Microsoft has unveiled the new Xbox that has been named Xbox One. It is much more than just a game console and Microsoft describes it as “the ultimate all-in-one home entertainment system” with games, TV, movies, music, sports and Skype. Xbox One will be available later this year.
The new Xbox is called Xbox One
No "Xbox 720" and no "NextBox". Microsoft has decided to call it the Xbox One. Xbox One will replace the current Xbox 360 and has a range of new features.
First and most importantly, Xbox One is based on what can best be described as PC hardware - just like the PlayStation 4. With Xbox One and PlayStation 4 following the same hardware route, developers should be able to develop cross-platform games faster, cheaper and more conveniently. On the other hand, Xbox One will not support Xbox 360 games.
Xbox One game controller
Xbox One comes bundled with two accessories. The first one is a new game controller that looks largely identical to the current one. It now has four vibrators; one in each grip and one in each trigger. The second accessory is the new version of Kinect that enables motion controls, voice controls and Wii-like gaming. Speak out “Xbox On” and the game console will power up and go to the home screen.
The new Kinect supports motion and voice interaction
The user interface on Xbox One is very similar to Windows 8 with flat tiles that allow the user to navigate through games, streaming services, apps and much more. Xbox One also features a multi-tasking OS that enables users to play games while watching TV or surf the internet while using Skype.
Microsoft has chosen to keep its Xbox Gold subscription plan alive, too. The monthly subscription service is required to access many services, including some streaming apps.
The future of TV – and the past
Xbox One is much more than a game console as it will also offer streaming video apps, movie rentals, sports and TV. The latter probably calls for an explanation as Microsoft’s press conference was a bit unclear on how it worked.
The new Xbox One user interface looks a lot like Windows 8
Xbox One does not have a built-in TV tuner. Instead, TV implementation is very similar to what we know from Google TV. It is important to understand that you still need your TV box. The TV box is then connected to the Xbox One via HDMI and Xbox One adds a layer of graphics on top of the TV box interface. The basic features of the TV box can be controlled with the Xbox controller but only if you connect the small infrared eye in front of the infrared received on your TV box. This is exactly what Google tried with Google TV - and they failed miserably. It is not exactly considered a high-tech solution in 2013 but let’s see if Microsoft has more luck.
The new user interface combines TV, games, movies, music, apps and streaming services
Microsoft is also moving into content production with the introduction of the new Xbox. They have convinced Steven Spielberg to produce a TV series based on the Halo game franchise. The TV series will be called Halo: The Television Series and will debut on Xbox Live. No further details at this point.
Games and game features
Amid all the chatter about TV and movies, we need to remember that Xbox One is a powerful game console. Microsoft presented several new game titles, including some Xbox exclusives.
Forza Motorsport 5 will launch as an exclusive title for Xbox One and hopes to receive the status as the true alternative to the dominant Gran Turismo franchise, only available for the PlayStation. Call of Duty: Ghosts will also take the Call of Duty franchise to new heights, in terms of both graphics and gameplay.
Microsoft and EA Sports announced four new titles at the launch event: Fifa 14, Madden NFL 25, NBA Live 14 and EA Sports UFC. None of the games will be Xbox exclusives but Microsoft promises to bring exclusive extra content to Xbox One users.
Lastly, a game called Quantum Break, developed by the creators of Max Payne and Alan Wake, was demonstrated. Quantum Break "blurs the line between gaming and TV by integrating drama and gameplay into one seamless, uniquely immersive experience".
Microsoft says that the new hardware will enable developers to create immersive games with incredible graphics, and they are excited to show to the world what the Xbox One can do. As for games, you can obviously buy and download new games online but you can also continue to buy Blu-ray versions. The Blu-ray disc is only required once; during installation. Additionally, Microsoft says that you can start playing games shortly after you have initiated the download process. Specifically, Microsoft says that you need to download the “first segment” - whatever that means. You can also record and store game sequences on Microsoft’s online servers.
We already have some hardware specifications from Microsoft and Microsoft was willing to share a lot more than Sony did at the PlayStation 4 launch. For starters, We know how the game console looks – and it is quite big.
Inside you will find an octa-core CPU with a built-in graphics processor, GPU. Xbox One has 8GB of Ram and a 500 GB hard drive that cannot be replaced. However, you can connect an external hard drive. The box also has built-in WiFi and HDMI input and output, as well as USB inputs. Microsoft has decided to include a Blu-ray drive for game installation and movie playback.
Xbox One supports both Full HD and 4K video as well as 7.1 surround sound. Microsoft did not elaborate and it is unclear if 4K is limited to video or if it also applies to games.
The processor is said to eat approximately 100 watts in use but on the other hand Microsoft says that the console is four times quieter than the current Xbox 360.
Xbox One will launch worldwide later this year. No words on pricing. Microsoft will reveal more details at the E3 conference that begins June 10th, 2013.