21 Lessons Learnt in the Kitchen

The lessons you learn in the kitchen can be lifelong, just ask Paul Sorgule. The chef and writer, who has spent nearly five decades working in professional kitchens, is better placed than many to reflect on their invaluable teachings.

In fact, he’s listed the 21 most important lessons he’s learnt in the kitchen in a new blog post, which we’re sharing with you below.

Don’t forget to check out more of his fantastic writing over on the Harvest America Ventures blog.

21 lessons learnt in the kitchen

1. CIVILITY and RESPECT ABOVE ALL ELSE

Respecting employees, fellow workers, and customers is paramount to building a cohesive, productive team. Failure to do so is the demise of many restaurants. Hire for civility above all else.

2. THE IMPORTANCE of ORDER

Kitchens only function well when order is the predominant rule of thumb. How cooks dress, organise their stations, follow standard cooking methods, handle their tools, follow directives, and even plate their food is absolutely essential in a well run operation.

3. WE VS. ME

It is never about the individual when a kitchen is charged with serving the public and helping to run a successful business. Every restaurant worthy of notice and respect operates as a unified team with common goals.

4. FEAR NEVER MOTIVATES

The old Machiavellian style of management through fear no longer has a place (if it ever really did) in an organisation. Fear breeds dissent and instability, places individuals in a position to look out for themselves rather than the team, and sets the stage for missteps. Chefs need to inspire and set the example for collaboration rather than survival. Angst separates – it never unifies.

5. PLAN FIRST

Thinking things through, anticipating what might go wrong, leaving no stone unturned, and building action scenarios where the unexpected suddenly becomes expected allows the ship to sail on stable waters and curve balls to meet the anxious batter. Take the time to think things through and plan better.

6. RHETORIC is DANGEROUS

The chatter of opinion at the expense of others can drive a huge wedge between the individuals on a team. This wedge divides a kitchen into ‘us and them’ and will always lead to problems. Put the rhetoric aside and insist on the same among your team members.

7. YOU NEED to DEPEND on OTHERS

Chefs, in particular, who feel that the kitchen revolves around them, are missing the real meaning of team. Chefs need to hire civil individuals, train them well, respect them for their abilities, treat them as equals, support their efforts with the right resources, correct them when they are wrong and compliment them when they are right, and allow everyone to realise how important they are to the success of a kitchens mission.

8. WORDS are IMPORTANT

The right words, crafted to fit the right moment, established as a support mechanism or positive action foundation can help to inspire others to exceed expectations. The wrong words will set the stage for disaster. Words are powerful – choose them wisely.

9. COMMUNICATION is KEY

Let people know. Let them know what is going on, what their role might be, what is not going well and how to correct it, and engage them in the operation as if they really are essential – because they are. 

10. WHEN it COMES DOWN to it – WE are ALL THE SAME

One of the most important things that the kitchen taught me is that regardless of views or beliefs, in spite of orientation or cultural backgrounds, putting aside age, gender, size, and colour – everyone in the kitchen is equal. We are all people hoping to do a good job, in love with cooking, and appreciative of the opportunity to learn something from each other. Chefs need to be the example of this inclusive approach.

11. RESPECT MOTHER NATURE

Whenever I felt, as a chef, that I was in control – Mother Nature would demonstrate her superiority. Chefs can control staffing, equipment, ingredients, cooking process, and even the financial operation of the kitchen, but when Mother Nature chooses to throw in a storm, flood, snow, bitter cold, or an extended heat wave – we are all begging for her mercy.

12. TRUST is EARNED

At the core of a successful relationship between employees, ownership, the chef, and the guest is a level of trust. When any stakeholder loses the ability to trust another then all is lost. The irony of trust is that it is never a one shot deal. Trust must be earned every moment of every day. It only takes a moment to lose all that is gained in this regard.

13. PAY ATTENTION

Watch what is going on – know what is going on and understand how to address challenges when they arise. Chefs need to pay attention to the mood of employees and the cause of fluctuations in their mood, the daily costs associated with operation, waste and spoilage, changes in customer habits, the every day quality of ingredients passing through the receiving door, and the trends that may have a short or long term impact on how the restaurant functions.

