Feature Article

How Xbox One Will Reinvent the Living Room

Kinect, open my eyes.

by

Microsoft's initial campaign for the Xbox One caught a lot of people off guard, and the emphasis on TV and entertainment inspired massive amounts of criticism from the community at large. I was a part of that camp. Console announcements are a big deal, and people want games front and center, not Skype and cable TV integration. After meeting with Microsoft to take a look at the final build of the Xbox One OS, I've had a change of heart. What it failed to communicate in a stage presentation finally made sense, and I was instantly sold. It's not that games aren't important, but they are a given. Granted, we won't see the best games at launch, but what Xbox One owners will get isn't available anywhere else.

Traditionally, gaming consoles have been a distinct device connected to a TV. Yes, modern consoles provide some media and entertainment functionality, but these extended features never lived up to the corporate hype. Where I see the Xbox One as different, and better than these initial attempts, is the execution and breadth of integration with modern entertainment and social habits.

Take Skype, for example. Reaching out to anyone over Xbox Live on the Xbox 360 is a chore, and it's common to reach for your phone to rope logged-off buddies into a multiplayer session. Consider a scenario where all of your gaming friends own an Xbox One. If, like a lot of people able to game at a moment's notice, your friends are watching TV through the Xbox One, you can ping them through the TV for a Skype chat. Better yet, you can send them a game invite and they'll see it overlaid across the bottom of whatever they're watching. Thanks to the Xbox One's snappy multitasking capabilities and Kinect integration, it only takes a second to hop into a video call or into a game, while simultaneously pausing whatever movie or TV show you're watching. When you're finished, simply revert back to what you were doing without having missed a beat.

The snappiness, and quality of video calls, is another point worth considering. During our demo, Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi went from watching football to video chatting with a distant co-worker in the blink of an eye. Granted, there was probably an exceptional internet connection piping through this particular facility, but the Kinect's camera captured and transmitted an extremely clear image. It's also efficient, cropping the image to succinctly frame whomever is sitting in the room. If anyone stands up and walks towards the edge of the frame, the cropped portion of the image expands, virtually moving with the person on the other end of the camera.

This, to me, was a prime example of how the power of the Kinect integration can reinvent interaction. It was personal, non-invasive to either party, and as high quality as you'd hope. Better still, when it was a game invite rather than a Skype call, it took seconds to jump in and join a multiplayer session. Both features worked well, and present a strong argument for Microsoft's unique approach to a modern gaming console.

This is what got Microsoft into hot water during E3, but I think it will give it the upper hand in the long run. You use your TV for two things, in most cases: watching TV and playing games. Not only does the cable integration work, but it personalizes the experience based on who's in front of the TV. Thanks to Kinect, it's a painless process. It already knows who's commanding the Xbox One once the TV is on, and by that point, your favorite channels and recorded programs are ready and waiting. The Kinect's IR blaster even negates the need for a remote. So it not only simplifies the TV-watching process; it also makes it smarter, and brings it closer to gaming with the live notification features mentioned earlier. Seeing all of these moving parts in action, I quickly realized that Microsoft knows exactly what it's doing.

In the end, it no longer seems to me that Microsoft is disconnected from its core audience. If anything, it's adding value to the gaming experience by integrating gaming into everything one would do when they aren't actively playing. From another perspective, it's also found ways to expand the Xbox One demographic, which might not care about games in the end, but doing so won't harm or hinder the experience for people who do. Of course, the demo I saw took place in a controlled environment. We may find that once millions of people have Xbox Ones in hand, that its "revolutionary" features fail to make an impact. At the end of the day, I'm happy that Microsoft is trying. What's better: it isn't taking baby steps. On day one, the Xbox One will offer not just a new gaming console, but also a new living room experience.

Discussion

252 comments
Algearond
Algearond

God article and I agree, although will be waiting to pick up the X1.

omar_q
omar_q

The reason why MS > Sony is simply because MS is a software company at heart. And the future is software, Sony just can't compete.

