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Microsoft can only hope it’s half as right as it was last time around. The 360 was built to last. That eight-year stretch of dominance makes it the oldest of the current generation of systems, and the last to be cast off in favor of a new system. Over that time the Xbox has picked up new features, like the Kinect motion sensor and ever more media streaming capabilities, but its core has remained the same.

All-in-One Entertainment

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We’re underway, and the intro video for the new Xbox has users saying that the new Xbox is going to “recognize my name, my voice, my movies” and know what you like. That’s a big cue that this generation is going to focus heavily on entertainment. Don Mattrick, President of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, says that Xbox 360 is leading the industry in entertainment, because gamers are quick to adopt new tech.

The focus for the next gen is going to focus on different types of content, and use new tech, like cloud interfacing and streaming. It’s the all-in-one home entertainment system.

New Controls

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The console turns on just from you saying “Xbox on”. It will launch into what you were doing last. This passive listening is a huge deal for natural interface. It seems incredibly responsive in the demo, but for now it’s unclear if this is an actual demo or if it’s being simulated.

It also integrates right into your TV. “Xbox, watch TV” drops you right into a live television feed. The amazing part of this is that you can switch quickly from movies, TV, games, a browser or anything else, just by saying “Xbox, go to”, or even just “Go to movies”.

Watching TV

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Or! You can go to ESPN to watch sports (“Xbox, go to ESPN”), and get update cards in the top of your screen whenever one of your fantasy team scores or accumulates other stats (or just snap in the full panel).

Microsoft also added its own TV guide, with full voice Kinect voice controls (which seem FAR more accurate than current Kinect voice controls in this demo). You can go to any channel or program by telling the Xbox to go to it, or you can just go to a Trending page with the most popular content.

Hardware

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There are three ways the Xbox One is upgraded. Hardware and new architecture, the new accessories like Kinect and SmartGlass, and a new Xbox Live.

The new architecture is what is responsible for the fast switching between apps and content. But it also means it’s not backward compatible with older Xbox games. Microsoft did not address this at the show, but it’s been speculated that it will use game streaming, like the PS4, to play older games on the new hardware. We’ll update you once we get a chance to shake down some Microsoft employees.

Kinect is “complete redesigned” to respond to you and your voice, and is made to be more conversational. It picks up motion at 13 billionths of a second, the time it takes light photons to bounce off of you and make it back for the sensors.

The 500GB HDD in the Xbox One is not removable, but that’s less of an issue because you can expand storage using the high speed USB3.0 ports.

New Kinect

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The new Kinect has a 1080p sensor, and captures videos at 60fps and far finer detection. It detects the twist of a wrist, or how balanced you are. it can read your heartbeat while watching you exercise. This is next level stuff. The sensor field is expanded by 60 percent, and uses a modulated IR beam, and uses “time-of-flight” tech to measure the time it takes photos to travel back to the Kinect. Microsoft claims it works in complete darkness.

The controller has a ton of new features, too, like the ability for designers to send feedback right into the triggers.

SmartGlass also gets a ton of upgrades, because it’s going to be treated as a native part of the platform, and not just an add-on, as it previously was.

Xbox Live is getting a massive overhaul as well. It currently runs on 15,000 servers, but it’s going to go to 300,000 this year. Insane. You’ll be able to access your movies, music, games, and saves from anywhere.

 

 

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