Is Xbox Kinect still worth buying in 2023?
Do not buy Kinect, please.
Is Xbox One Kinect still worth buying in 2022?
Best answer: There is a small yet passionate Kinect homebrew scene, but if you're a consumer, the answer is simply no. No way, no how. Kinect is a dead accessory, with canceled support by Microsoft. A second-hand unit will still function for the small library of available games on an original Xbox One console and provide modest voice command support. However, you're far better off just grabbing an Amazon Echo for the latter feature.
What happened to Kinect?
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Microsoft's misunderstood audio-visual peripheral was, at one point, the fastest-selling consumer electronics device of all time, believe it or not, with over 10 million units sold during the first six months after its release. Of course, that was the Xbox 360 version, which was vastly inferior to the "V2" version available on the Xbox One and Windows PCs.
Despite the superior power of Kinect V2, a combination of poor messaging, bad positioning, and lackluster software support led Kinect V2 as an Xbox accessory down the path of obscurity, right into being killed off completely. The technology Kinect spawned lives on as part of HoloLens and Microsoft's partnered Windows Mixed Reality headsets, and Kinect has been used in a wide array of bespoke projects in various other industries. Where Kinect didn't shine, however, is with the Xbox One. That's not to say it was useless. It simply wasn't allowed to realize its full potential.
To even use a Kinect (second hand or otherwise), you need a pricey adapter for modern Xbox consoles that can be hard to find. However, there are alternative third-party adapters like this one that do seem to do the job. There are so many hurdles to overcome to get your hands on a Kinect that I'd argue it's not worth the effort.
Microsoft blundered when it launched the Kinect V2, bundling it with the Xbox One and driving up the total price. To bring that price tag back down, the Kinect was sacrificed. The stigma it generated probably led to decreased interest, and decreased usage led to developer abandonment.
There's no reason to expect any new Kinect games to hit the platform any time soon, (especially as it's not supported on Series X|S) and the available ones aren't exactly show-stopping "must play" games. They can provide some fleeting entertainment, but I still don't think that makes recommending a Kinect worthwhile.
Why an Amazon Echo is better
Probably the best reason to get a Kinect right now is for the voice commands, allowing you to navigate the dashboard, control media, and even to use your TV with a proper setup. You can issue commands like "Xbox, play Battlefield 1," or "Xbox, turn up the volume," and you can turn up the functionality to 11 by enabling Cortana (while sacrificing some usability in the process).
Activating Cortana or Amazon Alexa integration will allow you to issue more complex commands like "What's the weather like?" and "What is my friend Dave doing?" You can even do things like set and receive reminders and enjoy the vast majority of Cortana features that are available on Windows 10. That said, she is sadly unresponsive compared to the stock Xbox voice commands that are enabled by default.
Ultimately, Kinect will enhance your Xbox media viewing experience by giving you access to voice commands, providing you set up the microphones correctly. It doesn't always work, of course, and it can be a little frustrating if it fails multiple times, but when it's gone, I will miss it.
The thing is, the cheaper, more versatile, and crucially, supported Amazon Echo can do all of the same stuff. Amazon Echo devices are cheap, and have far, far more voice features than Kinect. Cortana speakers like the Harman Kardon Invoke can also achieve the same effect, but Microsoft's support of Cortana-based hardware hasn't exactly been reassuring.
What about Kinect's IR blaster?
The Xbox One S and Xbox One X come with an IR Blaster as standard, meaning that they can send signals to your TV to control volume and power, but if you're using the original Xbox One, you could grab a Kinect to get that functionality. However, it's a pretty costly option. You can add IR blaster functionality to your Xbox One with an IR dongle as cheap as $7.
Kinect homebrew scene
The only real use for Kinect these days is for those with a tinkerer mindset. There are people using Kinect cameras to make all sorts of fun gadgets, if you're so-minded. Most of these projects aren't necessarily things the vast majority of people would be interested in, most likely. If you were here for the regular consumer-grade Kinect experience, there's simply very little on offer these days.
Kinect has found its way into various applications, from facial recognition for dynamic ads in some malls and superstores to occasional experimental medical uses. In general, though, Kinect is no longer supported, with its tech stripped out for the similarly dying HoloLens headset.
Get yourself an Amazon Echo instead
At this point, it simply does not make a whole lot of sense to buy a Kinect. You'll be much better off with an Amazon Echo. And it'll work with the Xbox Series X|S consoles as well.
Kinect is officially dead. We'll miss it, but it has no place anymore.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!