November 10, 2010

Choosing and Setting up XBox Kinect

So you're thinking about getting an Xbox Kinect, and you're not sure exactly what you need?  Or you just got one and you want a few quick tips.  Here's some thoughts to get you started.

There are two flavours of Xbox Kinect.  If you already have an Xbox 360, you can just get the Kinect for Xbox 360.  This has the sensor, software, and adapter to plug it into the USB port of any Xbox 360.  If you don't have an Xbox, there are two bundles available with the Xbox and Kinect.  The only difference is the size of the hard drive (4 Gb or 250 Gb).  Given where media is going (Zune, Netflix, and others offering streaming and download movies and TV shows) you probably want to get the 250 Gb model, even if you're not a big gamer.  Be aware that if you get the bundle, it doesn't come with the adapter for older Xboxes, so you can only use it on the new models.

Once you get everything out, clear some space for your play area.  Kinect likes 6-10 feet of space in front of it, so you'll need to move coffee tables and such to have a good play area.  When you fire everything up it takes you through an easy step by step of calibrating and configuring everything.

When you're setting things up, you may have your Xbox too far away from the Kinect for the cord to reach.  You can use a USB extender, depending on whether you get the standalone Kinect or the full package with Xbox. The Kinect has a non-standard connector that plugs directly into the new Xbox. You don't get an adapter for the older 360s unless you buy the standalone Kinect. With that there is a wall plug to power the Kinect, and an adapter to allow it to plug into the USB on the 360. I'm assuming you can put an extension after the adapter, and the power is still nice and close to the Kinect, so it should all work fine.

Once you're playing the games you'll quickly notice that Kinect takes pictures as you're playing.  It took me a while to figure out how to get those pictures off the Kinect.  Here's what you need to do.

  1. You need an Xbox Live account to be able to share your pictures
  2. You'll have to be playing your game in your Live account
  3. Once you have some pictures you'd like to share, you have to go into the game to share them.  Each game is different, but in the Kinect Adventures game that comes with Kinect, you go into the Show Off and Share option from the main menu
  4. Once there, choose Photos
  5. Select the Upload option at the bottom, and choose the photos you'd like to upload
  6. Go to your computer, fire up a browser, and go to https://kinectshare.com/
  7. Sign in with the Windows Live ID associated with your Xbox LIVE gamer tag
  8. Choose the game and review the pictures.  You can download, print, or share them directly to Facebook from Kinect Share
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