The Next Generation: Xbox One

Don Mattrick, president, Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, introduces Xbox One — the all-in-one entertainment system. Photo coutesy Microsoft

Don Mattrick, president, Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, introduces Xbox One — the all-in-one entertainment system. Photo coutesy Microsoft

Microsoft recently unveiled the next-generation Xbox, deemed the Xbox One. It’s been eight years since the Xbox 360 came out, so it’s about time for an upgrade. The focus for this next-gen system will be on different types of content and using new technology such as cloud interfacing and streaming. Basically, this will be the all-in-one home entertainment system.

“Xbox One is designed to deliver a whole new generation of blockbuster games, television and entertainment in a powerful, all-in-one device,” says Don Mattrick, president, Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “Our unique, modern architecture brings simplicity to the living room and, for the first time ever, the ability to instantly switch across your games and entertainment.”

To turn the console on, simply say “Xbox on.” It automatically will launch into what you were doing last when you turned it off. It integrates right into your TV – you say, “Xbox, watch TV” and it drops right into your live television feed. You can then switch easily and quickly from movies, TV, games or browser by saying, “Xbox, go to …” or even just “Go to movies.”

Amazing!

Multitasking seems to be the secondary theme, as you can use Windows 8’s snap mode (with one app “snapped” to the side of your screen to run another app on the side of the screen with your movie or where your game is playing). You can Skype while you’re watching a movie or playing a game. On top of that, you can go to ESPN (by saying “Xbox, go to ESPN”) and see the update cards on the top of your screen whenever one of your fantasy team scores or accumulates other stats.

What makes this all possible is the upgraded hardware and new architecture, including the Kinect, SmartGlass and the updated Xbox Live. Working together, these allow the fast switching between apps and content. The Kinect is redesigned to respond to your voice and made to be more conversational. It picks up motion at 13 billionths of a second (the same time it takes light photons to bounce off you and make it back to the sensors). It detects the slightest twist of your wrist and can read your heartbeat while it watches you exercise. The sensor field is expanded by 60 percent and uses a modular IR beam. Microsoft also claims it works in complete darkness.

In addition, SmartGlass will receive multiple upgrades, since it will be treated as a native part of the platform (and not just an add-on, as it was previously). Xbox Live will get a massive overhaul. Get this: It currently runs on 15,000 servers, but the upgrade will take it to 300,000 servers this year. You’ll be able to access your movies, music, games and saves from anywhere!

I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry: According to Microsoft, your older Xbox games will still work! No exact date has been announced for the Xbox One’s release, only that it will be “later this year.” Follow the Xbox Wire blog at news.xbox.com for updates, and I hope to bring you more news from this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo later this month.

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