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Console Gaming on the PC: PS4 Remote Play vs. Xbox One Streaming

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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Various

Intro and Xbox One

Introduction to Remote Streaming

The ability to play console games on the PC is certainly nothing new. A wide range of emulators have long offered PC owners access to thousands of classic games. But the recent advent of personal game streaming gives users the ability to legally enjoy current generation console games on their PCs.

Both Microsoft and Sony now offer streaming from their respective current generation consoles to the PC, but via quite different approaches. For PC owners contemplating console streaming, we set out to discover how each platform works and compares, what level of quality discerning PC gamers can expect, and what limitations and caveats console streaming brings. Read on for our comparison of Xbox One Streaming in Windows 10 and PS4 Remote Play for the PC and Mac.

Xbox One Streaming in Windows 10

Xbox One Streaming was introduced alongside the launch of Windows 10 last summer, and the feature is limited to Microsoft's latest (and last?) operating system via its built-in Xbox app. To get started, you first need to enable the Game Streaming option in your Xbox One console's settings (Settings > Preferences > Game DVR & Streaming > Allow Game Streaming to Other Devices).

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Once that's done, head to your Windows 10 PC, launch the Xbox app, and sign in with the same Microsoft account you use on your Xbox One. By default, the app will offer to sign you in with the same Microsoft account you're currently using for Windows 10. If your Xbox gamertag profile is associated with a different Microsoft account, just click Microsoft account instead of your current Windows 10 account name to sign in with the correct credentials.

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Note, however, that as part of Microsoft's relentless efforts to get everyone in the Virgo Supercluster to join the online Microsoft family, the Xbox app will ask those using a local Windows 10 account if they want to "sign in to this device" using the account associated with their Xbox gamertag, thereby creating a new "online" account on your Windows 10 PC tied to your Xbox account.

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If that's what you want, just type your current local account's password and click Next. If, like most users, you intentionally created your local Windows 10 account and have no plans to change it, click "Sign in to just this app instead," which will allow you to continue using your local account while still having access to the Xbox app via your gamertag-associated online Microsoft account.

Once you're logged in to the Xbox app, find and click on the "Connect" button in the sidebar on the left side of the window, which will let you add your Xbox One console as a device in your Windows 10 Xbox app.

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Continue reading our comparison of Xbox One Streaming and PlayStation 4 Remote Play!!

The Xbox app will search your network for the console. If it can't find it automatically, you can try a manual connection by entering the console's local IP address. Make sure that your Xbox One is powered on during this process, although once you've made your first connection you'll be able to wake the console from sleep via the Xbox app.

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After finding the console automatically, or manually entering its IP address, click Connect to make the connection with your Xbox One. You'll next be presented with an overview of your Xbox One, including information on any currently running apps. Xbox One Streaming isn't a multi-user experience -- i.e., the streaming user takes exclusive control of the console and isn't connecting in the background -- so the "Now Playing" information can be very helpful in preventing the interruption of a spouse or roommate's gaming or video watching session.

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Clicking Controller reveals a virtual layout of the Xbox One's primary buttons, and can be used to navigate the console's interface from your PC while the console itself outputs video to the TV. Unfortunately, the virtual Controller interface isn't available once you start streaming video, and you'll need an actual Xbox One Controller to continue.

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While third party controllers aren't supported, users still have the option to connect their Xbox One Controller to their PC via a wired USB or wireless connection. The latter option provides flexibility that is currently unavailable with PS4 Remote Play, but it comes with added expense, as you'll need to pick up the $25 Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows (or Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver) to make Microsoft's proprietary wireless technology work with your PC.

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Once your Xbox One controller is connected, click Stream to begin the video and audio stream of your console's output. The first thing you'll see is whatever was last displayed on the console, and from there you can navigate the interface and launch games and apps just as if you were sitting in front of the TV.

While streaming, you can move your mouse to the top of the screen to reveal the Xbox app's options, including the button on the far left which allows you to change quality levels.

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As we'll discuss later on, PS4 Remote Play also has manual quality settings, but one difference between the two platforms is that Microsoft has not clearly explained the resolution and frame rate details of its various quality options. The "Very High" setting was not available when Xbox One Streaming first launched, but when Microsoft added the option in August 2015, we learned that it corresponds to 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second. Beyond "Very High," however, and as of the date of this article, there is no clear answer on the technical details of the remaining quality settings.