14. TAKE CARE of YOUR TOOLS

Tools in the kitchen allow a cook to be efficient and successful. Never lose sight of how important it is to care for your own and respect the tools of others. This is an individual and a group effort.

15. EXCELLENCE is a HABIT

If excellence is the goal of the kitchen than excellence must be the rule, not the exception. Excellence in how the dishes are washed and stored is as important as excellence in how a cook follows a procedure, how taste and flavour are addressed, and how the customer is served. Peel the carrot with an attitude of excellence and the stew will draw applause.

16. WHAT YOU DO as a COOK REALLY MATTERS

Ours is far more than a job. Cooking is an opportunity to stimulate all of the senses, to convert a bad day into a joyous one, to bring sunshine to all involved, and to celebrate the skill and pride of the cook who arranged ingredients on the plate. Cooking matters.

17. LISTEN MORE – TALK LESS

When people know that you listen, they understand that you care. When you are open to others ideas, concerns, and observations then that freedom will unify a team and build a positive brand for the restaurant and the chef.

18. LEAD, FOLLOW, or GET OUT of the WAY

The most sinful act in the kitchen is apathy. Apathy will cause the operation to stumble and one apathetic player will bring even the most positive, progressive, goal oriented kitchen team to its knees. Lead, follow or move on.

19. OPTIMISM is MORE FUN than PESSIMISM

The old cup half full example is always pertinent. Pessimism is a drag on the culture of a kitchen just as it is with a sporting team, the military, or any other business intent on winning. Weed out pessimism and reinforce optimism.

20. KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW

Don’t pretend – if it is beyond your current ability or base of knowledge then accept it, learn how to improve, or hire reinforcements with the skills to fill in the gaps.

21. EVERY DAY is an OPPORTUNITY to LEARN

A day spent without learning something, regardless of how large or small, is a wasted day. Start every day with the question: ‘What can I learn today’ and end each day with an assessment: ‘What have I learned that can be added to my bag of tricks?’

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Bangkok Street Food Chef Wants to Return Michelin Star

Jay Fai, the septegenarian who’s revered street food spot Raan Jay Fai made headlines when it was awarded a Michelin star in the inaugural Guide to Bangkok, says she wishes she could “give the star back already.”

Speaking to Eater, Fai, real name Supinya Junsuta, said that since the news of the star was announced, “Many people come just to see and take pictures and not necessarily to eat.” People presumably want to get snaps of Fai in action, cooking in her own unique style complete with ski goggles and the odd hairdryer to fan the flames under her spitting woks.

However, there is plenty of demand for Fai’s famous crab omelettes and spicy noodle dishes, though it has always been one of the most expensive street food spots in the city, with the former costing around $25. Lines outside the restaurant in the city’s old town can stretch up to two hours. Fai’s daughter, Varisa Junsuta, says her mother, who works 11 hours day, is “getting tired more easily” as a result of all the extra attention.

She is the latest in a line of chefs wanting to relinquish their Michelin stars. Last year, three-Michelin-star chef Sebastian Bras wrote to Michelin asking not be included in the next Guide, as he felt the pressure of maintaining Michelin standards was stifling his restaurant’s creativity, while more recently another French chef, Jérôme Brochot, requested to return his restaurant’s star because he couldn’t afford the costs of maintaining a Michelin-starred restaurant.

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Stakeholders Condemn Nigerian Government Over Return Of Emirates To Abuja, Increased Frequencies To Lagos

Players in the Nigerian aviation industry have expressed concern over the return of the Middle East carrier, Emirates, to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja from its base in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

 

The airline is also set to increase its flight frequencies to Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos from one daily to twice a day, amounting to 14 frequencies per week.

The UAE-based carrier had suspended flights to Abuja in October 2016 in the wake of the Nigerian economic recession.

Speaking to our correspondent, General Secretary Olayinka Abioye of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) expressed worry over the dominance of foreign airlines in Nigerian routes.

