Recently Microsoft’s Xbox One caught the ire of US-based environmental advocacy group, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The Council recently offered a report that singled out the Xbox One as being among the top energy offenders with the systems Instant-on feature.
The Xbox One was designed to be an all-in-one entertainment device and in doing so, the Instant-on feature was essential to that reality. So the system was configured out-of-the-box with Instant-on set as default. However, after hearing the criticism from the NRDC, Microsoft updated the Xbox One’s setup process to inform users of the benefits and consequences of the Instant-on and the new Energy Saver Mode for consumers. After the change, users are met with an activation window that offers the ability to switch on or off Instant-on.
Cased closed, right? Wrong. Senior Scientist at NRDC, Noah Horowitz, is again criticizing Microsoft regarding Instant-On/Energy Saving. Noah’s most recent complaint is about the language and details used in the setup process for the feature.
“With this design, most users are likely to select the Instant-on mode because of the negative language such as “Slower start-up time” and “Get interrupted for updates” used to describe the Energy-saving mode,” argues Noah. It would also like Microsoft to make a clearer distinction between the watt usage between the two modes. With 1 watt for Energy-saving mode and 12.5 watts for Instant-On, Noah believes users would be more likely to think twice about enabling Instant-on.
Noah is also concerned about a console that uses 12.4 watts of energy 24/7 for what he perceives as the seldom benefit of installing updates.
“These devices receive notifications that updates are available for downloading, often in the background while the device is in use. Microsoft’s competitor Nintendo provides an elegant and effective solution whereby its Wii U game console automatically wakes for a few seconds hourly to check for updates. If an update exists, it downloads and installs it and then goes back to sleep at less than 1 watt. This results in a trivial amount of energy spent for background updates compared to Microsoft’s current energy-guzzling approach,” he writes on the Switchboard NRDC blog.
Noah is not all criticism though; he does offer up his suggestions as to what Microsoft and the Xbox One team can do to address the environment and consumer pocketbooks.
Bring down the standby power use to 1 watt with quick resume, putting it on a par with laptops, the Nintendo Wii U game console, cell phones and tablets that have implemented such solutions and have fast resume times. (Today, the Xbox One takes up to 10 seconds to resume with Instant-on and around 45 seconds more when the Energy-Saving option is selected.) We recognize this will require software and hardware changes and take longer than the simple settings and user interface changes recommended above.
The Xbox One and the team behind it are still in the early years of the consoles development. If the Xbox 360 is any indication as to what can be achieved with resources, time and talented engineers, we can expect the Xbox One team will continue to address the NRDC concerns as best they can. With the total watt output potentially being $33 to $75 over the course of five years, while most games cost that much already, the real question is whether or not Xbox One owners care? Do you? Let us know in the comments below.