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While navigating the console or playing games, one great feature is the ability to use your PC's keyboard for text entry. This is especially helpful when using apps such as the Edge browser, performing a search in YouTube, or entering names and details while creating a game character. Note, however, that this feature is strictly limited to text entry; don't expect to be able to navigate the interface or control a game via your PC's keyboard or mouse.

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April 21, 2016 | 10:57 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

So neither allow KB&m in game?

April 26, 2016 | 04:42 PM - Posted by Cantelopia (not verified)

Makes no sense. This all seems like an awful lot of trouble to still be forced to use the retrograde control mechanism.

April 27, 2016 | 08:12 PM - Posted by quest4glory

It's not hard.

April 21, 2016 | 11:41 AM - Posted by funandjam

"Most games are certainly still playable and enjoyable after a slight adjustment to the latency, but you'll probably want to avoid playing any "twitch" or competitive multiplayer games via Xbox One Streaming or PS4 Remote Play."

That's true of game streaming on any device. I've got the Steam Link and a good hardwired network, but even then I couldn't stop myself from looking for the added latency in any streamed games, including ones it shouldn't affect. It just became really annoying so I stopped game streaming.

April 21, 2016 | 05:04 PM - Posted by remc86007

Can someone come up with a scenario (or game) where the ability to "game stream" outside your home would be useful? I don't understand how that is a feature; it seems like all that it does is cause all kinds of legal problems that lead to the restriction of content streaming. Latency is bad enough over wired networks, and I simply can't play games streaming over wifi, so how is over the internet feasible?

April 21, 2016 | 11:33 PM - Posted by TrashyMG (not verified)

Okay so you are stuck at your parents house for Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday. You could spends quality time talking to them about awkward and boring things or you could play Fallout 4 streaming from your PS4 at home to your laptop there.

My experience with fairly decent internet speeds games like Fallout 4, Elder Scrolls online and even Diablo III work well. GTA V is a tad too laggy for twitch like responses when driving really fast. It's best if the both systems are on your local network for games like that.

April 22, 2016 | 12:40 PM - Posted by jcaf77 (not verified)

so i liked playing Killer Instinct but now it's available on win10 so my streaming capabilities are useless right now :0P

April 23, 2016 | 07:30 AM - Posted by Jim Tanous

For me, the main appeal of console streaming are the sports games. I play Madden and NHL series every year -- and the 2K NHL games in the past...RIP :( -- and EA has completely abandoned the PC market for both titles. I think the only sports game EA still offers on the PC is FIFA.

I'm hopeful that with UWP games gaining traction, EA will participate in letting the Xbox versions of their sports game play natively on Windows 10. But, then again, the UWP game situation is far from perfect right now.

Until then, game streaming lets me play these games from the office, even when the family is hogging the TV in the living room.

April 27, 2016 | 08:15 PM - Posted by quest4glory

My experience with XBOX One streaming: wired gigabit works great, Wifi not as great (as expected.) Overall a good experience for something like a racing game or light platformer (Ori is a good example) from the laptop when you're in another room and the TV is being hogged by someone watching HGTV.

The Smart Glass app is another good addition that compliments XBOX One with or without streaming to a PC. For instance, it works on a Windows 10 desktop in the same room as a PC, so without fumbling around for a remote or repeating yourself to Kinect to change to ESPN, you can open up Smart Glass and dial it in just like that.

May 3, 2016 | 09:08 AM - Posted by scajjr2

Works fine, can play on my PC if everyone is on the big TV.

October 17, 2016 | 03:53 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Boy are you pushing for MS dominance aren't you. There is text entry for PS4 remote play and 1080p with loss of recording.

You need to update your information.

October 17, 2016 | 03:54 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Also, there is wireless play with the addition of an adapter.

September 26, 2017 | 02:53 PM - Posted by Jasonnnn1 (not verified)

Can you play xbox one remote on another network other than your home network. I know you can on PS4.

October 8, 2017 | 03:27 AM - Posted by Nick (not verified)

I've done quite a bit of streaming with the ps4 home streaming on a wired gigabit connection... at least for games like uncharted and the last of us remastered, it works just fine (after sorting out audio issues with the ps4 controller taking over). The latency isn't really noticable in that game at least. The downside, I don't have a ps4 pro so limited to 720p streaming. The quality is good enough, but wired connection helps.

I've tried streaming my xbox as well, works as advertised, at full 1080, but didn't have any compelling game on it to play to try it out with.

The reason to use this is because... someone's using the TV that the console is connected to, but you want to play some more. Yes I could just game on the pc, but uncharted 4/last of us/etc aren't on the PC and never will be (sony publisher).

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