Mr. Abioye explained that the designation of multiple routes to foreign carriers was affecting the progress of the local operators and therefore urged the government to change that policy in favor of Nigerian operators.

He said that rather than open all the major airports to international carriers, the government should have made the Lagos airport a hub where foreign carriers disembark their passengers while local airlines airlift them to their final destinations, but decried that the reverse was the case.

“My fear is the domination of foreign airlines even within the domestic routes. We are thinking that if the government is up and doing, Lagos will remain a hub while all passengers will disembark in Lagos and local airlines distribute them to various airports across the country.

“That would have been better for us. But, the operations of the local airlines are nothing to write home about with this policy of the government,” Mr. Abioye said.

John Ojikutu, the former Commandant of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, similarly decried that most of the foreign carriers have turned Nigeria into their domestic operations.

He explained that virtually all the foreign airlines coming into Nigeria operate into at least two points in Nigeria, stressing that Ethiopian Airlines alone flies into five points in Nigeria and numerous others.

Mr. Ojikutu decried that while Nigeria was busy opening up its airports to various foreign airlines, their counterparts elsewhere were restricting Nigerian carriers from flying into airports of their choice.

“Now, you have five international airports which foreign carriers are flying into. They have more or less taken over your domestic markets. If you have an Ethiopian Airlines that is flying into five of your airports, what has it done?

“In those days, when it landed your Enugu passengers in Lagos Airport, you now take them to Enugu. If it dropped your Kano, Kaduna and other cities’ passengers in Abuja, your own airline will go and pick them and drop them in their various cities. Now, what has it done? It has taken over your domestic markets. Those are the consequences and the danger in giving multiple landings to foreign airlines when you don’t have reciprocity,” he told SaharaReporters.

Olumide Ohunayo, the Director of Research at Zenith Travels, attributed the sordid situation to inconsistencies in the Nigerian government’s policies.

He bemoaned that in spite of the kick against the multiple entries policies by a majority of players in the sector, most state governments are enticing foreign carriers into their states.

Mr. Ohunayo expressed that with such a policy, the government was indirectly killing the domestic carriers and urged the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika to reverse the “unfriendly” policy.

“When you look at a country whereby you are not united in policy, industry and the growth of the sector, then, you begin to enter some of these little crises at the peril of the domestic carriers.

“Here we are saying that we don’t want multiple entries for foreign carriers, yet, some governors want every foreign carrier to operate into their states. With this, there is no way the domestic airlines will grow. We are killing our own carriers with our attitude.”

It would be recalled that Emirates had on Friday disclosed plans to return to the Abuja airport by December 15, adding that it would increase its weekly frequencies to Lagos from seven to 14.

The airline had suspended flight operations to Abuja in October 2016 while it reduced its weekly frequencies to Lagos by 50 percent in June 2016.

At least 11 foreign carriers are currently operating an  additional 30 frequencies to Nigeria weekly and are operating into different airports across the country.

Airlines with extra frequencies into Nigeria are British Airways, seven; Virgin Atlantic, seven; Air France, seven; Ethiopian Airlines, 14; Kenya Airways, three; Lufthansa, seven; Egyptair, seven; Air Cote D’Ivoire, seven; Africa World Airlines, three; Turkish Airlines, three; and Asky Airlines with another three extra frequencies to the Abuja airport.


The best Xbox One X games: what to play on the world’s most powerful console

What are its enhancements?

4K, HDR, 60FPS

We’ve had a chance to play Rise of the Tomb Raider at a recent preview event where we came away impressed by the work-in-progress patch.

The final version will support three modes, so you can tailor what exactly you want the console to prioritise with the game. High frame-rate has the game run at 1080p with enhanced textures, and upscaling to reach 4K. This mode is probably the worst looking of the three, but comes closest to maintaining a locked 60fps framerate.

Native 4K mode, as the name suggests, prioritises rendering a full 4K’s worth of pixels, even if this involves bigger hits to framerate, which can make the game judder in its more intense scenes, even though the game is targeting a more modest 30fps. However, since the version that’s been played so far isn’t final these performance problems may not be present in the final version of the patch.

