triggers really need to be glossy. The middle area on the back of the controller (including the battery compartment) is matte black plastic.
The black portions of the controller should be expected since the white Titanfall controller had the same black touches. I wouldn't mind seeing a controller without the black areas someday, but for now Microsoft chooses to use them to give the white controller that welcome contrast. It matches the console (with its black sides) nicely.
The only way to get the white controller at present is with the Sunset Overdrive console. Microsoft will likely sell this controller on its own someday, but not this year.
Meanwhile, the pack-in headset comes in black – with just a touch of green around the earpiece. You'd get the exact same headset with the black Xbox One. White would have been nice, but these headsets aren't exactly made to last forever. You'll likely have to replace yours when the thin cord wears out someday anyway.
Almost the perfect console
The Sunset Overdrive Special Edition Xbox One is a wonderful package. You get a unique system and controller, plus a download code for one of this year's hottest Xbox One exclusives – a $60 value. Oh, and two weeks of Xbox Live Gold.
The white system has just two drawbacks. One: it doesn't include a Kinect. You can buy a Kinect to go along with it, but it will be black instead of white. That makes perfect business sense given the low demand for Kinect among gamers. It also helps keep the price of the system down to $400 or less as opposed to $500, which means more systems sold.
Less justifiable is the system's internal 500 GB hard drive. The silver Call of Duty console that comes out next week will feature a 1 TB hard drive, offering twice the built-in storage space (at a higher price of $500). That larger hard drive size really should be the default in this day of mandatory installations and downloadable games.
The Xbox One supports external hard drives of course, and I love the extra space my 4 TB external gives me. But Microsoft's choice to cheap out on a 500 GB hard drive will surely lead to some gamers reducing or avoiding purchases when they run low on space instead of buying an external drive. Better to give consumers more room to spend, even if it costs a few more bucks during the manufacturing process.
Still, when faced with the choice of the Sunset Overdrive and Call of Duty consoles, I chose the former. The sleek white console is simply much prettier to me than the overly busy design of the Call of Duty system. I also find Sunset Overdrive a more compelling pack in game than Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, but I'm still interested in both games.
If you're simply looking for a new Xbox One system this year, the white console is an easy pick over a console with no game. Beyond that, you'll probably want to weigh your desire for the games included with the other bundles. Our reviewer Jonathan loved Sunset Overdrive, and that's a game you can't play on Playstation 4 or PC.
Just keep in mind that this bundle is selling out online and might not be available for too much longer. Better to get it while the getting's good!