Over the weekend, Microsoft revealed the latest demo for their next-gen accessory, the IllumiRoom, which is pretty much a projector you put on your coffee table that turns your living room into a screen, giving you panoramic vision for your gaming and movie watching. On paper, this sounds awesome, right?
Sadly, it isn't. All Microsoft has managed to do is ruin your video games so hard that it is nearly impossible to be in the same room with them as you play them.
#4. It Only Really Works at Night
In both their latest demonstration video and the previous one, the first thing you notice is that the IllumiRoom's capabilities are being showcased in a pitch-dark room. Or at least that's the first thing you should notice if you're a well-adjusted human being.
Which is admittedly not the Xbox's target demographic.
You can't attain that kind of darkness unless you've draped the room with blackout curtains, it's the middle of the night, or you live in a world where the sun has died. And that's the way it has to be, because the IllumiRoom is a projector, and anyone who's ever been to a movie theater should know how useless projectors become when there's even a single light on in the room. This is a product that can literally only be used for half the day, specifically during the half that is primarily reserved for sleeping.
#3. You Can't See Anything Anyway
So say you do end up buying this, because you're a person who makes terrible decisions, and then you plug in your favorite game. Behold your reward:
The first time we looked at this picture, we didn't realize that the bullshit plastered all over the wall had anything to do with the game. When we finally did, we thought the plant was an enemy.
The point of the IllumiRoom is to extend your field of vision, but the difference between a panoramic screen and the IllumiRoom is painfully obvious -- your living room is not made for things to be projected over it. No room in any house is both flat and monochromatic. The end result is a bunch of blurry colors stretched across your furniture.
Another demo shows the IllumiRoom projecting a video instead of a game, resulting in a schizophrenic nightmare we're amazed Microsoft thought was good enough to include in their promotional footage:
"... so we figured why not embrace epilepsy?"
Welcome to the future, where 60 percent of your television screen is bouncing off of uneven surfaces, leaving you free to try and guess what the hell is going on in whatever movie you're watching. Literally nothing about this is appealing.
#2. The Majority of Gamers Cannot Use It Properly
Most console gamers are college-aged, a bit older or a bit younger, probably living in their own dorm rooms or apartments -- tiny dwellings where all of their worldly possessions are crammed together in a chaotic jumble of underemployed desperation. Now look at the room depicted in the IllumiRoom demo videos:
Not one piece of underwear ANYWHERE.
A nice house with a cavernous living room. And that's not just because they're trying to make the video look good -- that's because, just like Microsoft's previous effort, Kinect, the IllumiRoom probably functions horribly when you try to use it in a cramped space. Odds are that unless you're using this thing in Wayne Manor, all you're going to get is a bunch of smudged flashing lights, like somebody threw up on a disco ball.
#1. It Makes the Room Completely Unusable for Anyone Else
All right, so let's say you have a big living room with thick curtains and you don't mind spending your daylight hours swallowed by total darkness so you can struggle to play your favorite game while it gets horribly distorted across your IKEA shelves and entertainment center. Unless you live alone (which, if you own a house, is statistically unlikely), that entire room is now totally unusable for anyone else. Nobody can even walk through it while you're in there slaying dragons or whatever without passing in front of the projector and ruining the already tenuous illusion. Any of the drawers or tables or chairs currently bathed in IllumiRoom's glow are essentially off-limits. Also, and we cannot stress this enough, the room has to be shrouded in more darkness than a collapsed mine shaft, so nobody can even sit in the room and read a book while you're playing.
At 0:25 in the video, Microsoft attempts to make a case for how well the projector functions even when you aren't playing a game. It can make your room look like a cartoon:
Or a headache-inducing blur chamber:
Or a snowy evening:
Or an ugly racquetball court:
Nobody is going to sit in the dark with their Xbox on and not play a video game. Nor is anyone going to want to sit in the dark and watch you not play a video game. You might as well board up the room or tell your family and/or housemates to find somewhere else to live.