November 21, 2013
Xbox One Wants To Become The Epicenter Of Entertainment
Bryan P. Carpender for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The newly redesigned Xbox One console cuts an imposing figure. It’s substantially larger than its predecessor, sacrificing aesthetics and sleek lines in favor of a cumbersome device that Microsoft hopes will be more than just another gaming console. They want it to be the epicenter of home entertainment.
The design team settled on a sizable black rectangle, with equal parts matte and glossy. In defending their design choice, the team claims they looked to “high-definition TV manufacturers” for inspiration in their attempt to make a device that would fade into the background, becoming unnoticeable.
The black-on-black color palette extends to the newly redesigned controller in hopes of making the brightly colored gamepad buttons really pop for users. But this redesign is not just about monochromatic minimalism; it’s part of the branding strategy to transform the game console to a one-stop-shop for digital entertainment to satisfy the entire family—and keep an eye on you.
The device might be designed to fade into the background, but its high tech interface puts your entertainment front and center.
[ Watch the video: Xbox One - Invitation ]
They say that ninety percent of life is just showing up. This holds true, because that’s all you need to do. Nothing to type, not even a voice command. Xbox One sees you with its camera and logs you in automatically, allowing you to pick up exactly where you left off. Recent apps are ready to go and you can even resume your last played game exactly where you left it.
Your sci-fi childhood dreams get at least partially fulfilled with the voice command feature. Want to watch live TV? Simply speak the command, “Xbox, watch TV” and you’re watching whatever channel your cable box is on. However, accessing your DVR or on-demand programming will require you to use your cable remote.
Want to return to your homepage? “Xbox, show me my stuff” is all it takes. Though if someone else in the room speaks a command, it will use the camera’s facial recognition capabilities to recognize the speaker and bring up their info instead, provided they already have a profile setup inside your Xbox.
You can really have a Tony Stark moment if you walk into the dark room and say, “Xbox on.” This causes the console to power up and get ready to entertain you. Even better, if you have a home theater system, Xbox can send infrared commands to those devices, too, once you have set that up and indicated their brands and/or models.
Since we are all about multitasking, here is where the “snap” feature will come in handy. It allows you to “snap” apps to the side panel, running two apps at once. Track your fantasy football team in real time by snapping the NFL app to the side. Or watch TV while playing a game simultaneously.
If you’re super social, get a few friends together for a video chat on Skype, bring up the same movie and watch it together to provide your own running commentary. When the credits roll and you’re done, a simple “Xbox, hang up” will disconnect and end the session.
The apps for Xbox One that have been announced include a little something for everyone, including some of the most popular stuff out there: Hulu Plus; Netflix; The NFL on Xbox One; VUDU; ESPN; TED; and HBO GO. Plus, there’s Xbox Fitness, Skype, and Internet Explorer for full web browsing capabilities. In short, you won’t get bored.
Even with all this extra goodness, let’s not forget that Xbox One is, at its core, a game console. Included in the starting lineup for the launch are titles that run the spectrum, with something for everyone in the family.
“Dead Rising 3” is zombie-killing mayhem with improved graphics. “Killer Instinct” is an old-school fighting game. For the adrenaline junkie, there’s “Forza Motorsport 5” in all its incredible and realistic detail. And in case the gory gladiator hash-and-pillage action of “Ryse: The Son of Rome” isn’t your thing, there’s the benign sim game “Zoo Tycoon.”
These new crowd-pleasers put the console’s hardware to good use, using the voice commands and Kinect camera to interact on a new level. Order your soldier to fire a volley of arrows or distract attacking zombies with a shouted command. You can even interact with the virtual animals and have gestures mimicked, thanks to the Kinect camera’s sensors.
Whether Xbox One can live up to all the hype remains to be seen, but Microsoft has certainly made strides toward establishing it as the nerve center of your home entertainment options.
Although, you might have to move your electronic components around to make room for this new flagship device as Xbox One competes for the title of "Big Man On Campus."
The competition heats up this Friday, November 22nd.
Image Below: Screenshot of Forza Motorsport 5, only on Xbox One. Credit: Xbox