The new Microsoft Xbox is official, and it’s called the Xbox One. Microsoft promised at its unveiling that “For the first time, you and your TV are going to have a relationship,” and calls it an “All-in-One System” with deep home-entertainment and cloud integration.
The Xbox One strongly resembles a home-theater set-top box, like the kind one gets from the cable company. It’s boxy and black, and has a retro and minimalist aesthetic. The hardware has 8GB of RAM, an 8-core CPU, and 500GB HDD. It supports 802.11N Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, USB 3.0, and Blu-ray, similar to many Microsoft Windows PCs. Microsoft claims it runs three operating systems in one, including the Xbox OS, a Windows kernel, and third designed to enable instant switching between the two (more on that later).
The Xbox One has deep Microsoft Kinect integration. In fact, each Xbox One will ship with a Kinect. The Kinect itself has been updated with a 1080p wide-angle camera and increased sensitivity to detect even the slightest movement, like a small wrist rotation, and even a heartbeat after exercising. The Xbox One controller has also been tweaked with 40 design changes and triggers that provide force feedback. The new controller will also pair with the Xbox One through Wi-Fi Direct for wireless control.
The Xbox One will utilize the Kinect to recognize the player, and as such supports personalized home screens. The Xbox One will also feature conversation voice controls. For example, the voice command “Xbox On” turns on the machine, while other voice commands enable navigation, switch between live TV and games, change channels, check program listings, bring up music, and more. The Xbox One will also have gesture support for navigation and to open and close programs.
The Xbox One works in tandem with the TV, so users will be able to instantly switch between games and live televisions shows. Through what Microsoft calls Instant Switching, the transitions are near instantaneous. Users will no long have to wait for the system to power up or shut down to play a game or watch TV.
The Xbox One will also feature multitasking on the TV, which the company calls Snap Mode. For example, users will be able to launch Internet Explorer in a small browser window while watching a movie.
Skype will also be deeply integrated for video and group calling, complete with Snap Mode and voice control support.
New Xbox Live
Xbox Live will also be updated with cloud features, and cloud storage for movies, music, games, and game saves. It will also have a game DVR, as well as an editing program, for users to share gameplay clips.
Microsoft unveiled its new Smart Match system as well. It provides an estimated waiting time for multiplayer games. This will enable users to do something else while they wait, like watch live TV via Snap Mode.
Old Xbox 360 gamer scores will be ported over to the new Xbox Live, as will Gold memberships. There will also be \”expanded achievements,\” though Microsoft did not provide further details.
As for the back end, Microsoft will rely on more than 300,000 servers to power the new Xbox Live and cloud features, up from 15,000 today, and 500 at the original Xbox Live launch.
Microsoft Smart Glass was also mentioned, and it will be integrated as well.
When? For How Much?
There is no word on pricing. However, Microsoft did claim the new Xbox will arrive later this year. We will certainly know more about it, as well as the Xbox 360, at E3, which kicks off in June.
Notes from the unveiling:
- All in One System, Simple Instant and Complete, according to Microsoft
- The Xbox One will feature personal homescreens, powered on by the spoken phrase \”Xbox One.\”
- \”Watch TV\” spoken command brings up live TV via Instant Switching.
- Instant Switching supports voice commands for launching games, TV, changing channels (\”Xbox, watch ESPN\”), movies, and music.
- \”Xbox, what\’s on HBO\” voice command brings up a channel guide with content listings.
- Kinect support provides motion and hand commands for navigating device from home screen to content.
- Xbox One supports Snap Mode, bringing mult-tasking to TV. For example, a user can bring up Internet Explorer in a smaller window while still watching content.
- Xbox One also supports Skype, which also supports Snap Mode and voice commands for answering calls.
- Xbox One features app integration, with alerts. For example, a fantasy sports app will alert users during a basketball game with a user\’s player scores.
- Xbox One specs: 5 billion transistors, 8-core CPU, 500GB HDD, 8GB RAM, USB 3.0, Wi-Fi Direct, Blu-ray, 802.11 n Wi-Fi, HDMI in and out.
- Xbox One supports \”three operating systems in one,\” according to Marc Whitten. Xbox OS, Windows kernel, and a third designed to connect the two and enable instant switching.
- Each Xbox One features a new Kinect sensor, complete with conversational voice support, 1080p wide-angle camera that can detect very light movements and body rotations. \”It can read your heartbeat,\” according to Whitten.
- New Xbox One controller has 40 design changes, with new trigger feedback support.
- Smartglass second-screen app/service native to Xbox One.
- New Xbox Live stores movies, music, games, and game saves in the cloud.
- Whitten promises a \”dedicated game DVR,\” with an editor for sharing game recordings.
- Xbox Live users can play games while waiting in line for a match.
- New Xbox Live \”based on membership you have today,\” according to Whitten.
- Microsoft will release 15 exclusive games for Xbox One within the first year.
- Xbox One will arrive later this year, no word on pricing.