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After 360, There Comes the Xbox One

After 360, There Comes the Xbox One
By Barry Levine

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Microsoft's Xbox One includes a Blu-ray drive, Skype communications and a new version of the Kinect gesture-based controller. The Kinect's enhanced capability to detect user movements includes the ability to read a person's heartbeat during exercise, or detect the turn of a wrist. Kinect can also recognize users by their faces and recommend Xbox content.
 


In Microsoft-land, One comes after 360. That's the Xbox One, the next-generation entertainment console successor to the Xbox 360.

The new machine, unveiled Tuesday at a press event at the company's headquarters in Redmond, Wash., goes all-out to become a competitor to cable's set-top box and assume its place as the central hub of household entertainment. In his introduction, for instance, Interactive Entertainment Business Division President Don Mattrick described the Xbox One as "where all of your entertainment comes alive in one place."

The machine, which will launch worldwide by the end of the year, turns on by voice command, and a voice brings up a user's profile and settings, or allows activities to be called up. Via voice command, a user can switch between gaming, watching live TV or a movie, listening to music, browsing the Net, or bringing up TV schedules, all while running apps. Snap Mode enables two activities to run side-by-side on the screen, such as watching a movie and a live activity like Net surfing.

New Version of Kinect

The device includes a Blu-ray DVD drive, Skype communications, and a new version of the Kinect gesture-based controller. The Kinect's enhanced capability to detect user movements includes the ability, according to the company, to read a person's heartbeat during exercise, or detect the turn of a wrist. Kinect can also recognize users by their faces and recommend content.

Other specs include an eight-core central processing unit, 8 GB of memory, native 64-bit architecture, a half-terabyte hard drive, HDMI, 802.11n Wi-Fi, 1080p video for Kinect, and USB 3.0.

For online play, the company has increased the number of dedicated servers to 300,000 from 15,000 in order to increase performance, and users can use the Xbox One to take and share in-game videos and photos. There's also the ability to search for possible team players while doing something else, such as watching TV.

And there are games, which were mostly teased in Tuesday's event, as they will be the focus of the company's press event in a few weeks at E3, the big Electronic Entertainment Expo, in Los Angeles. Microsoft said updates for Call of Duty will first be available for download to Xbox One before other systems, and a Halo TV series is coming.

New EA Partnership

Electronic Arts (EA) and Microsoft announced a new strategic partnership, and EA showed four titles -- FIFA, Madden, NBA Live and UFC -- that it said are powered by the company's new gaming engine, called EA Sports Ignite. According to an EA executive, games for the new Xbox "will blur the line between real and virtual" because of such enhancements as 10 times more animation resolution.

Next-gen competition for the Xbox One includes Sony's coming PlayStation 4, which is expected to launch in November, and Nintendo's Wii U. But the world also now includes a variety of smartphones and tablets that can access and play games, not to mention laptops and desktops.
 

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