Xbox One Revealed
Microsoft opened its tent this morning to usher in their latest console, bringing with it dozens of improvements and reinforcing their desire for the Xbox to be the hub for all home entertainment.
Say hello to Xbox One.
The XB1’s hardware has the look of a mid range laptop with a few bells and whistles. An 8 core CPU backed by 8 gigs of RAM and a 500gb hard drive are purring under the sleek, black hood. Disc based media will be in Blu-ray form. 2 USB 3.0 ports on the rear panel and 4 on the front. 802.11n Wireless connectivity (wired as well) with Wi-Fi Direct capabilities will get you online. And finally, not one but two HDMI ports. Why two? One out to the TV of course and one in.
As speculated, the Xbox One adds integrated home theater functionality. Live TV is now a part of the system by way of throughput from your cable or satellite TV box. Whether by IR blasters or HDMI commands, the new console can use Smart Glass technology or your own voice, thanks to the new and improved Kinect sensor, to change channels, play back DVR content and seamlessly switch to playing a disc in the drive, streaming content and, of course, playing a game.
Speaking of the new Kinect, Microsoft’s Marc Whitten promises the new Kinect will have a wider field of view and the sensor is able to detect more joints, finer movements and even “read your heartbeat”. An Xbox controller can be seen as a shield held in front of you. Even slight wrist rotations can be detected. Imagine the ‘pinch’ move made on tablets to zoom in and out, but instead of fingers, it’s your two arms and fists telling Kinect to maximize a window.
Why would you need to maximize a window, you ask? Xbox One’s hub mentality plays on a sort of picture-in-picture multitasking ability Microsoft calls Snap Mode. A perfect example of this plays to the fantasy football junkies out there. Watching Monday Night Football and keeping your stats up to speed is no longer a two-device chore. A slide-out containing your player roster updates player info as the game happen, and should you feel the need to brag, just tell Xbox to launch Skype, put your crying friend in the corner of your screen and never have to peel your eyes away from the TV.
The controller itself hasn’t changed much. They’ve added a textured ring around the analog sticks, put in a more traditional d-pad and scaled up the font on the buttons. According to the presentation, feedback motors are now built into the triggers, allowing developers to program in directional effects. All I heard was “battery sucking function”.
Not a lot of games were shown. EA vomited up one game each in their never-ending series of sports games. Remedy, the Alan Wake guys shows a few cinematics from a new titles called Quantum Break and then Infinity Ward with Call of Duty Ghosts. It might be yet another in the series, but it looks impressive. Plus, it has a dog!
When confronted on backwards compatibility, Whitten told The Verge “No, there’s not. The system is based on a different core architecture, so back-compat doesn’t really work from that perspective.” That means no old discs and no Xbox Live titles either. It makes sense from a tech perspective, the Xbox One has pulled away from its predecessors Xenon processor (PowerPC) to an x86 CPU. That’s not to say Microsoft won’t continue to sell the 360, just that you’ll need to keep the old one if you want to keep playing the old games.
Games will require installation before you can play, but can be installed AS you play, eliminating any real wait time before jumping in. Installing a title pairs it to your Xbox Live account. This means used games are a thing of the past. It’s possible to connect a game to a second account, but there’s a fee involved.
And now, that we’ve breached the money topic, the answer to the big questions: How much? Sorry, no answer. Still nothing in the way of price. No solid evidence of either console price, purchasing options, a hike in Xbox Live account prices or anything in the realm of money. Only that the console will be out later this year, likely for the holidays. Were I to take a guess, I’d put it in the range of $450-500. Each console comes with the Kinect and one controller.
Overall, I’m excited. Haters are spouting off about how multitasking was new in 1986. To that I say, but it’s never been done on a console and by extension, a television. They say that the case design is unimpressive. To that I reply, who cares? It’s not going to be displayed on a mantle, so if Microsoft is choosing function over form, especially to eliminate overheating and noise, I’m all for it. It’s just going to be tucked away inside my entertainment center anyway. For that matter, it looks quite a bit like most home theater receivers and DVR boxes. I like the integration. I’m on board with all the new features.
Now, let’s see some of those games. E3, here we come.