Wednesday 22 May 2013

Xbox One: rebooting entertainment!

It's no exaggeration to say Xbox has become my binge-viewing platform of choice! From Game of Thrones to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and House of Cards to Battlestar Galactica.

Yesterday Microsoft unveiled its third iteration of Xbox, further drawing upon the streaming revolution, and hopes hardcore gamers will come along for the, tumultuous, ride, too.

Xbox One!

Has the company's marketing division taken a page out of JJ Abrams' writer's guide and hit the reboot switch? They realise this is the third iteration, right?

The Xbox One name has been explained by Microsoft's Jeff Henshaw.

"Xbox One really embodies the concept that this is the first device, the combination of this very powerful console that brings all its eight cores - 8GB of RAM, super-fast memory, super-powerful SoC we built, super-powerful dedicated audio and video processing subsystems," Henshaw said.

"There's incredible power in this device, married with the next generation of Kinect for really enabling those subtle interactions between you and your entertainment."

He continued: "To us, One is really the embodiment that this becomes one device that addresses all the entertainment you want to enjoy on your TV, and brings it to you in a way that's so simple, that it can be the only input you have connected through your television.

"It is truly the one place to go for all this. So One ends up being a deeply meaningful thing to us here.

"It's almost a bar that we are striving to achieve, and I think we nailed it really well with the Xbox One."

When asked about whether or not the name would be confusing, especially considering the original Xbox, Henshaw said: "The original Xbox was just the 'Xbox'. It wasn't 'One'.

"There's no resemblance anymore between the two [consoles]. You can't confuse them in any way.

"So when people say 'Xbox One', it's going to be reflective of this new generation of experiences. I really don't think there's going to be any confusion."

Xbox One looks like an archaic VCR from the 1980s! Would it be churlish of me to suggest the Xbox 360 S form factor looks more appealing? Within this imposing-looking monolith lurks the following technological treats:

*8-core CPU
*8 GB system memory
*500 GB HDD, non-user-serviceable
*Blu-ray drive with native support for 3D and 4K
*802.11n wireless with Wi-Fi Direct
*HDMI in/out
*USB 3.0

As a home entertainment device, Xbox One sounds impressive coupled with Snap Mode multitasking (via Kinect) - gestures always look cooler in Hollywood movies, mostly. Naturally Microsoft has pulled out all the stops for the Xbox One. Microsoft studios is promising 15 exclusive titles and eight new franchises for the Xbox One. These include the likes of the just announced Quantum Break. The announced games left me cold for now.

It's worth repeating @delphatic's comment on Twitter that Microsoft has held Skype back for Xbox One! The company could have added its VoIP service to Xbox 360 at anytime.

There are rumours suggesting an Xbox 360 dashboard refresh this summer, paving the way to the next generation Xbox LIVE, and official support will continue post Xbox One launch.

Following in the wake of Netflix's critical success with House of Cards and Amazon Studios' move into original series production. Halo is to be turned into a live-action television series under the auspices of director Steven Spielberg.

Spielberg said of the upcoming project, “I’ve been playing games for decades… For me the Halo universe is an amazing opportunity to be at that intersection where technology and mythmaking meet to produce something really ground-breaking.” Given Spielberg's less than auspicious track record in television, I'm not expecting too much.

There's no backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 or original Xbox. This also applies to digital downloads. So, it's worth holding onto your current machine, which isn't an ideal solution if space and finances are scarce.

Pre-order Xbox One here.

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