Microsoft’s Xbox One, Television and Steven Spielberg

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It has a name. The Xbox One. Hmm, it’s an odd one but it makes sense (sort of). Whereas the PS4 reveal seemed to be a lot of distractions and talk about social media, some of us were left wondering why we should bother buying the thing.

Micosoft have taken a different route. Rather than creating new flashy gadgetry they’ve merely refined and improved upon what was there before. 

Let’s look at the Wii U for a moment. Nintendo brought in a tablet to be used as part of the system, but the idea is completely lost on (most) people. However, perfecting the upgrades and apps that the Xbox 360 has gathered over the last few years feels like a smart way to go.

The Kinect will be sold as part of the package to be used as a remote control and motion sensor for gaming. The Kinect has also had a bit of an update and will supposedly work better across all the features of speech and motion recognition, as well as a full 1080p HD camera.

The speaker demonstrated the possibilities of voice commands and multitasking through the Xbox Live TV. You’ll be able to watch a movie while receiving a Skype video call or check Bing (no snickering) to find the latest movie trailers.

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The voice recognition seemed to work very smoothly and if it can work with little to no hiccups then it could become pretty useful. There was mention that it will be able to work effectively for multiple members of the family.

You will also be able to use your smart phone or tablet as a remote control if you wish, with the Smart Glass application. Like the Kinect, this is something people are already putting in to use with the Xbox 360 but you can expect it to work more seamlessly with the new console.

Many of the new features and improvements are thanks to the inclusion of three separate operating systems. The first is the main Xbox OS, then there’s the Windows OS for using Bing (okay, not everyone uses Bing but that’s an issue for another time) and other Windows applications. The third OS is the connector that brings all of their features together. What this means is that Xbox Live could be performing a task for you even while you’re watching TV.

We also got to see a demonstration of Xbox TV with the voice commands being used to change channels by merely saying “CBS” or “HBO”. In addition to a TV guide there is also the inclusion of “favourites” and “trending” menus for more personalisation.

During live TV you’ll be able to run other applications off to the side. However the only real demonstration came in the form of a basketball game and the speaker’s fantasy team updating as goals were scored. This was followed by an second screen showing highlights from his favourite players.

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It seems as if we’ll need to see more of this feature before we figure out what real use it could have. For things like reality TV and sports there’s the enjoyment in adding a social aspect. However it would be nice to know whether these features can be turned off. Not sure about the sound of something bleeping at me while I’m trying to watch Game of Thrones.

Of course the major concern for us in the UK is how much of this we’ll even be getting. Will the features be updated so we can watch the BBC and all the other digital channels? Unfortunately we don’t know yet.

It would also be great to find out whether there will be an ability to record TV or (more likely) whether we can watch these on demand, as all of the TV features work through an internet connection.

The big news in TV (possibly the biggest news of the presentation) was the reveal of a live-action Halo TV show to be produced by Steven Spielberg, who will be working with 343 Industries.

Spielberg obviously sees huge potential in the franchise and he does seem like the right person to oversee its production. With his experience in CG and mo-cap over the last couple of years, it’s likely that he could bring something really great to the show. Plus the fact that he’s Steven frickin’ Spielberg!

While this might not be Xbox relevant exactly, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they work out some sort of exclusive streaming deal. Arrested Development is soon to release its fourth season exclusively on Netflix. So with all this talk of streaming and the Cloud it would make sense for Microsoft to find a way to make it Xbox exclusive content.

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Xbox also revealed a new partnership with the NFL to bring interactivity to the television viewing experience. Again, we’re not sure at this point how much of this we’ll get to see in the UK. It would be interesting to see if Microsoft seeks out other partnerships in other countries as time progresses. Xbox Live and the FA Cup maybe?

It would be a bad move on Microsoft’s part if they do fail to accommodate the markets in other countries. The whole point of the new system is to integrate all aspects of the living room together in one console. So it would be a shame if we lost out on the TV features.

But what do you think of Xbox One? Is Xbox TV something you’d find a use for? Or are you happy sticking with what you’ve got?

Bonus: The Xbox One reveal also passed the Bechdel test! Go Microsoft!

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