Microsoft unveiled its success for the Xbox 360, dubbed the Xbox One. Microsoft is taking the Xbox One beyond just the current gaming and entertainment experiences that have made the Xbox 360 the console that it is today.

The Xbox One is more than just a gaming console. It is designed to be another device within your living room. Microsoft has taken the Xbox One to include traditional console gaming, sports, videos, and music to create a single immersive console.

The Xbox One console brings the technology know how of Microsoft’s 30+ years of experience to bring even more users to use an Xbox as their entertainment Hub.

Specifications

The Xbox One has made a platform shift from the Xbox 360. It now utilizes PC architecture, much as the original Xbox did. The Xbox One will have a 500GB hard drive, built-in Blu-Ray Player, 802.11 A/B/G/N Wireless, USB 3.0 ports, and Gigabit Ethernet connections. The hard drive is not replaceable, however external storage is supported.

The Xbox One will also utilize cloud technology to be able to save your games, much like on the Xbox 360. Cloud storage will become a much needed component for some future games.

Controller

Microsoft’s Xbox controller has remained largely unchanged, even from the original Xbox console. There have been some tweaks and some enhancements for each iteration of the controller. The Xbox One controller does make a couple of slight changes.

The first change is that the battery pack that juts out has been replaced with a flat battery compartment. This is designed to allow a better ergonomic experience for users. Having the battery compartment that extends beyond the back does make it difficult for some users to play comfortably.

The iconic Xbox button has been moved from the middle of the controller between, the left direction pad and right analog stick, to the upper part of the controller. It is still on the front, but now it is above the buttons.

Games

The Xbox is best known for being a gaming console, and it continues to be one. Microsoft has had exclusive titles throughout each of the Xbox consoles. This will be no different with the Xbox One.

Microsoft announced a couple things related to games today. The first is that Forza Motorsport 5 will be an Xbox One exclusive. The second item is that the partnership with Activision and the Call of Duty Series. The Xbox One will still have exclusive first-rights to the Downloadable Content for all Call of Duty games.

All games will be required to be installed on the hard drive.

Backward Compatability

The Xbox One is not compatible with Xbox 360 games or the original Xbox Games. While on a technical level the original Xbox games could theoretically be compatible, they will not play on the Xbox One.

Used Games

The used game market is big. With most game costing $60 each, it can quickly become cost prohibitive to buy every game. Many gamers choose to purchase games second hand. This may become a problem with the Xbox One. It is still not entirely clear how used games will work with the Xbox One. We are still awaiting details from Microsoft on how this will work.

Kinect

Xbox One Kinect Sensor

With the Xbox One, in addition to not only being the controller, the player can become the remote as well. This is accomplished by using your voice to state commands. For instance, you can turn on an Xbox one merely by saying “Xbox On”. Yes, you can still use the traditional method of using a controller to turn the system on, but you no longer have to do so.

The Kinect can also detect which player has the controller through the use of an infrared sensor. The infrared sensor will also be able to detect a player’s heartbeat so it can determine whether there is any reaction to what is happening on the screen. This can be particularly useful for an exercise game.

The Kinect becomes an integral piece of the Xbox One experience. So much, that the Kinect Sensor is included with each Xbox One console. The Kinect on Xbox One will allow up to six individuals to be seen on the Kinect sensor at once. Along with the increased number of players, the room that is needed can also be smaller. This is a big deal for those in townhouses or apartments who may not have a ton of room.

Television Experience

Microsoft has always wanted the Xbox console to provide a great living room experience. This wasn’t as much the case with the original Xbox, but it became more so with the Xbox 360 with the inclusion of internet streaming applications like Netflix and Hulu Plus. Along with Internet streaming, traditional channels have been available on the Xbox 360. Channels like HBO Go and ESPN.

The Xbox One takes this experience even further by allowing a Cable guide to be shown. This must be supported by your television provider. If it is supported, you will not only be able to see what is on, but will even be able to watch television on your Xbox One console.

One of the less than ideal interfaces for cable boxes is the requirement to use a remote. Remotes have been around since 1950. In the last 83 years, it has remained pretty much the same, just with more buttons and a few more capabilities. The Xbox One allows you to use your voice to watch what you want.

As an example, you can say “Watch ESPN”, “Today Show”, “SyFy Channel”. Each of these command will either take you to watch that channel, or that show. The command “Xbox, Show the Guide” will bring up the Xbox One guide for what is available to watch right now.

Again, for this to work your cable company must support the Xbox One. This feature will make it a lot easier for users to watch what they want instead of having to locate it and change the channel manually.

Snap Mode

The Xbox One takes some of its cues from Microsoft’s Windows 8. One of these is the Snap Mode feature. Snap Mode allows a player to do two things at once. You can be playing a game, watching TV, watching a movie, or browse the web and simultaneously be chatting with friends, looking up items or even looking at achievements. You can do both of these simultaneously without any issues.

Skype

Skype on Xbox One

One of Microsoft’s more recent acquisitions has been the video calling service, Skype. Skype is known world wide for providing reliable video chats and video calls. Microsoft has integrated Skype into the Xbox One. The Xbox One is capable of connecting you to your friends, in order to be able to communicate while doing other tasks, such as watching a movie, watching TV, or even playing a game.

NFL Partnership

Microsoft has partnered with the National Football League (NFL) to bring a more interactive user experience while watching a game. The partnership will allow users to instantly see updates to their Fantasy Football games in real-time. Microsoft is also planning on incorporating the Kinect, Smart Glass, and your existing devices into the experience. They have not gone into how this will be accomplished, but I am sure we will hear more throughout the year.

Missing Information

Despite all of the information given in the Xbox One announcement, there is still some information that has not yet been revealed. These include a Launch Date, Pricing, and what other games have been considered exclusives. I am sure this information will come before the launch of the Console. The only thing we know about the launch date is “Later this Year”.

Conclusion

Overall, the Xbox one looks to be a pretty good console. The inclusion of television information, improved Kinect, and snap mode are all going to make the experience of using an Xbox One as a living-room device that much more appealing. The inclusion of Skype to be able to razz your friends while playing a game, will make for new experiences. The instant switching will make the experience that much better and be able to adapt a bit better to today’s short attention spans.