Finally, the ‘Enriched 4K’ mode strikes a nice balance between the two. It features a more advanced form of upscaling, so even though it’s not native 4K, it’s close enough that it still looks decent.

In all three modes, the implementation of HDR was a treat. Light peeking into each tomb we explored had a fantastic brightness to it, while water had a fantastic level of glimmer and shine.

We won’t know for sure how well the game handles native 4K until the final version of the patch is released, but the amount of customizability on offer suggests there might just be something for everyone.

Amazon Echo 2 review

The first-gen Amazon Echo was the first smart speaker available in the UK, but a year on the choice is much broader. Google now has a range of Home speakers which covers just about all budgets (and matches the Echo Dot at £49) while Apple is about to launch the high-end HomePod.

The Echo 2 is essentially a shrunk-down version of the original with softer, less industrial styling at a lower price. It has interchangeable shells which allow you to change your mind about its colour or finish: there are fabric, metal-effect and wooden options. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s exactly what you can do with the Google Home.

What is the price of the Echo 2?

The original (now discontinued) cost £149.99, so £89.99 for the second-generation model seems like a very good deal indeed. You can buy an Echo 2 from Amazon, of course.

There are differences, and not all of them good, which we’ll get into in a moment.

Don’t forget there are other Echos to choose between, including the new Echo Plus (£139.99) and Echo Show (£199.99).

How is the Echo 2 different from the original?

Although similar in features, the second-gen Echo has been completely redesigned. It’s still a cylinder – a little bigger than a pint glass – but it’s a much nicer-looking gadget to put on a bedside table or shelf.

Gone is the volume ring at the top, replaced by volume buttons, a la Echo Dot. There are seven little holes at the top for the array of microphones, plus a mic-mute button and an action button, which can be used for silencing alarms among other things.

The mics have been improved for better voice recognition, and they work better when music is playing at higher volumes. Amazon says they’re better at beamforming (working out where your voice is coming from) and noise cancelling, to better hear what you’re saying when there’s other noise in the room.

Amazon Echo 2 review

Speakers are also new: there’s a 2.5in woofer as before, but a new, smaller tweeter. You can see these when you pop the shell off, a simple process of grasping the body and pushing in the centre underneath.

The power connector is on the side rather than underneath, but a bigger change is the addition of a 3.5mm minijack aux input. This means you can plug in an audio device which doesn’t have Bluetooth, for example.

Amazon Echo 2 review

The Echo 2 still works as a Bluetooth speaker like the original, too.

Alexa’s capabilities have improved somewhat since last year, and the Echo 2 benefits from these as well as all the features added throughout the year, such as multi-room audio and voice calling and messaging.

What this means is that the Echo 2 is no more or less capable than the original – or the £49.99 Echo Dot. They can all do the same things.

Other Echo models have extra features and you can read about them in our comparison of every Amazon Echo.

Performance

The good news first: the microphones do seem to work better than on the original Echo and Echo Dot, specifically when there are other people talking or the Echo 2 is already playing music loudly.

I couldn’t really notice any difference in how well it recognised the ‘Alexa’ wake word, although it could be that there are less ‘false positives’. First-gen devices often respond when they hear something that sounds like Alexa, but isn’t.

The bad news is that rather than improved sound quality as Amazon promises, it’s actually a step down. I use the first-gen Echo every day, so it was immediately obvious that the new model sounded worse.

The overall effect is that it’s not nearly as crisp (perhaps due to that smaller tweeter) and lacks the bass of the original.

It’s great if you’re listening to a podcast or your Flash Briefing, but when you start streaming music from your phone, Spotify or Amazon Music, the differences are all too obvious.

Relatively simple tracks, such as Diana Krall’s Peel me a grape, sound ok, although lacking in bass, but in much busier songs – Poets of the Fall’s Dreaming Wide Awake, say – instruments sound as though they’re tripping over each other, and vocals aren’t as defined.

