Nintendo have played (and most likely lost) their hand in the next gen console war, Sony have shown their cards already and now it's Microsoft's turn to wow us with the new Xbox One.
Microsoft like Sony have positioned their new console as the center of your home entertainment system. A quote from #XboxReveal, "For the first time you and your TV are going to have a relationship". In fact their opening demo was all about instantly switching between TV channels, games and Skype using just voice and hand gestures.
They've achieved using a completely new software architecture that combines three different operating systems, the best version of the Xbox OS, a cut down version of Windows to view TV and run other apps and a third OS that allows for seamless switching between the two.
Sadly I doubt this would work with a Sky or Virgin Media box, but wouldn't it be great if it did.
The 4 control methods
The Xbox One can be controlled in 4 ways, firstly there's the shiny new improved Wireless controller, then voice and motion control ie. hand gestures. Last but not least is Smartglass.
The voice and motion sensing are provided by a beefed up Kinect controller. This new version of Kinect operates at a crazy bandwidth of 2Gbits/sec and can track way more body parts than the previous Kinect device. It can now track shoulder and wrist rotation as well as a persons heartbeat and facial expressions. Your heartbeat, really!?
Kinect is now able to track gestures such as commonly used hand gestures, swiping the air and grab an expand to make an app full screen. Kinect voice control now seems more natural than it was with the old Kinect device. The new console is so reliant on Kinect, it will not function if Kinect is not attached.
Smartglass has been available for some time on the Xbox 360, it enables you to use additional screens such as an iPhone, Android device or iPad to control the console. Until now it's been very rudimentary, with the Xbox One, Microsoft are now able to render graphics directly onto Smartglass.
The New Home Screen
Say 'Xbox on' and Kinect will turn the console on, revealing the new home screen instantly. The home screen is dynamic and shows your recent activity, ie. games, music and movies. A swipe of the hand takes you to the 'Trending page', this page shows the titles popular with your friends and other Xbox One users. Say 'Xbox Go Home' and you're back to the home screen.
Full Skype Integration
Xbox executive Yusuf Mehdi stated that they're bring Skype video calls to the Xbox One in full 1080P. The video will not be constrained to just showing your face, but will be capable of showing the whole living room in glorious HD.
During the reveal Microsoft demonstrated their new 'snap mode'. This allows users to use multiple apps and features simultaneously. For example whilst playing a game you can accept a call from a friend via Skype. The Skype window appears on screen and your friend can give you tips on how to complete a game level you're having difficulty with. The demo looked very slick, let's hope this comes to fruition as this is a very useful feature.
At first glance the Xbox One looks like an old 90's video recorder. It's a big old beast! We don't know much about what's inside, but what we do know is detailed in the bullet points below:
- 8GB of DDR3 RAM (8x that of a Wii U)
- 8 core CPU - AMD Jaguar cores
- 500GB Disk Storage
- Blu-Ray drive
- 802.11n Wireless with Wi-Fi Direct
- HDMI In/Out
- USB 3.0
- Silent running
- Makes heavy use of the Cloud
Xbox One to block preowned
This has to be a disaster for games retailers. Games will now be tied to an individual's Xbox Live account. If a disc has already been used on another console/account users will be prompted to pay a fee before they can play.
New Xbox Live System
Xbox live is to be revamped for the next gen console. According to Microsoft the new service will be powered by 300,000 servers! That, according to Microsoft was the entire world's computing power back in 1990. Xbox Live launched with just 500 servers. This was upped to 3,000 with the launch of the Xbox 360 and today stands at a paltry 15,000 servers.
This impressive new service to allow users to access music, movies, games and game saves anywhere at any time. Xbox One will come with a special application that allows users to capture moments from their gaming sessions and share them With friends. With so much more power, massively multiplayer games are now possible, incorporating larger, living and persistent worlds.