Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Xbox One introduced, Microsoft's all-in-one home entertainment system

Live from New York ... no, no, that's "Saturday Night Live." Instead, live from its Redmond, Wash., campus on Tuesday morning, Microsoft unveiled its next-generation gaming console, the Xbox One.

Hopefully, Microsoft will not follow HTC's example from 2012 and release an Xbox One S, Xbox One X, etc.

Unlike Sony's PS4 unveiling, the company actually showed off the video console. The PS4 won't be revealed in total until June 10.

Microsoft’s Don Mattrick somewhat echoed what Sony said during its PS4 event. The company wants the Xbox One to be the center of all your entertainment. He said:
Where all of your entertainment comes alive in one place. To continue to lead, we must provide compelling answers to new questions.
The console was shown off alongside a new gamepad controller as well as a new Kinect motion camera.

In terms of appearance, the Xbox One is all black and mean-looking. It has a two-tone finish, with equal amounts of gloss and matte. The system comes with a slot-loading Blu-ray optical drive (fortunately for Microsoft, there is no argument over Blu-ray and HD-DVD this time around).

In terms of additional hardware specs, the Xbox One comes with an eight-core processor based on AMD's Jaguar design. It comes with 8GB of RAM, the better to compete with the PS4 with (although it will be DDR3 as opposed to the PS4's GDDR5). It will come with a 500GB hard drive -- actually smallish by today's standards, USB 3.0 ports, and WiFi Direct for communicating with the new controller and other devices. It will also include HDMI 1.4 output and passthrough.

Since the Xbox One is -- as is the PS4 -- switching to an x86-style architecture, backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games will be precluded.

A new Kinect was also unveiled, and it will come bundled with the console. Updates include 1080p video capture, along with improved recognition via the ability to detect many more points on a body. It’s also better at recognizing gestures and voice input -- it can even read your heartbeat during exercise.

Xbox Live is getting a revamp, too. 300,000 servers will be behind the service, and Xbox One will have new cloud-based features, including a DVR feature to record game play, along with back up of your media content, games and game saves to the cloud.

This is likely why the Xbox is said to require a constant Internet connection; it sounds like a lot of the functionality is based in the cloud. Microsoft hasn’t said specifically that it won’t work offline, but it’s definitely playing up the Internet capabilities of this new console

A couple of things were missing from Microsoft's event, including the two all important things: release date and price. However, attendees received a vague reassurance that the device won't be more than a year out. Electronic Art's Andrew Wilson said during the event that EA's sports games would be available on Xbox One "in the next 12 months," so that says the console shouldn't be further out than that.

Screenshots from Microsoft's Media Kit are available here.

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