Anything with a rhythmic bass kick – like trance and house music – lacks punch, which is kind of disappointing given that a £40 Bluetooth speaker such as the Aukey Eclipse can produce a much more rounded sound with more bass.

Blizzard’s Jeremy Feasel on how ‘Battle for Azeroth’ puts war back in ‘Warcraft’

The next World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth, is all about the core conflict of the Warcraft universe. Senior game designer Jeremy Feasel tells us how the story, and new features like Warfronts, will make it more focused.

The post Blizzard’s Jeremy Feasel on how ‘Battle for Azeroth’ puts war back in ‘Warcraft’ appeared first on Digital Trends.

The best Argos Black Friday deals 2017

 

Look out – another discount-packed Black Friday is on the horizon, which means you’re going to need to know where the best deals are to be had. We’ve got your back with this list of the most tempting offers from Argos this year, so you can get a head start over all those other shoppers.

Argos always goes all-in for Black Friday, which we like, and it looks like this year’s extravaganza isn’t going to be any different. Of course Argos has a bewildering number of categories and departments to sift through, but we’re going to focus on all the best tech and gadget deals you can pick up, as well as a few extra surprises.

Save yourself some frantic clicking and scrolling by browsing through the selections below, which we’ll update before, during and after Black Friday 2017. If there’s an electronics deal that you need to know about, then you’re going to find it here – whether it’s a cut-price gaming console or a significant saving on a smartphone.

Don’t waste any more time reading this introduction – check out the best of Argos Black Friday 2017 below!

Argos Black Friday deals

To get you more in the mood for Black Friday 2017 here are some of the best deals that Argos announced during the shopping craziness that was Black Friday 2016.

Gaming Black Friday deals – Black Friday is usually the perfect time to pick up that games console you’ve had your eye on, and Argos made the purchase of a PS4 Slim that little bit more appealing by reducing its Call of Duty Infinite Warfare bundle down to £199.99.

More recently the price of a limited edition gold PS4 Slim, with a 500GB hard drive, was down to £249.99 – so you can see that if gaming is what you’re interested in, Argos is often the best place to go.

TV Black Friday deals – Argos usually comes up with the goods when it comes to deals on TVs, and Black Friday 2016 was no different, with the 43-inch LG 43LH570V Full HD Smart LED TV (complete with USB recording and playback capabilities) down to £295 on the day.

Gadgets Black Friday deals – as we’ve mentioned, one of the reasons we pay special attention to Argos on Black Friday is because it has so many gadgets on offer, including the full-sized Amazon Echo, which last year could be yours for the bargain price of £119.99.

Or what about £140 off the Dyson Light Ball Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner, another deal we’ve spotted at Argos lately? It went down to just £199.99.

Smartphone Black Friday deals – Black Friday is also the perfect time to get that smartphone upgrade you’ve been promising yourself as there are so many decent deals around, such as £50 off the LG G4 at Argos last year, putting the price down to just £249.95.

Another great smartphone deal we’ve seen on Argos recently is a SIM-free Sony Xperia E5, yours for a mere £129.95.

Tablet Black Friday deals – if you were more interested in tablets than smartphones during Black Friday 2016, then Argos had you covered in this department too. The 32GB Wi-Fi iPad Air 2, for example, could be picked up for a mere £209 in silver or space grey.

Another Argos offer that caught out eye recently was the £30 you could get off the Samsung Tab S2, an 8-inch slate with 32GB of storage, yours for £299 – that’s £30 off the regular RRP.

Audio Black Friday deals – audiophiles really were spoilt for choice at Argos during Black Friday 2016, with a pile of offers available. One of the best was the Bose SoundSport audio-only in-ear headphones on offer at half price, just £39.99 of your hard-earned cash.

More recently the Google Home speaker has been knocked down to £99, which is £30 off the regular retail price.

Toy Black Friday deals – Argos is also a great choice for toys of all descriptions. One of the Black Friday deals that particularly caught our eye last year was the Disney Star Wars AT-AT U Command Figure for only £79.99, offering plenty of Star Wars fun for fans of all ages.

