Microsoft has finally presented its new Xbox to the world, describing the console as an all-in-one home entertainment system for the decade ahead that can connect to existing set-top boxes, snap between live TV and other tasks such as Web surfing and video calling (courtesy of Skype), and detect user gestures with much greater accuracy thanks to an improved Kinect peripheral so sensitive it can detect heartbeats.
Naturally, the Xbox One console boasts much-improved technical specifications for the serious business of gaming: 8 GB of RAM, an eight-core CPU, Wi-Fi Direct, an integrated Blu-ray drive (so long, HD DVD) and 500 GB hard drive.
Set-top box vendors will have noted with relief that the console is not intended to replace existing STBs, although there may well be some operator concerns that by encouraging users to hook up the device to a pay-TV set-top box, Microsoft is looking to hijack their walled gardens.
Describing the device as Microsoft’s “best attempt to enter the connected TV space”, Fred Huerst, managing partner at Greenwich Consulting, said that the Xbox One currently represents the “pinnacle” of the evolving connected TV space.
Paul Jackson, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media (publisher of IP&TV News) observes that “we are still missing vital pieces of the puzzle, like price and region availability”, but adds that the Xbox One “looks like a strong contender – not just as a winning next-generation console, but as the hub of many households’ entertainment world”.