So, unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you would have known that, yesterday, Microsoft revealed their next generation console, the Xbox One. Here are some thoughts I have on the console as we currently know it.
So, what’s in a name? From what I’ve been seeing so far online, a lot of people are scratching their heads as to why Microsoft decided to go this way with the naming. It, however, makes sense to me as it denotes that the device will be the one-stop-shop for all your entertainment needs. And I’m not going to argue with them on that. The device essentially takes everything that you have in your entertainment center and jams it into one device. Then, there is the fact that some people (i.e. the entire Internet) wanted to call the bloody thing the 720 which is about as insane me celebrating my 50th birthday next year (I’m 25 now).
I do think that the Xbox Infinity name would have been a good choice for a name, but the justification for it didn’t make sense as they were saying that “if you take the “8” from Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 and turn it sideways, it works!” Maybe turning things up on its side make it work better.
As far as the specs go on this thing, for a console, its bananas! Along with Sony, Microsoft has managed to cram a lot of hardware into these gaming and multimedia packages and some people might go out of their way to say that these things are about as powerful as the most powerful PCs on the market. Any self-respecting technophile would know that that’s no true at all.
The tech that we are seeing in these consoles now were in PCs a couple of years ago and have since moved on from that. The hardware in these consoles are awesome enough to handle what’s going on with the consoles from the non-resource intensive OS to background processing, but its not like these consoles have much to do in multitasking like PCs do and don’t need all that hardware to do so. Essentially, a computer built in 2010 can handle what these consoles do today (or holiday 2013).
There are other additions though that make it nice to have like USB 3.0 which will allow for you to add high-speed drives to your system as you won’t be able to expand the 500GB drive that comes installed with every system. They have added a Blu-ray drive to the system which will now allow them to ship all games on one disc. There is also HDMI In/Out for television pass through.
That’s right, the system is cable of bringing in an HDMI signal to allow the system to put a kind of overlay on top of whatever it is you are watching on TV. While the overlay isn’t that important for me, I like the fact that I can pass my cable TV through the system and be able to switch between TV and the Xbox effortlessly.
The case, however, leaves something to be desired. Upon first view of it, I really thought Microsoft was trying to sell me either a new cable box or a reboot of WebTV. In all honesty, I’m pretty sure anyone could get away with calling it either what with all the things that its capable of.
Nowadays, the Xbox isn’t the Xbox unless you talk about Kinect. The sensor that was introduced in 2009 as Project Natal (its been a while since I’ve typed, heard or seen that name). Since then, it has been a game-changer for the Xbox 360. Putting you into the game with your body or allowing you do control the system with just your voice, the device truly was revolutionary.
With the Xbox One, Kinect is just integral to the system, its required. And due to that, a Kinect sensor will be included with every console. This is similar to Sony’s move with including an PS Eye with every PS4.
While the new Kinect benefits from improved sensors, most of the wow factor came in the form of added gestures and voice commands. The one that got me the most excited was being able to say “Xbox on” and the system turns on. It finally helps me realize a dream that I can use my system without ever having to look for a controller.
This, however, raises privacy concerns as it points out what many would call a flaw in the system. In order for it to do that, the system and Kinect would always have to be on and listening in order to turn on. This naturally has some people up in arms as to what Microsoft is actually up to having something record us when we think its off.
Not much was revealed at the even when it comes to Xbox Live, but The Verge was able to get some useful information from Phil Harrison, a corporate vice president of Microsoft. It appears that this time around, when you buy a Gold subscription, you’re not buying it for the user, but for the system. It seems they were only discussing the fact that the household may only have one Xbox as they didn’t discuss is this would work for multiple systems and multiple users, which I imagine could be a problem for Microsoft.
Now Here Comes the Dust
This was a big question coming into the event. There had been many rumors circulating saying that the next Xbox would require an always-on connection. It was also rumored that Microsoft would be doing away with used games as well. We hoped that today Microsoft would finally shed some light on the rumors and they would finally put our worst fears to bed. They did not.
Wired states that from an email correspondance they received from Microsoft that while used games aren’t a thing of the past, it would also not be the most ideal way to purchase game.
Microsoft did say that if a disc was used with a second account, that owner would be given the option to pay a fee and install the game from the disc, which would then mean that the new account would also own the game and could play it without the disc.
There are other reports that are confirming it and many saying that they could charge as much as full retail.
On Kotaku, one of the writers caught up with Phil Harrison and asked what the official stance on always on connectivity seeing as it wasn’t really covered during the event. It was initially stated that it wasn’t going to be always-on, however, it was going to require an internet connection. Harrison went on further to say that the Xbox One will check for an internet connection at least once every 24 hours.
However, at Polygon, Microsoft sent them an email stating that most of these things were “potential scenarios” and that when the system releases, these may be non-issues.
All in all, what was shown yesterday was rather impressive. As a technophile, I love all that I saw and could actually see the tech being implemented into my household. However, given some of the logistics not being worked out, its hard to say when the device will actually be purchased. As I normally use my Xbox as an all-in-one streaming solution similar to a Roku box that can play awesome video games, Microsoft will have to be able to show me that they deserve my money on the new system along with Xbox Live if they decide to put their streaming services behind the wall like they did for this current generation.
If it isn’t there come holiday season, I guess I could buy another Roku box…