As well as that we’ve spotted Argos’ lowest prices ever on the colourful Furby Connect dolls, down to £34.99 online recently.

Argos on Black Friday 2017: what you need to know

The speedy ordering system, the wealth of categories, and the option to pick up your goods – all the stuff you’re used to from Argos – still apply on Black Friday, so it’s worth making it a priority for your holiday shopping.

You can do some preparation before Black Friday 2017 by making sure you already have an Argos account, so you’re all set to go when the big day arrives. Signing up for email updates is another way of getting to the best deals first, plus you have the option to spread the cost of purchases with an Argos Card (more details on the Argos website).

Deals go live right on the stroke of midnight as Thursday night turns into Friday morning – Argos says the quietest time on its website on Black Friday 2016 was from 3am to 4am, so if you want to beat everyone else to the bargains, you might consider a very early start. In stores, meanwhile, Argos says it’ll be putting on extra staff to give you a hand in your bargain hunt.

The top 5 Argos Black Friday deals last year

1. HP 15-ay020na laptop bundle

Black Friday is always a good opportunity to pick up a cheap laptop: last year Argos was selling the HP 15-ay020na laptop with a bag, mouse and a copy of McAfee for just £269.99.

2. Amazon Fire tablet

The Amazon Fire tablets are some of the best value slates around, especially on Black Friday – last year you could pick up an Amazon Fire 7 tablet with Alexa for only £29.99.

3. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

The S6 Edge still holds up pretty well against the flagship smartphones of 2017, and last Black Friday at Argos the price of one of these handsets was discounted down to £419.95.

4. Sony KD55XD7005 4K TV

4K TVs have never been cheaper – for just £769 you could have bagged a Sony KD55XD7005 55-inch model running Android TV last year, more than £200 off the model’s original price.

5. The Force Awakens Interactive Darth Vader

Star Wars fans were spoilt last Black Friday at Argos, with this interactive Darth Vader toy figure reduced from £119.99 to just £24.99, a bargain whatever side of the Force you’re on.

Stay fit without leaving the house, with this creative workout gear

 

Can’t get to the gym? Fitness pros have come up with effective and transportable at-home exercise equipment that will counter just about every excuse.

Although Erika Rayman was an avid runner, it wasn’t until she regularly performed a series of intense squats with a trainer that she noticed a difference in her body — specifically her posterior. So she set out to develop a device that would help people nail the perfect squat.

“I learned so much about form working out with a trainer, and wanted to make that available to anyone of any level,” she said. (The maximum user weight on the device is 215 pounds.)

Earlier this year, she launched the DB Method, which works out the lower body; sit on the tilted seat built onto a resistance system, grab the handrails and start squatting.

“It’s a high-intensity, low-impact workout,” Rayman said of the tool, which can be assembled in about 15 minutes. It collapses to fold under a bed or to stack against a wall.

The DB Method, $189; thedbmethod.com

Unable to work out after hip surgery, Gorgi Nikkaran developed Gravocore, a portable pulley-and-harness system designed for all ages and levels that can be slung over a door, onto a tree or attached to a bar or pole.

“I’d been fit all my life, but there were many exercises I couldn’t do after my surgery, and I needed to find another way to get back in shape,” Nikkaran said.

Gravocore works by exercising muscles without compromising the joints, helping to burn fat and build muscle. The regimens used in conjunction with the system work the core, abs, legs and — depending on a user’s fitness goals — may replace a gym full of equipment.

“It’s about what you want out of your workout,” Nikkaran said. “Some people want to be physically stronger. Others want a visual transformation.”

Gravocore, $349; gravocore.com

In designing the ActivMotion Bar, Derek Mikulski’s aim was to “put resistance that’s active or alive into someone’s hands.”

“It will make them use their brains more, as opposed to using static — or dead — weight,” he says of the pole, which enhances squats, lunges and crunches and takes the place of hand weights or a medicine ball.

The ball bearings inside the pole shift when it is held, forcing users to focus on keeping it stable. In addition to encouraging concentration during a workout, more muscles are activated, said Mikulski.

