This morning Microsoft unveiled its newest console, the Xbox One. Unlike previous Xbox models though, Xbox One isn’t just about games, it’s about becoming the one system your living room needs, and it probably means trouble for the Apple TV.
Not only can Microsoft’s latest box play video games with the best of them, but Microsoft has added features to make it the only box your TV really needs by recognizing who you are, what you movies and shows you like, and allowing you to control it all with just your voice.
The Xbox One features a new design that makes it look more like a boring cable set top box, except there’s a optical disc slot in the front that can handle both DVDs and Blu-Ray.
With its new Snap Mode feature, Xbox One can run other apps, movies, or TV on the side of screen while you’re still playing a game. Rather than selling the Kinect sensor separately, Microsoft says Kinect will come with each Xbox One unit sold.
Taking a queue from Siri, Microsoft has added voice controls to the Xbox One as well. Now when you want to pause a movie you can just say “Xbox, pause” rather than fumble around with your controller. Oh yeah, and the controller’s been redesigned too to get rid of the battery bump in the back and better controls.
One of the most exciting features that Microsoft showed off this morning though was the ability to integrate your cable set-top box with the Xbox One. Thanks to HDMI throughput, the Xbox One can display all of your cable channels, and with the new voice commands you can effortlessly switch to your favorite channel straight from a video game. All you have to do is say “Xbox, ESPN” and the console will switch the screen for you.
Microsoft also touted features like NFL Fantasy Football integration, Skype, Smart Glass, and the Kinect’s ability to detect your heart rate. Game discs will only have to be used for one-off installation, but unfortunately the Xbox One won’t be backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games.
It was clear at Microsoft’s keynote that the company doesn’t want consumers to think of Xbox as just a video game console anymore, but just incase anyone doubts the Xbox’s gaming powers they crammed 8GB RAM, an 8-core CPU, 500GB of storage space, USB 3.0, a 1080p camera on the Kinect, and HDMI in and out into the Xbox One. Pricing wasn’t announced at the event, but it’s expected to launch later this year.
With the sheer amount of features that Microsoft has crammed into the Xbox One it’s pretty clear that Microsoft is the company to beat in the living room right now. While Apple TV is a simple and cheap enough solution for many TV lovers, the advanced features in Xbox One make it appeal to both gamers and video content lovers alike.
Hopefully Apple’s got something up its sleeve for Apple TV at WWDC, otherwise it’s going to be impossible for Cupertino to compete in the living room now that Redmond is targeting hardcore gamers as well as average TV addicts.