Making Xbox One Web Browsing More Practical
When I first found out that Xbox One was going to include a full-blown copy of Internet Explorer, I was thrilled. Often, my wife and I sit in the living room late at night watching YouTube videos or browsing the web trying to research our next adventure to some far-off place. Normally, we use a laptop or a tablet, but the idea of doing it on a large screen intrigued me. In my mind, using the Xbox for web surfing would be a great way to reduce eyestrain, while also eliminating the constant problem of my cat trying to take a nap on the keyboard while we surf the web.
I have to admit that when I launched Internet Explorer on my Xbox One for the first time, the experience was disappointing. The video resolution really wasn’t very good, and it was a pain to enter long URLs or to fill out web forms using an Xbox controller. Thankfully, I have found a few workarounds that have made the experience better. I want to share with you some of my tips and tricks for making web browsing on the Xbox One more practical.
The Video Resolution Problem
The first problem that I had to address was the video resolution problem. After all, there really wasn’t much point in using the Xbox One as a web browser if the resolution was so poor that the screen was difficult to read. Thankfully, this ended up being a relatively easy problem to fix.
My display resolution ended up being the result of using an older TV. My TV supported 1080i resolution, but not 1080P. Xbox One doesn’t support 1080i. Because Xbox One could tell that my television wasn’t capable of displaying 1080P resolution, it defaulted to using 720P. My solution was obviously to use a different TV, but I still had to manually adjust the display resolution.
To check your display resolution, go to the Xbox Home screen and click Settings. Next, click Display and Sound. The Display and Sound screen includes settings for adjusting your display resolution.
Another thing that inhibited the practicality of browsing the web through the Xbox One was that entering URLs through an Xbox controller was a tedious process. Fortunately, Xbox Kinect can help with that to some degree.
As you probably already know, Kinect is designed to accept voice commands. There are two main commands that you can use with Internet Explorer.
The first of these commands is “Browse To.” Simply say this command and then save the name of the website that you want to go to. This command tends to work best when you are going to a well-known website such as Google or Amazon.com. Kinect is probably going to have trouble understanding less common URLs.
The other voice command that you can use is “Xbox Bing.” Simply say this command, followed by the phrase that you want to search on, and Xbox One launches Bing and searches for your query. Again however, you have to experiment with this technique because accuracy might be a problem when it comes to performing less common searches by voice. More important, the Xbox Bing command searches only for movies, music, and games. It is not a generalized web search. For that you must manually visit a search engine site.
The Missing Keyboard
Using voice commands can help make web browsing easier in certain situations, but it doesn’t work for everything. There are some URLs that you just can’t verbalize in a way that Kinect can understand. Furthermore, you can’t use voice commands to do things like update your Facebook status, post a comment on a video, or fill out a web form. Fortunately, you do not have to use the Xbox controller to hunt and peck your way through long strings of text.
A better alternative is to use Xbox Smart Glass. Smart Class has been around since the days of Xbox 360, but it has gotten a bit of a makeover with the Xbox One. (Just make sure to use the Xbox One version of the app.) In case you are not familiar with Smart Glass, it is an app that you run on your laptop or mobile device. The Smart Glass app allows your device to act as a second screen for Xbox One.
Smart Glass’s actual functionality varies depending upon what it is that you’re doing. For Internet Explorer, however, smart glass turns your mobile device into a keyboard. The keystrokes made on your mobile device instantly appear onscreen on the Xbox One.
Your mobile device doesn’t automatically turn into a keyboard when you open Internet Explorer. To use your device as a keyboard, open Smart Glass on your mobile device and sign in if necessary. Next, launch Internet Explorer on your Xbox One.
At this point, Smart Glass should display the Xbox One home screen. Internet Explorer should appear in the Recent tile. If you look closely at this tile, you can notice a remote control icon in the lower-right corner of the tile. Tap this icon. An Internet Explorer dialog box now appears. This dialog box provides three options: Remote, Detach, and Pin. Tap the Remote option. You are all set to go with using your mobile device as a remote keyboard.
Incidentally, the Xbox One Web browser hides the Internet Explorer address bar whenever possible. To reveal the address bar (so that you can type a URL), you must press the View button on the Xbox One controller or the View icon on your Smart Glass-enabled device.
By correcting the display resolution and by using a mobile device as a wireless keyboard, it is actually practical to use Xbox One for casual web surfing. My experience has been that Xbox One renders Web pages just as quickly and accurately as my PC does.