Grading The Fakes: Xbox One

by Matt Helgeson on Oct 22, 2013 at 12:27 PM

In the run-up to any new console, there's a deluge of fan-created concepts and bogus "leaked images" of the hardware. Now that the Xbox One is almost here, we decided to look back as some of the best and worst of the fakes. Gamers have been split on the final design of the Xbox One. Some (like myself) like the simplicity, others feel that it's a bit drab and resembles a 1980s VCR. The concept and fake Xbox Ones that I tracked down are a diverse bunch – ranging from minimal to bizarre.

[Previous Story: Grading The Fakes: PlayStation 4]

Digital Pet

This one isn't believable in the least – and I expect that it was done more as an outrageous "what if?" design experiment than an actual attempt to guess what the Durango (Xbox One's codename) would look like. It's not something that will fit easily into your entertainment console – in fact, it looks more like a robotic pet from an old science fiction movie than a console. Points for creativity, but overall I'm not sold. D

Outside The Box

This one is interesting. Obviously, it's very far from the actual console, but I like the fact that this designer got really imaginative with the Durango. In this case, he or she has envisioned something that's not a traditional console at all, but a table-style unit that (presumably) interfaces with your television or can but used alone. It looks like this convex design is mean to be used on your lap with touch controls on the main screen, a smaller (touch?) screen on the left, and a keyboard attachment at the bottom. Again, it's pretty far-fetched but it is intriguing. B-

Conventional Wisdom

[Source: Xbox World Magazine]

This image was created by Xbox World for its second-to-last issue, and eight-page article revealing all the the information its editors knew about Durango. The editors based their design off of rumors, information from sources, and other Microsoft products: "We built ours with the same glossy face and patented VapourMG magnesium alloy Microsoft uses for its Surface tablet, and modelled the silver band after its new 'Wedge' touch keyboard and flexible Arc Touch mouse. The future will be black, sharp and curved."

They were right about some things. The future is black and sharp...curved, not so much. However, the basics of design are pretty close to what Microsoft created, it's a black, minimal design with a build quality well above that of the original 360. It also, like the Xbox One, has some classy metal trim. While this is a bit close to Apple's Mac Mini and Apple TV units, I'm a big fan Xbox World's work here. A

Standing Tall

[Source: NewXbox720.com]

The Durango/Xbox One seems to have inspired wilder designs than the PlayStation 4. This standing, circular unit has clear glass over the game disc and what looks to be touchscreen controls above. More than a game console, it reminds me a bit of CD and DVD players built by the eccentric (and overpriced) Bang and Olufsen company (see picture here]. C

Needs To Try Harder

Okay I've seen some lame fakes in my day but this one takes the cake. Number one, this is just an Xbox 360 Slim with a poorly done "720" Photoshopped over the "360." Number two, there's zero chance that Microsoft would ever tout Blur-ray – a technology it only grudgingly adapted in the first place – so prominently on the front. Number three, you didn't even try to make it look like the "Blu-ray" was even written on the disc drive. Number four, TWO DISC DRIVES? That is incredibly dumb. What would you use two disc drives for? If anything, it was more likely that the Durango has no disc drive at all. Number five, this sucks. F

Very Convincing

[Design by Joseph Dumary]

This concept, created by Joseph Dumary (who did the best of the fake PlayStation 4 concepts in my last article, is an example of very professional-looking work. The design of the unit doesn't break from convention, but it does do a great job of streamlining the aesthetics of the 360 into a more modern form. I also like how Dumary went to the trouble of a designing a new Kinect sensor bar (and was correct in speculating that it would be a core part of the system). A

You Will Be Assimilated

Another example of some far-out design choice. This looks like some sort of alien warship or a hoverboard than a console. But, you know what? This this looks pretty badass. There's not chance Microsoft would make something that looks like this, but I wish they would. I love to see designers flexing their creativity like this, accuracy be damned. A-

Another Solid Entry

[Design by Joseph Dumary]

Another concept by Joseph Dumary, who has a real knack for console design. This one, again, is trying to stick to the more realistic end of the spectrum, and succeed in delivering a design that's both plausible and unique. The rounded, barrel-like front-end is cool, and I like the classy-looking metal band on the left end. Not sure how I feel about the green, but he also mocked this up in black. Solid work all around. B+

From The Far Reaches Of Imagination

Okay, this is a bit of a stretch. I don't necessarily hate it, but I never assumed that the Durange was going to be some weird jetpack-looking unit with a giant blue, glowing X in the middle. I'm not opposed to creativity in design (see two spots above on this list), but this just seems a bit...off. The ribbing in the middle reminds me of Venom from Spider-Man, and the unit itself looks oddly misshapen and asymmetric. If anything, it looks like an interesting first draft that should have revised a few times. C-

Lighten Up

The picture quality isn't great on this one, but you can still see that it's essentially a more rounded variation on a plain console box. The design isn't daring, but it's attractive and I like the idea of Microsoft going to a white unit and bucking the trend towards black. B-

What The Hell?

I might have nightmares about this fake Xbox 720 controller. It looks like something that could hurt you. With four wings, four analog sticks, two d-pads, and 18 face buttons, this controllers has it all – and then some. I have no idea how this was supposed to work. I hope it's a sick joke. F+