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 types of industries. Where Kinect hasn't shined, however, is Xbox One. That's not to say it's useles, however. Far from it. Kinect simply wasn't allowed to realize its full potential.

Regardless of Microsoft's complete abandonment of the accessory, is it worth buying (probably used at this point) in 2018? Here are a few reasons you might want to (and might want to not) consider it.

See Kinect at Amazon

Voice controls

Probably the best reason to get a Kinect right now is the voice commands it enables, allowing you to navigate the dashboard, control media, and even your TV with 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).

Cortana 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 can be a little frustrating if it fails multiple times. But when it's gone, I will really miss it.

There's evidence to suggest that Microsoft is bringing Amazon Echo and Google Assistant support to Xbox One, which would supersede the need to buy Kinect for voice controls completely. The leaked settings page hasn't yet materialized into public support, but it can't be far off.

Using Cortana on Xbox One with Kinect: Command List

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'll need a Kinect to get that functionality.

The IR blaster isn't only useful for controlling your TV, however. If your Xbox is tucked neatly away behind your television or you want to place it in a cupboard or something, you might have trouble registering your Xbox controllers wirelessly. The Kinect boosts the wireless range of the Xbox controllers by a significant amount, which can be useful in certain situations.

Games

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 led to decreased interest, and decreased usage led to developer abandonment. There simply aren't many Kinect games launching for this thing anymore, but that doesn't mean there isn't a decent back catalog of games you can pick up and play.

Most of the games are suitable for children and can be a fun way for them to play and exercise at the same time. Games like Kinect Sports and Disney's Fantasia really showcase how Kinect can appeal to younger audiences, or even older gamers who want to be more active. There are even a couple of games that are more suited to older gamers, such as the whimsical D4 or the violent (and racy) Blue Estate. There are a few older core Xbox One games such as RYSE and Dragon Age Inquisition that support voice commands for casting spells and using abilities, too.

We have a bigger list of the best Xbox One Kinect games over here.

Best Xbox One Kinect Games

Final thoughts on Kinect in 2018

Kinect might not be the Amazon Echo competitor it could've been, nor did it change the way we interact with games forever. The tech might live on in HoloLens, but Microsoft has completely stopped making new units. That said, I always miss it when it's not plugged in.

Considering you can find it for around $45 used on Amazon these days, for me, it would be a no-brainer to buy a new one if I somehow couldn't use my current one. On the Xbox One X and Xbox One S, however, you will need to buy a pricey adapter which is also no longer in production. But they're available on Amazon for around $100.

I love being able to control my TV with voice, I occasionally use Cortana commands, and the improved range on the IR blaster gels nicely with my personal setup. I rarely use it to game, but my younger relatives have enjoyed it in the past, and sometimes it's fun to join as well.

The fact is, Microsoft is no longer producing this thing. The prices for the adapter are extortionate, and the base unit is large and clunky by today's standards. My advice would be to simply wait for Amazon Echo support to arrive. An Echo Dot is just $40, and provides way more functionality by itself than Kinect can. If Echo support really does arrive, as the leaked settings page suggests, it will be far better than buying a second-hand Kinect with an adapter, unless you want to try out the camera for the motion games.

See Kinect at Amazon

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