Xbox One: What to expect the first day, the ultimate guide to an amazing experience (editorial)

Xbox One complete system (console, kinect, and controller)

I finally bought an Xbox One and I couldn’t be more pleased, this game console is amazing. I end up buying the Assassin’s Creed bundled that also include a second controller as a bonus, and I made my purchase on Black Friday, so I got a great deal too.

The overall Xbox One experience is nothing short of amazing, the graphics are awesome, Kinect voice commands great, and SmartGlass also adds a lot to the mix. However, I have to admit that there is a process to get the AMAZING EXPERIENCE, but once everything is set up properly, you will not want to leave the couch.


Today I want to share my experience during the first day using an Xbox One. As such, if you are planning to get one, you can use this guide to know what to expect and you won’t get disappointed.

The unpacking

First is the unpacking, this is perhaps the most exciting moment when getting something new. Unlike previous versions of Xbox, if you bought an Xbox One bundled with games, you won’t get any physical discs, you’ll get a card with the product key to download the games. So if you’re excited unpacking, do not throw away anything just yet.

Once everything is unpacked, you need to find the right spot where the console will stay for a very long time. Now that you’re getting a new device, perhaps it’s the right time to do some dust cleaning before setting up your new Xbox One. Make sure there is enough airflow for the console to breathe and make sure to connect all the cables properly. (If you’re wondering, yes, Xbox One also comes with the HDMI cable).

The console is also a dust magnet, so be ready to clean it often.

Also the console comes with a new power brick that features an always-on fan. So make sure to not cover the air vents, and place the brick somewhere with good airflow to avoid overheating issues.

Quick Tip: While the power brick light is white everything is OK. If you see an amber (orange) light, everything is OK too. Amber light only means “Energy-saving power mode”.

Xbox One power lights meaning

The setup

The actual Xbox One setup takes a while, so if you don’t have at least two hours, don’t bother unpacking the console. Take your time and do things right.

Once you have chosen the right place, unpacked the console, and connected all the cables correctly, then it’s the time to power-on your Xbox One for the first time.

The first boot takes time, so don’t freak out.

Time for the big update. Because the console probably have been sitting on a warehouse for a long time, your brand new Xbox One is likely out of date, in which case you’ll have to download a big update. Of course, before you can do that, you need to connect the console to the network via Ethernet or wireless connection. Now it’s a good time to have ready your wireless network and password to connect the console online.

Xbox One Update

My update was around 1GB in size, so you can probably be looking at an update of the same size, and depending on your internet connection, the update could take a while.

After the update, it will also be a good time to set up your Kinect sensor, if you bought the console with it. The setup is straightforward, go to Settings, Kinect, setup, and follow the instructions.

When you connect your Xbox One to the TV, you’ll be using a HDMI cable, which carries the video and audio signal, and if you happen to have an audio receiver, those speakers will sound better, in which case it’s a good time to configure the audio too. (Simply go to Settings, Display & Sound, and then set your “Audio receiver”). For a complete guide to configure the audio settings.

Xbox One isn’t just your ordinary game console, it’s a full-featured entertainment center. And yes, you can hook your cable set-top box and watch TV right from your Xbox One. (The guide to Xbox One Live TV setup).

The games

It’s important to note that the game codes that come with your console have an expiration date. As such you should redeem them quickly. If the game code came in a card with a scan bar, you can simply face the scan code in front of Kinect and say: “Xbox: use code” and the rest is magic.

Then for those 25 characters game codes, it can be hard to redeem using the game controller. The easiest way to redeem those game codes is by signing-in to your Xbox account online on a computer, and from the “My Account” drop-down menu, select Redeem Code, then click Redeem, enter the 25 character game code, confirm, and you’ll see the game will start to download automatically in your console. To see this, simply go to “My games & apps” tile from the dashboard.

Redeem code

One interesting thing you’ll notice with the 500GB version of Xbox One, is that you only have 380GB of usable space for games and apps. As Microsoft takes a big chunk for the operating systems and on a 500GB, you actually always get about 465GB of usable space. And noting that each game uses about 20 to 50GB on size, you can’t really load too many games. So be prepared for that. (How to manage Xbox One storage).

Manage Storage Xbox One

Luckily, you can connect a USB external drive to store games and apps. The external storage must be USB 3.0 and it has to have at least 256GB on capacity.

Also, remember that Microsoft has free and discounted games for Xbox Live Gold members. So as soon as you know your way around the console, download the free games available for that month — And not, you cannot download Xbox games from previous months.

If you bought a few games on discs, you’ll need to install them into the console before you can play with them. And here is the thing, most games are continuously being updated, so chances are, you’ll need to download the update during the installation and this could take time depending on your internet connection. If I remember correctly, the update for Call of Duty: Ghosts was about 3.7GB, a really big update. So just be patient until everything is ready.

Now, this is what I found most irritating about Xbox One, you would think that after installing the game, you can put the disc away and forget about it, right? Well, you’re wrong, because you’ll need the game disc every time you want to play the game. I understand that Microsoft needs to check that you’re using a legit game, but I don’t think this is the solution. I really hope Microsoft changes this policy on a future update.

The problems and solutions

Although, your Xbox One is brand new, it doesn’t mean you will not have any problems — at least at the beginning –. In the first day of using the game console, I have trouble with Xbox One not recognizing the disc drive and Kinect will suddenly stop working.

But don’t panic, chances are it’s all just a hiccup. If Xbox One is not letting you insert a disc game or Kinect is just not responding, try turning off the console completely, unplug the power cable from the brick, wait about 3-5 minutes, and connect the power cable back and turn on your Xbox One. Hopefully, this will resolve any issues.

For more troubleshooting guides, check the Xbox One support website.

The apps

It’s not just about the games, it’s also about the apps. Even though Microsoft has published many Xbox One apps, the console doesn’t come with the company’s apps pre-installed. As such you’ll miss on a lot great experiences if you don’t get these apps and from other publishers. Below there a list with a bunch of apps you must install on your Xbox One:

  • Xbox Media Player: The Media Player is a must have app, because it allows you to play media files of all types, including MKV, h.264, AVI, MP3, PNG, JPEG, and a lot more. Also with the Xbox Media Player app, you can use it to change your dashboard background, stream media from a network folder and USB drive, and much more.
  • Netflix: If you have a subscription with the video streaming service, you can watch tons of movies and TV shows on a whole new experience with voice commands and SmartGlass — you can even control the TV or Audio receiver with SmartGlass, it’s amazing.
  • YouTube: There is no much I can say about this app, just get it.
  • Xbox Fitness: This is a must have app to get in shape by accessing a wide variety of fitness videos and you can optimize every workout with immediate feedback on your form, power and heart rate with the all new Kinect, featuring Muscle Mapping, Power Gauge, and Pulse. This is a paid service, but Microsoft has announced that will keep free the service through 2015 — and free is good.
  • Skype: Like YouTube, no much I can say about this app, you need video chat; Skype is the way to go.
  • Twitch: For those unfamiliar, Twitch is an online service that allows gamers to live stream their gameplay to the world. The service not only offers live stream video of games, but also live chat during the broadcast. I find this service very useful to learn about new games and it helps me to decide whether to buy certain games I’m not sure about.
  • OneDrive: This is another good app; you should definitely get to view your photo and videos stored in the cloud store service.
  • Blu-ray: If you’re planning to watch HD movies from a disc, the Blu-ray app must be installed in the console, as it seems Microsoft can’t ship the codec to play this kind of disc format.

Now that you went through this guide and you’re all set up, you’re ready for an amazing gaming experience.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].