Microsoft has finally released information on their next generation gaming console during the Xbox Reveal Event held today in Redmond Campus. With a focus on an all in one system (games, music, movies, TV, apps, etc.), the console is appropriately named: Xbox One.
Xbox One Hardware Updates
There’s a complete refresh on the console’s hardware as well as its accessories –the controller and Kinect system.
Xbox One, previously rumored to be named Xbox 720, will include 5 billion transistors, 8 GB of ram, a Blu-Ray Drive (finally), and a native 64 architecture allowing an easier developing process for new games and apps.
Other upgrades include:
- 500GB of hard drive space
- 1080p HD RGB camera
- USB 3.0
- 30 FPS Color
- Time of Flight (TOF) Technology
- Microphone Arrays
- Kinect 2.0
- Interactive TV
The Kinect has been upgraded to better respond to user voice and gestures. Voice is more conversational.
The updated Kinect camera will now be able to recognize:
- Specific depth
- Transfer of weight from one foot to another
- Heart beat
- More joints in body
- Rotation of arms, legs and wrists
The Xbox Controller has maintained a similar style with upgrades in ergonomics and new dynamic impulse triggers. New button functions were absent from the presentation.
Microsoft has promised to secure exclusive gaming content and provide priority DLC content. A total of 15 new exclusives will be released in the first year (8 of which are new IPs).
Infinity Ward provided an inside look on the new Call of Duty: Ghost title. The game provides two key upgrades:
- Dynamic multiplayer maps: players may cause map landscape changes by specific events and actions.
- Character customizations: Players can customize, gear, helmet, accessories and color, creating a truly personalized character.
Download add-ons for the Call of Duty franchise will be included in the DLC agreement with Microsoft, arriving on Xbox first. This may hinder sales for the upcoming PS 4 Launch.
EA (Electronic Arts) took the stage to announce four games that will launch in time for the next console, completely compatible with the Xbox One ecosystem:
- Madden NFL
- NBA Live
Microsoft Studios provided game footage of FORSA Motorsport 5, which will be available on launch.
Footage for Quantum Break, a sci-fi game currently in the works, was also shown during the Xbox Reveal Event.
Surprisingly, Xbox has also secured Steven Spielberg to launch a new Halo premium TV series.
Xbox One Notable Features
Confirming the rumors of an “always on” system. Xbox can be activated and navigated with only your voice.
Say Xbox On, and the console will instantly recognize you and display your personal homescreen.
Say Xbox Watch TV, and the console will display your current channel broadcast.
Say Xbox Game, and your current or idle game will display on the screen.
Changing from one application to the other, say watching TV then switching to the browser or listening to music and switching to a game, is as seamless as changing channels on your TV remote.
Gesture will also play a key part in the Xbox One experience. Simulating a pinch and zoom in a larger scale, you can grab the edges of the screen and bring them together to return to the Xbox One homescreen.
Snap mode will be present in the new Xbox One console, allowing you to use two apps simultaneously and interact with them side by side.
For example, you can Skype on the right side of the screen while watching a movie on the left. Or you can browse the web with Internet Explorer on the right, while having your game paused on the left.
You can control snap mode on your smartphone or tablet. The content will always be different depending on what application you’re using. If you are watching an ESPN event, for instance, you can pull up your personal fantasy player list on the right column.
The feature has great potential when watching other events, such as the Super bowl, award ceremonies and political debates. It will provide a real time interactive experience.
A TV Guide is also present in the Xbox One Console. However, I’m not sure how the Xbox One will tap into your current channel lineup (by replacing your cable box or tapping into your provider’s online streaming service).
Update: HDMI Pass-Thru technology will allow you to watch TV straight through your Xbox.
The Xbox Channel Guide will be similar to what you would find in most cable/satellite TV boxes. The difference will be the added benefit of using your voice to surf.
You can speak commands such as:
- Watch CBS
- Show the guide
- What’s on HBO?
- Golden Girls
Xbox Release Date and Price
Unfortunately, the Xbox big reveal ended without mentioning a price or a specific launch date. Microsoft only announced the Xbox One will be available for purchase this year. This is likely to occur before the 2013 holiday season.