Amid much hype and excitement, Microsoft unveiled its new Xbox at the Xbox event held on May 21st 2013 at its Redmond base. Named “Xbox One,” the new console succeeds the Xbox 360 released over seven years ago. Until the launch, the new device was called by multiple names and excited fans have huge expectations from it, especially after Sony and Nintendo unveiled their next generation consoles.
Xbox One Overview
Touted as an all-in-one entertainment solution, the Xbox One with its console, controller and Kinect unit, is well-equipped to link TV, games and entertainment. The name – Xbox One – perhaps conveys a new start towards optimizing PC-based maneuvers in the living room.
Xbox One Design
The Xbox set, as a whole, conveys the looks of home theater gear. With matte and gloss finishes, the liquid-black console is sleek yet big compared to current generation consoles that have trimmed down considerably. The console features multiple USB ports and HDMI port. The redesigned controller features better ergonomics, colored buttons and directional pad. The Kinect is big with several sensory recognition inputs.
Xbox One Specifications
The Xbox One is powered by an eight-core processor and AMD graphics, with 8 GB RAM. It features a 500 GB hard drive, Blu-ray, USB 3.0 and HDMI in/out. Microsoft is merging Xbox and Windows to create a new OS. The Xbox One architecture will support three operating systems namely, the Xbox, a kernel of Windows, and a multitasking user interface.
The controller comes with an integrated battery, an enhanced D-pad and better response triggers. Its wireless feature combined with better ergonomics make it convenient to use. It works harmoniously with Kinect’s face recognition ability.
The new Kinect features a highly advanced camera with three times better resolution, a wider camera field and capability to focus closer to the camera, so as to function efficiently in small rooms. The Full HD 1080p camera with built-in infrared functionality enables you to play in pitch darkness. Algorithms detect the motion of muscles and skeleton in real time to interpret expressions, including facial expressions, such as happy or neutral. Apart from recognizing faces and facial expressions, Kinect can sense heart beat as well. The device features privacy settings that can be tweaked if players feel uncomfortable with the camera constantly watching them. Kinect also features better voice detection and includes Skype connectivity.
The new Xbox One will work with phones and smartphones via SmartGlass. An enhanced version of SmartGlass is likely to work with Windows Phone 8 smartphones, iOS and Android devices. Xbox One will also flaunt a built-in Wi-Fi Direct that allows direct communication with external devices, similar to Bluetooth functionality. Microsoft is likely to allow second screen interaction, which could outshine the current SmartGlass experience.
Microsoft will use an astounding 300,000 servers to support the new Xbox Live. Cloud services, such as user-based game saving, uploaded game recording are assured. Matchmaking services will be enhanced to work while watching movies, browsing the web, etc.
Living room entertainment
Though the Xbox 360 already links TV, games and entertainment, the Xbox One will do it with better connectivity and commands. Xbox One is designed to comply with the TV platform. So, Live TV via HDMI-in will be a touted feature. Cable TV will also likely be included in the package. Microsoft seems to be working on original programming similar to the Netflix on Xbox 360.
Voice commands, such as the Siri-meets-Google-Now are expected to come with better menu features. They can be used to order movie tickets, engage in Skype or get sports statistics while watching a game.
Xbox One Release date and Pricing
The Xbox One is expected to be released in November 2013, well in time for Christmas. Rumors suggest a $299 price tag in the U.S., but competition will play a key role, given that PlayStation 4 is also on the way. Official details on the release date and pricing have yet to be revealed.
Xbox One Games
Microsoft has unveiled a few titles namely, “Call of Duty: Ghosts,” “Forza Motorsport 5,” and “FIFA 14.” It is planning 8 new franchises for the new console in the first year. A new game titled Quantum Break from Alan Wake developers, capable of providing a cinematic feel, is likely to make it to Xbox One. More Xbox One titles are reserved for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), scheduled to take place in June 2013 at Los Angeles. Fortunately, the Xbox One does not require a constant Internet connection to play, though some features require Internet. Sadly, Xbox One is not backwards compatible with its predecessor’s games.
The Xbox One boasts a sleek design and robust functionality with its new Kinect and revamped controller. However, Microsoft has yet to reveal more about its games and about its performance in the absence of an Internet connection. Gamers trying to compare it with Sony’s PlayStation 4 or Nintendo’s Wii U must wait for the E3 event or better still, the November release.