Whether you like it or not, soon Windows will be a universal platform for your phone, tablet, PC and console. 

moesuir
moesuir

Sonyfans, this is a "Kinect" aritcle. It is not an article about the Eye Camera which Sony already gave up hope on.

revlux88
revlux88

I don't plan on turning my x1 on every time I watch t.v. or Netflix since it seems to be a bit of a waste of power. It looks and sounds awesome but I wouldn't want to constantly run any new console for fear of it going out on me. Of course I will try all of it out and may end up changing my mind though I doubt it.

philly215
philly215

I have to look for my surround sound remote, my smart tv remote, then my att uverse remote, then find the AMC channel just so i can watch walking dead

now....i can walk in my living room and just say 

Xbox On

Xbox Watch TV

Whats On AMC

and at the same time never miss a call from on skype like i do when im logged out on my PC.....and keep up with my boys so i dont miss when my friend Hidden5 is online playing nba2k 

Xbox One takes a whole bunch of small things and makes them unified and better.....why are people beefing with that? lol


masterace101
masterace101

lol this is future already.......for TV 

XIntoTheBlue
XIntoTheBlue

I am not a fan of the features that the article speaks of. It's convenient to be able to get a game invite by a friend expediently, but I would get annoyed if I am trying to watch a show/movie only to get bugged by people. I am not one to stop what I am watching at the behest of a game invite. I do not use Skype, though I could simply use my PC for Skype. I suppose I am not enamored with XBox's features because I either have no use for them or I have means to already make use of the same features.

rasterror
rasterror

I don't understand why so much hate.  If you're getting a PS4 then great and I bet you'll enjoy the heck out of it and congrats.  But why so much hate for Ms pushing the boundaries of a console?  Sony tried that first with the PS2 with using a DVD drive and again on the PS3 with using a blu-ray drive but when MS does something like this then people just complain.  Can I get an honest opinion as to what is so bad.  And I'm not talking about the idiotic NSA, 720p, dumb fanboy logic. I want to know what is so bad about this.

strothers101
strothers101

Well it does have great games. The fact that it doesn't have the same hardware specs as the ps4 doesn't really matter to me. I like to play games that look pretty, just like everyone else...but...would I buy a system with that as its only selling point? No. As someone who has been an avid gamer for the best part of his life I feel that graphical fidelity can only take a gaming medium so far. I am

DrKill09
DrKill09

It won't.

Consoles have turned into pc's, so why not just build a pc?  Want skype, netflix, etc in your living room?  Build a home theatre pc.  DONE! 

SIDEFX1
SIDEFX1

I am going to go on a rampage like it or not. MS has reinvent nothing to me but squashed it all into a box and then some, it also does not mean the X1 will be able to fight back against Sony. MS has needed to be heavy as on the marketing scams to get the Xbox one user base in the safety zone for themselves, considering MS console is inferior to the PS4 leaving the PS4 'future proof' ( because it is for games!). MS will have their safety in numbers tho. I think Sony has got next gen MS by the balls. 

Call me a Fanboy or whatever -MS talk like they have something when they have nothing and just bunched up into one box yet it uses inferior specs, hell my phone is 4K video ready and all it needs is some software to do what kinect can do. I have never been a fan of MS anyway But there is nothing new the Xbox one can do that isn't already out in some way or form on digital device. I see MS X1 console as a TV hugging All-in-one unit ( nothing special there really) and then just to look special MS gimmick Kinnect to look like something more, yay- for hand gestures,voice control,1080p etc, It is old already. Still got to pay for video calls one way or another then MS will have their 'recommendations'.

Ultimately the TV is most important for X1 and it is not because of games. To me games on X1 are now 'MS blind fools gateway' to trick side the X1 hub for gamers and it's core gaming audience ( which most have switched to PS4 anyway) So there will be a whole lotta new noobs for any left over MS gaming core to play. Really MS have not changed anything from their original plans.  I prefer home theater over 1 black box in the lounge room. MS never got anything right in the past but are the best at marketing and heavy bullshit marketing that MS have done for the X1 is amazing and it is worse than Apple ( who don't need to market and talk bull like MS. I feel sorry for the people that feel sorry for MS. 


PSPhoenix13
PSPhoenix13

I kind of wish we could get some non-microsoft apps. I know this will never happen, but I wish you could change the default browser to something other than IE. I haven't used IE for at least 7 years now because it was inferior compared to other offerings. I also can stand bing as a search engine. Wishful thinkings I guess

hystavito
hystavito

I keep saying this but it's something that is important to remember, a lot of these functions can be added to the PS4 with a simple mic, or the PSEye, and software.  However, the integrated TV via the HDMI input cannot, as well as the Kinect's advanced sensors.  I guess technically Sony could probably add USB peripherals to achieve those functions in the future, but of course that's a much bigger change than just software.

And yes I am getting both :).

de-astroturfer
de-astroturfer

"How xbox one will reinvent the living room"

By making it a public place accessible to Microsoft and the NSA 

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

So your in the middle of watching a movie with a date and a friend bugs you to death to play a game... WOW Looser!!! the girl walks out, and you now can go back to playing a game as its more important. LOL. 

