Microsoft has just unveiled its new generation of console gaming, and gamers around the world look on with anticipation and hope. Jump in for the latest coverage of Microsoft's Xbox ONE reveal!
Earlier today Microsoft unveiled its contender for the next-gen battlefield, the Xbox One.
With the Xbox One, Microsoft aims to do the same thing as Sony with their PS4: to make the console the central component of your living room entertainment. The Xbox One has a dynamic array of features including in-console live TV broadcasts and an emphasis on immersive
The event saw the culmination of months upon months of silence from Microsoft, with internal spec confirmations, new interactive Kinect features, and an enhanced new online presence with the new Xbox LIVE service that's touted to have over 300,000 servers when the console goes live.
Microsoft's own Don Mattrick introduced the console's official name, showcasing the physical aspects of the system as well as introducing the core concepts that the company has focused on with the Xbox One: simple, instant and complete (note how similar this is to Sony's PS4 concepts).
All your entertainment. All in One.
Specs & Hardware
The Xbox One features an octa-core processor similar to AMD's Jaguar, and incorporates 8GB of RAM to counter Sony's PS4. Additionally the console will feature USB 3.0 ports, 500GB of HDD storage, WiFi Direct (for communication with the console's new controller and other devices) and an astounding five billion transistors–compared to the 1.4 billion in a generic AMD or Intel chip. The Xbox One also runs x86 architecture akin to a PC.
The casing and shape of the system is indeed sleek and elegant, with a glossy finish and somewhat angular controllers. The new Kinect motion sensor has been promoted from its role as an additional peripheral to an essential part of the console, and in appearance it compliments the Xbox One quite nicely.
Graphics & Processor
Custom AMD chip
GPU: DirectX 11.1
8 GB DDR3 RAM
Audio & Video
1080p via Kinect 2.0
7.1 surround sound
250,000-pixel infrared depth sensor
Storage & Media
Blu-Ray/DVD combo drive
HDMI 1.4 in/out
USB 3.0 ports
gigabit Ethernet port
3x 802.11n radios
Graphics & Processor – The rumors regarding the new Xbox were spot-on: the Xbox One features a customized AMD chip that fits an eight-core CPU with a GPU specifically tailored for DirectX 11.1 graphics and 32MB of high-bandwidth embedded ESRAM memory. As far as power usage the 28nm chip will consume around 100 watts, which is only slightly higher than the current Xbox 360 Slim and PS3 consoles–and Microsoft also guarantees that the system will be "four times quieter" when running.
Memory – 8GB of RAM to match Sony's PlayStation 4, however the Xbox One will utilized DDR3 instead of the PS4's GDDR5.
Audio & Video – 1080p (via Kinect 2.0) and 4K supported, 7.1 surround sound
Kinect 2.0 – Every Xbox One will be bundled with a Kinect–as the new peripheral is apparently essential–and will contain a 250,000-pixel infrared depth sensor and a generic 720p web cam. During the event the Kinect 2.0 was touted as being able to read and monitor your heart rate.
Storage Capacity & Media – Microsoft didn't reveal the speed of the Xbox One's hard drive, but as for capacity, the HDD will be 500GB. Additionally the console will feature a Blu-Ray/DVD combination drive that will supposedly be used as little as possible, and disc-based games may be ripped to the HDD automatically.
Connectivity – HDMI 1.4 in/out with a "few" USB 3.0 ports, gigabit Ethernet, and three different 802.11n radios will allow the Xbox One to communicate with the controller (via a form of WiFi Direct) and other devices (like Smartglass enabled Windows-based phones and tablets) without losing connection to the Internet. When the console isn't connected to additional components, the additional radios can be utilized to keep a stronger WiFi signal.
The Xbox One's new controller.
As we reported, the Xbox One's controllers are indeed more flat and sleek looking, and will feature a variety of "improvements" over the Xbox 360's.
Based on the picture above, the wireless controller does indeed look more complicated with many parts, a new and improved "precision D-Pad" to replace the X360's notoriously shunned D-Pad, with "impulse triggers" and an integrated battery compartment.
Overall the controller looks quite nice–but we all know looks can be deceiving.
Kinect, TV & UI
Yusuf Mehdi showcased how the new Kinect 2.0 sensor plays an integral part in the Xbox One's arsenal of entertainment; throughout the presentation, Mehdi grabbed the air to switch screens and used a surprisingly dynamic array of voice commands to navigate between areas, start apps, turn the console on and even switch between games and TV with ease.
The Xbox One has the ability to broadcast television programs while using the device, eliminating the need to switch between lines. What's more, the console instantly logs in, remembers your progress in your last session–from gaming, streaming movies, listening to music and more.
Mehdi showcased the instant switching features–which are pretty self explanatory and allow gamers to instantly switch between apps, games, live TV and movies on the fly–as well as the new snap mode, which affords multi-tasking, allowing users to run multiple apps at once.
With snap mode, gamers can open up Internet Explorer while watching a film–which was done during the presentation–offering a very computer-like experience.
Mehdi also showcased the interactivity of the new Skype app for Xbox One, which utilizes the Kinect's camera for webcam streaming sessions. Skype can also be opened up while doing other things in snap mode, and also features full HD and group video calls.
The new Xbox One UI makes use of Live Tiles in a way that's quite similar to the current console's setup.
The Xbox One's TV function has a variety of helpful additions like full local TV listings, a favorites tab that keeps what you like and recommends things you may enjoy, a trending tab that promotes popular content throughout the service, and of course full voice controls with the Kinect to provide wireless and seamless interactivity.
Viewers can literally say "watch CBS" and the Xbox One will switch to the appropriate channel, making remote controls obsolete. With these features Mehdi touted the Xbox One as "the beginning of intelligent TV".
Apart from the voice and video interactions the new Kinect sensor has surprising technical specs which include responses up to "13 billionths of a second" and processes up to 2gigabits of data per second. The Kinect can also broadcast in full 1080p HD, and the peripheral can recognize more physical attributes than the current-gen Kinect including orientation, muscle impact, depth and can even read your heartbeat as you exercise.
The Xbox One's UI is fairly similar to the Live Tile structure of the current-gen Xbox 360, and it wasn't really highlighted that much.
The presentation also touched upon the new and improved Xbox LIVE, which will feature over 300,000 servers to run the online community. Microsoft is also taking advantage of cloud storage just like Sony, and user content will be available and stored in the cloud.
Xbox LIVE will also afford gamers the chance to share content such as video footage–which is editable with the console's native editing and sharing tools–with friends over Xbox LIVE, and matchmaking has been described as much more dynamic and intuitive than ever before.
Overall the event was interesting to say the least, however Microsoft has still left many questions unanswered: will the Xbox One require internet to play? Is it backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games? Will it block used games?
The Xbox One is also slated for a release sometime this year–perhaps a holiday 2013 release to rival Sony's planned release of the PS4.
We're sure to find out more during this year's E3 expo where Microsoft (and Sony) will be in attendance to reveal "act two" of their new ever-unfolding console. Be sure to also tune into the Xbox One Architecture Panel for more info on the console, and if you haven't already seen the Xbox One reveal, check it out here.
Derek is an avid fan of gaming and everything geeky, and is compelled to make his mark in the field of games journalism. When he's not gaming on a console (everything from SNES to X360) you can find him reading about ancient civilizations or enjoying a fantasy epic or two.