While many were expecting something unsavoury to emerge from Microsoft’s new games console announcement, the initial ‘fear the worst attitude’ has meant that the new device looks like a fairly promising contender in the market, especially given the omission of the reported ‘always-online’ feature, although the new ‘Xbox One’ will not be without its perceived faults.
The reveal of the console, occurring at a livestreamed event from Redmond (USA) yesterday, showed that the new console, due to be ‘cloud-based’, will serve as an ‘all-in-one’ gaming system as well as a ‘home entertainment centre’.
The controller of the console (noted as including HDMI, 4K, and Blu-ray support) is notably similar to its two predecessors with a few visible alterations, along with a less protruding battery pack, ‘improved d-pad’ and ‘force feedback’ functions for the shoulder trigger buttons.
The hardware pack of the 500GB product will also include a redesigned version of the motion-sensor ‘Kinect’, now able to capturing video and body movements (including more detailed actions such as wrist alteration) at a quality of 1080p and 60fps, whilst also being an option in turning on the system through voice activation, and switching the console between ‘games’, ‘movies’ and ‘live television’ modes.
Further to the rumours of earlier this week, the latter of those three modes will be fully integrated with a user’s existing set-top box or telecommunications contract, giving a complete Xbox-style makeover of live TV viewing, equipped with guides and customisable search/trending features to discover content.
While an online connection will not be required in order to play games or watch movies, it will be a key part of the product, and needed in the mandatory event of installing all new game discs to the hard drive (and registered to a single Xbox Live account), with any discs that have already been installed to an account (whether as a second-hand game or being borrowed by a friend for the purpose) requiring an ‘additional fee’ to undergo additional installations.
Meanwhile, the ‘Architecture’ of Xbox One implements 3 different operating systems, including ‘Xbox entertainment’, a ‘kernel’ of Windows, and an intermediary operating system that connects the two for seamless switchover between content. For the ‘Windows’ side of the product, a key feature will be ‘Snap Mode’, which offers an ‘app sidebar’ for services such as Internet Explorer and Skype (itself enabling HD and group video calls on the new console), activated whilst watching TV or film content on the rest of the screen. Cloud storage is also being noted as a system for Xbox Live members to use as a means of saving physical hard drive space on digital content such as music, video, and games.
On the gaming side of the product, Xbox One will also offer Xbox Live members the chance to ‘record and edit’ footage from gameplay alongside the chance to ‘share with friends’.
Online matchmaking will also be enhanced through ‘Smart Match’, able to search for the perfect people to play against on one game while another (or a video) is running, with the hard drive / cloud storage system enabling an easy ‘switch’ between the two. Xbox One will also support users being able to have up to one thousand ‘Xbox Live friends’, but on a more negative side will not work without a functioning Kinect attached to it, and despite carrying over a Live members’ ‘Achievements’ from the Xbox 360, games from the current console will be incompatible with the new one due to having a different operating system for the purpose.
Set to launch in key global market ‘later this year’ with few specifics given (although the identity of several launch titles have been revealed), further details may have to be waited for on the Xbox One, but is it so far looking like a promising device that surpasses low expectations, or one which has already made its own bed with a number of undesirable features?
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