New Xbox revealed – is it the One?

The Xbox One has just been announced and in this post I shall take you through the features and hardware of the new console by Microsoft.

The new Xbox was described by the presenters as the “all in one”  solution to your entertainment needs. The games console, tv receiving, video playing, internet surfing box thing that Microsoft presented was shown in a similar fashion to what the Surface was shown off in.

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The hardware itself looks very clean, modern, flat and minimalistic with the Xbox logo being turned completely white on the console and the controller. The Console is completely black and has a slightly… A slightly ‘industrial’ look to it. The controller itself has over 40 new design innovations including an integrated battery, redesigned precision dpad and feedback to the triggers, which i can imagine, would offer greater immersive gaming when for example a trigger is pulled you could have a vibration and feedback for it. Kinect has also had the minimalistic design makeover and features a new 1080p wide angle view camera (more on Kinect later).

The Specifications of the new Xbox include 8GB of RAM, a heavily customised version of an AMD Jaguar chip including a 40nm 8 core CPU and GPU on the same chip with no fewer then 5 billion transistors. The Xbox One also features Blu-Ray, a few USB 3 ports, WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, a 500GB Hard Drive and variable power states.

The Software of the Xbox One looks interesting with a total of three, yes three, operating systems powering you “all in one” entertainment experience  The first of the three operating systmes will be a dedicated bespoke gaming OS designed for gaming, the second OS is one built off of the NT kernel, brought over from Windows, and the last OS will conjoin them all into the “One” user experience.

Xbox Dashboard

This ‘always connected’ experience starts right from the words “Xbox on” you see difference, a new Xbox animation and a windows style user welcome screen greets you into an experience “built around you”.

ounce you have past the welcome you are presented with the pride of Microsoft, the Modern UI Start Screen. The Start screen on the Xbox One is a far more polished version of what we see today and looks to be far more organised and less cluttered than the dashboard we have at the moment. The tiles you have on the screen look easy to use with Kinect’s gestures and the addition of a trending category will show you what is big at the moment in the Xbox live world.
Fast switching is another new software feature to the Xbox One and works fluidly alongside Kinect and enables you to dive from games to movies, music, TV, apps and more.

With all this ducking and diving between the new experience there must be a good way of getting back home… well yes there is and guess what? yeah, your right, it involves Kinect; all you need to do is reach out with both arms grab and the push in and your back home, pull out and your back doing whatever it was that you were doing.

The addition of live TV was a very big talking point during the announcement on Tuesday and, with the kinect, it looks very easy to use and integrates with the Xbox Experience deeply. The demo given was an NBA game and when someone from the presenters fantasy league scored he got a notification and he could ‘snap’ the fantasy league app next to the TV program he was watching. This brings a whole new range of apps that can be created to make watching TV that much more engaging. In terms of navigating the TV portion of the ‘console’ you have a built in guide which shows you everything you would expect to see from a TV guide and allows you to search by voice, favorites, local and trending.

Skype for Xbox is also coming and Yusuf Mehdi gave a nice demo in which he has watching TV and a friend calls, a notification pops up along with the classic Skype ringtone and you can, of course, answer this with your voice and you don’t even have to leave your TV program to complete your Skype call.

Moving on to the Kinect 2.0 we are looking at a redesigned sensor that packs a 1080p camera and has a much wider viewing angle, increased by 60%, than its predecessor. The new Kinect also features a smooth 60 frames per second recording and is so sensitive that it can read a persons pulse by the changes in light on ones skin, whilst on the subject of light its also noteworthy that the new Kinect will work in dark, pitch black rooms. Gizmodo has a great video that shows off the new Kinect:http://gizmodo.com/kinect-2-full-video-walkthrough-the-xbox-sees-you-like-509155673

You may have noticed that I have been mentioning Kinect a lot… maybe even showing some dislike, well if you noticed this you would be right. Now lets get one thing straight, i do not hate Kinect, I dont even dislike it; Kinect is a brilliant innovative way to interact with games and now the Xbox software. What I do not like is the fact that Xbox One will not function unless the new Kinect Sensor is plugged in (“Kinect does require to be connected to Xbox One in all cases, yes,” – Harvey Eagle Xbox UK Marketing)… yeah, you read that right, even if you just want the new Xbox for gaming and nothing else, its tough luck and you have to have Kinect. This can be seen as a good thing and a bad thing; how is the retail price looking now? If the retailer Zavvi is to be believed the Xbox One will cost £399 and has a shipping date of the 30th of November.

Finally Xbox Live. The Xbox live membership will remain the same but the major changes come in the form of the back-end of things. Microsoft has increased the number of Xbox Live servers from 15,000 to 300,000. This is an absolutely huge increase and is likely to be accommodating the push behind ‘cloud’ integration Microsoft has where now your content is stored in the cloud and is always available everywhere. Microsoft has also created a DVR service which enthusiasts can use to record and save game-play online and can be shared easily. The Xbox live service now enables dynamic achievements describing how you got your achievements and not just what you have achieved and a new matchmaking service that aims to pair you up with similar ability players which is ‘similar’ to what the Xbox Live service is supposed to do now.

In conclusion the new Xbox brings an all in one entertainment solution into your home innovating on the way you use your TV and even though i disagree with the fact that Kinect has to always be plugged in it will indeed make this new experience complete and i would recommend you brought it with Kinect even if it was an add on option. The advancements in what the Xbox is bred for (gaming) are huge and the next gen graphics look incredible, I will do a post on that later though. Thanks for reading!

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