The poles are available in a variety of weights, starting at 3 pounds. Purchases include a digital workout regimen.

ActivMotion Bar, $99 and up, activmotionbar.com

The Pilates Wheel is specifically for those who want to obtain the long, lean look synonymous with the form of exercise but find the cost of classes prohibitive.

Pilates instructor Kristin Anderson and trainer Brian Abercrombie earlier this year launched the wheel, which takes the fundamentals of bulky and expensive Pilates equipment like the Reformer and distills them into a compact, at-home product.

“The machines provide resistance, moving from the core, stabilizing muscles,” Anderson said. “When you strip away the metal parts and pieces, those are the main Pilates principles.”

Abercrombie said the device — essentially, wheels attached to each end of a rod, with resistance bands, handles and foot loops — is for strength, stretching and cardio and can be used by those who have never taken a Pilates class. The duo runs classes on Facebook Live several times a week.

The Pilates Wheel, starting at $199, which includes instructional DVDs and an eating plan; thepilateswheel.com

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Xbox One X review

Microsoft officially unveiled the Xbox One X at E3 2017, calling it “the most powerful console ever”. That may be – you’d expect it be better than everything before it – but is it actually be any good? We’ve some time playing 4K games on the Xbox One X before release next week, and here’s what we think about the console.

Separately, we’ve compared the Xbox One X to the PS4 Pro, and also the Xbox One S, so we won’t spend too much time mentioning those comparisons here.

In summary:

Xbox One X
Release date 7 November 2017 – pre-order now
Price £449.99 / US$499.99
CPU 2.3GHz custom octacore processor
GPU AMD chip with 12GB GDDR5 RAM and 6 Teraflops of performance
Storage 1TB
Wireless Bluetooth + Wi-Fi
Wired 3x USB 3.0, optical audio out,
Optical drive 4K Blu-ray drive
HDR support Yes
Dimensions 300 x 239 x 61mm

Xbox One X: Pricing and availability

Microsoft announced the launch of pre-orders during its Gamescom live stream, but only for the limited edition ‘Project Scorpio Edition’ of the console, which includes an exclusive vertical stand and has ‘Project Scorpio’ inscribed on both the console and the included controller. Unsurprisingly, it sold out almost immediately.

Fortunately, you can now pre-order the Xbox One X regular edition. If you’re in the UK, head to GAME, Amazon and the official store; in the US check out GameStop, Best Buy, Amazon, and the Microsoft store. Act fast though – we don’t know how much stock Microsoft will have ready for launch.

Xbox One X: Features and design

Looking at the hardware to begin with, this is the smallest console Microsoft has ever made. And even though it’s only a little smaller than the One S, it’s remarkable considering it’s by far the most powerful console on the market. Compared to Sony’s bulky PS4 Pro, the Xbox One X looks sleek.

That grunt comes from an AMD APU, which is basically a CPU and GPU on one chip. The custom-built eight-core CPU is like that used in the PS4 Pro, but at a higher clock rate (2.3GHz vs 2.1GHz). It may not be ground-breaking, but it’s required to power the biggest change in hardware – the GPU.

The custom AMD GPU boasts 40 compute units, each running at 1172MHz. This is a considerable bump in speed, especially when compared to the PS4 Pro’s 911MHz across 36 units, and confirms Microsoft’s claim of six teraflops of GPU power. The custom GPU is backed up by a whopping 12GB of GDDR5 RAM (vs 8GB in PS4 Pro), 9GB of which is dedicated purely to gaming – the other 3GB is dedicated to the system.

But what does that mean to us at home? Essentially, the graphical power should be a bit better than the new Radeon RX 580, which costs between £250 and £300.

And like any decent PC GPU, the Xbox One X needs a decent cooling system to keep everything performing optimally – especially when powering 4K gameplay. To that end, the Xbox One X features a vapour chamber heat sink with a custom fan, helping to keep the console cool, even with it’s incredibly small dimensions.

