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Microsoft Unveils Xbox One

(The Verge) – During a media event held at Microsoft’s Redmond, WA campus on Tuesday, the company unveiled their newest addition to the Xbox family: the Xbox One. The console is being pitched as not only a gaming machine, but an all-in-one entertainment box, allowing users to view cable TV, stream music, and watch their favorite movies. Xbox One features a newly designed controller, an improved version of the Kinect camera, and is slated to be released this Fall.

Some of the Xbox One’s technical specs.
[Image taken from forbes.com]
The new and improved Kinect.
[Image taken from polygon.com]

On a technical level, the Xbox One features an 8-core CPU, 8 GB of RAM, a 500 GB internal hard drive, built-in Wi-Fi, HDMI In/Out ports, and a Blu-Ray drive. The console also contains USB 3.0 ports, and although the internal hard drive cannot be removed, users can use an external HD for additional storage. The Xbox One will operate at multiple power states, including a standby mode for downloading content while the system is off. In addition to the console, the Kinect has also been upgraded, featuring a 1080p camera, 30 frames-per-second capture, and can read 2 GB of data per second. The camera will also be able to target more joints in the body, as well as detecting facial movement and heart beats. The Kinect will be packaged with every Xbox One console, and is required to be connected for the console to function.

The Xbox One controller.
[Image taken from videogamer.com]

The Xbox One’s controller has also been redesigned from the Xbox 360 controller. While the button and analog stick placement remain unchanged, the D-pad has been improved, sporting a more cross-like shape as well as being more responsive. The shoulder buttons have been slightly remodeled, and the triggers now feature force feedback. The controller also has an infrared LED that will allow the Kinect to instantly recognize players, and the battery pack has been completely flattened in the back, possibly allowing for up to 4 batteries.

Aside from revealing the hardware, Microsoft also announced several media features, such as being able to watch cable TV directly from the console, as well as instantly switching between watching a movie, playing a game, and watching TV. Xbox One will use voice control for inputting commands, although it seems likely that users will also be able to use a controller. Possibly the biggest new feature is the inclusion of “Snap mode”, allowing for multiple features to be used simultaneously. For example, a user can be watching a football game while they have a separate fantasy football app running at the same time.

The event also featured several new game announcements, including Forza Motorsport 5, Remedy Entertainment’s Quantum Break, and new additions to EA Sports’ franchises, i.e. Madden NFL Football, FIFA soccer, and NBA Live. In somewhat game related news, Steven Spielberg appeared in a pre-recorded video to announce that he is a working on a TV series based on the Halo franchise. Finally, a member from Infinity Ward revealed details about the upcoming Call of Duty game, Call of Duty: Ghosts, such as the game’s premise and graphical improvements. He also revealed that a dog companion will play a major factor in the campaign, and that the studio even went as far as to motion capture an actual dog.  Like in the 360 versions of the game, Ghosts will receive new DLC on Xbox One before the other systems. In addition to these games, Microsoft announced that they will be releasing 15 first party games in the console’s first year, and eight of them will be new franchises.

Infinity Ward touted the graphical detail on the dogs in Call of Duty: Ghosts.
[Image taken from pcgamer.com]

After the conclusion of the event, MS revealed some more minor details about the system. Xbox 360 users will be able to transfer their profile and gamerscore over to Xbox One, and that the maximum friend limit has been increased to one thousand. While the console does not require a constant internet connection, the system will verify that it is online every 24 hours. Xbox One will also not be backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games, and Xbox One games must be installed from the disc if users do not buy them digitally. However, the disc does not need to be in the system after the game is installed.

While Microsoft mainly focused on the all-in-one entertainment aspect of Xbox One, it seems that there will still be plenty of high quality games to convince owners of the current generation of consoles to upgrade down the line. There are still various details about the console that have yet to be announced, such as the release date and price, but Microsoft promised that they will be unveiling new details during their E3 press conference on June 10.

The Xbox One console, controller, and updated Kinect
[Image taken from xbox.com]