XBox One Details: The Multimedia Experience

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When Don Mattrick, President of Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, took the stage for the official XBox One reveal, he made several statements that were quite compelling. The most important of these, however, was when he announced that he was about to "... unveil the ultimate all-in-one entertainment system".

That seems like a pretty strong claim, and Microsoft doesn't usually make strong claims without some strong support to back it up. Over the next hour, Don and several others from both inside and outside of Microsoft, added to the supporting claims that this will, indeed, be an all-in-one entertainment powerhouse!

The Types of Entertainment

Obviously, for the core fans of the XBox, it's all about gaming. But what else does the XBox One offer that can qualify it as an all-in-one entertainment system? As showcased, you can watch movies, either on the system or on Blu-Ray with the built-in Blu-Ray drive. You can listen to music, browse the internet, watch TV (*this may be US only at launch, but should be expanded to other areas later on), and - of course - play games.

With all of those different options, it seems pretty clear it has been designed not only as a gaming device, but the device that they want you to turn to for all of your entertainment needs. Coupled with these features are the nearly instantaneous recognition of voice commands and hand gestures, the ability to open a second application with whatever you have running, and total immersion with things like instant updates to fantasy league details while watching the game, and a partnership with the NFL that will add a new dimension to how you watch (or should it be experience) football games.

In some ways, this could be convenient and remove the need for complicated setups that require 7 remotes, 12 different components, and enough wires to escape a 20 floor building! Instead of needing to switch the TV to the HDMI-2, and change the surround sound Input to Movies, you stay on the XBox and just put in your Blu-Ray disc, say "XBox: Play Movie", and away you go. Later, instead of switching the TV to Component-1 to get to the cable box feed, and then fumble with the nearly dead batteries in the surround to get it to switch to the proper sound channel, you again just speak your wish: "XBox: Watch TV".

While I think that this could be a good setup and reduce the complication that some people experience in switching from one input to another, there are many who don't like this and think that Microsoft is trying to do too much. Perhaps they feel that if they had concentrated simply on creating a gaming console, it would be far superior than it will be with all of the other "added features".

At this point it's too soon to say whether it will be too much of any one thing and too little of any other, but it certainly makes for an exciting future for entertainment and the "relationship" with our TVs (I think it was Don Mattrick who said that as well).

What do you like about the XBox One's features?

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The Reveal video starts at about 1:26:30 of the below

The Technology

To make all of this come to life, Microsoft dazzled us with a bunch of numbers that might mean something, but in reality are just a bunch of numbers. Sure, they may make the machine tick faster than others, but many of them are meaningless if you are not deeply embedded in the tech world and knowledgeable about these things.

Some of the numbers:

  • 8 GB of RAM (impressive!)
  • 500 million transistors (relatively meaningless unless you know something about machine architecture)
  • 500GB Hard Drive (again, impressive, but not legendary - a couple of Terabytes might have been better)
  • 2 Gigibits per second (when talking about how much data the machine processes to recognize voice and gesture input)
  • USB 3.0 (starting to become the new standard)
  • 802.11n WiFi (also starting to become standard)
  • 1080p camera on the Kinect (that will come in handy!)

While these seem like pretty good specifications, without seeing the processing in action, they are really just a bunch of numbers used to impress us, much the same as the 20 times increase of servers that will be used for XBox Live (300,000 up from 15,000). Without seeing how this works, it is really just a very large number that is meant to impress.

Once we get more specifics on how it is working in real world applications, we will start to understand more about how good the XBox One can be. Until E3 in June, however, we will just have to be happy with the numbers, and hope that it performs as impressively as the numbers sound.

What do you think of the XBox One reveal? Exciting, or all hype and no substance?

Cheers!

-- Slyde

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