The aim of including all that tech is to deliver superb 4K graphics at 60fps (but not in all games), and that’s really the main selling point of the One X. 4K gaming on the console is nothing short of phenomenal, and it’s something we come to in a little more detail below.

4K gaming also goes a long way to justifying that £449 price. And don’t forget there’s a 4K Blu-ray drive as well – the PS4 Pro doesn’t have one of those. And for those without super-fast internet connections that support top-quality 4K streaming (which, let’s face it, is most people) this could actually be useful.

Plus, the relatively slim dimensions mean you should be able to pop the console in your TV bench without it being particularly noticeable. And, as you’re probably spotted, it’s black rather than the more conspicuous white finish of the Xbox One S.

There’s no real change to the design of the controller, which too, is now black.

Unlike the PS4, the Xbox One X doesn’t appear to support VR. Microsoft hasn’t mentioned anything VR-related at the moment, but it’s the perfect console to provide high-end VR experiences. Could we see an Xbox VR headset, or support for existing VR headsets like the Oculus Rift in future? We can only hope.

We do know, though, that the One X supports AMD FreeSync 2 and 1440p resolutions, which could be appealing if you were planning to buy a new monitor and game on that rather than a big TV.

Xbox One X: Performance

Let’s get down to the reason why the Xbox One X is so popular: the performance is phenomenal. We’ve used the 4K-enabled PS4 Pro since it was released at the back-end of 2016 and it simply cannot compare to what the Xbox One X offers, especially with graphically demanding games like Assassin’s Creed Origins.

We’ve played a handful of games on the Xbox One X, including the likes of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Forza Motorsport 7, Middle-earth: Shadow of War and Gears of War 4, and we were hypnotised by the gorgeously detailed environments and smooth [email protected] playback. It’s true 4K too, and doesn’t rely on many of the upscaling tricks that Sony uses to provide 4K gaming on the PS4 Pro.

Whether it’s exploring dusty ruins as Lara Croft or tearing up Brands Hatch in Forza 7, the difference between what’s offered by the Xbox One X and existing consoles is night-and-day. It really is an impressive feat when you consider the size (and price!) of the PC or laptop required to provide that kind of performance!

It enhances the overall gaming experience, bringing it in line with what high-end PC gamers experience when playing the latest titles. And much like your PC brethren, Xbox One X-supported games can offer multiple graphical options to give you the experience you desire.

Xbox One X: Do I need a 4K TV?

Microsoft has marketed the One X as a console for 4K gamers so, unsurprisingly, if you don’t have a 4K TV, you won’t get the full experience.

That’s not to say you won’t notice improvements in your gameplay, though: those with standard 1080p HDTVs are granted other enhancements like faster frame rates, quicker loading times and even the possibility of supersampling the 4K output down to 1080p for higher quality textures.

But as is the case with 4K owners, the focus may vary between games and developers – some may prioritise visual quality while others will enhance framerate.

The One S also has Dolby Atmos sound and a 4K Blu-ray drive, so they’re not new or unique to the One X. But if you do have a 4K TV and you’re still on an Xbox 360 or Xbox One, the One X should be very tempting indeed – so long as you’re excited by the launch titles, and don’t mind paying a little extra for the premium gaming experience.

Microsoft has realised that gamers want backwards compatibility, and you’ll be able to play older titles on the One X (as you can on the One and One S). Indeed, for 360 games it’s as simple as inserting the disc.

But it’s the new games, and those existing titles getting the Enhanced treatment, which will be the real reason to splash out on the One X.

Xbox One X: Launch titles

Forza Motorsport 7 is one of the 4K launch titles, and it does look fantastic running on the console. In fact, we mention the Xbox One X performance in our Forza 7 review. Assassin’s Creed Origins and Middle-Earth: Shadow of War will also launch with the console and support 4K.

In fact, there will be free 4K updates for Halo Wars 2, Forza Horizon 3, Minecraft and Gears of War 4, with more than 130 games in total receiving the ‘Xbox One X Enhanced’ treatment – you can see the full list on Microsoft’s site.

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