Really, there is nothing that is not already available  I wold rather have a more powerful console!!! 

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

@omar_q NO!!  Open platforms are starting to take off and FINALLY getting support.  Steam OS, for games, android, Tizen, Firefox OS.... for tablet,phone, OpenGL, OpenCL... API. 

Microsoft is fighting Google, Apple, IBM, Samsung... and other companies that are throwing their support behind the open standards movement.  

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

@philly215 because many of us have PHONES, or and tablets that can do the SAME thing. There is NO need for what the Xbox One does, and it takes power away from the console so it can run those apps. It took talent to design those abilities away from making the console more powerful. 

zcraider1996
zcraider1996

I'm certain you'd be able to disable the notifications just like you can now if you wish.

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

@rasterror IF this came out with the Xbox in 2001 then I would have been great. If it came out with Xbox 360 in 2005 then it would have been good. But now its functions are simply duplicating what most people already have.  (a phone, a tablet, a smart TV...) 

The reason for some of the hate from former Xbox users is that Microsoft took the time and money and divested the point of the console toward an all in one console that divided its resources to enable such abilities. http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-07-15-kinect-costs-almost-as-much-as-xbox-one-to-make-says-dev  

Think of building a race car, and then instead of making a better race car they spent a big chunk of money on heated and cooled Leather seats, red cherry wood trim, in dash GPS with internet capabilities. for a RACE CAR. Most drivers who want to you know ... race would want their money spent on what it will take to win the race and no additions. Same with a GAMING console.  

Microsoft even spent extreme money on the controller though that money was more well spent.  http://www.gamespot.com/articles/microsoft-spent-hundreds-of-millions-designing-xbox-one-controller/1100-6412843/ 

revlux88
revlux88

@strothers101 If you think the ps4's only selling point is that it might have slightly better looking games then you must not have experienced all the amazing ps3 exclusives. Both the X1 and ps4 have awesome exclusives that, in the long run, will make both a more than worth their prices imho.

strothers101
strothers101

cut out halfway through my comment...joy

revlux88
revlux88

@DrKill09 The only reason I'm getting both the x1 and ps4 are for the exclusives that won't make it to p.c. I agree though that most all of those bonus features can be found on the p.c.. You still need your cable box and everything else too so the term "all in one" is a bit disingenuous imo. I still can't wait for the 15th and 22nd for the games though.

crazyrage23
crazyrage23

@SIDEFX1 1) explain to me how xbox is inferior. 

2) Xbox has all the major blockbusters with more exclusives then it did last generation. So yes it's about games

3) it integrates TV and Internet with apps. PS4 doesnt do it 

4) Microsoft is a way bigger an more knowledgeable software company than sony will ever be

5) No one has 4K and the majority of people wont for a long time. give it 5-8 years

meatz666
meatz666

@Techtroll I'm always up to mock Xbox, but use Foxnews as source is lame. 

SIDEFX1
SIDEFX1

@hystavito And having a black box won't look like much of a home theater setup either. 

PJthePlayer2
PJthePlayer2

@cirugo Except for the part 10 minutes later where you have the patch installed...

SIDEFX1
SIDEFX1

@de-astroturfer Still the possibility of a hacker getting into Xbox one and spying on people. MS will then call it a bad batch of X1 models I would guess.  

VI_timmy
VI_timmy

Its too much effort to add that

rasterror
rasterror

@Ravenlore_basic You probably can turn notifications or appear offline like on the 360.  I do that when I don't want to be bothered.

SIDEFX1
SIDEFX1

@elegantspock True that, different all together and useless to compare however. XBOX one is not a PC by any means. 

revlux88
revlux88

@crazyrage23 @SIDEFX1 1) The X1 is less capable than the ps4 in terms of graphics though the x1 is plenty capable of making great games that look awesome. The difference in power will take time to become noticeable and other than resolution differences most multi platform games will  likely be similar and only the 1st party games will truly show the ps4's graphical edge in a few years. Of course the X1 has the more sophisticated  camera (not that the playstation camera sucks or anything.)

2) The Xbox 360 had lots of awesome exclusives at the start of the current gen. These included some exclusive jrpgs which made the 360 my favorite console early on. For whatever reason the exclusives tapered off to just a handful the past few years while the ps3 had a huge # in recent years which caused me to play it far more than my 360 of late. I hope the same thing doesn't happen with the X1.

3) The ps4 integrates internet and apps and you can press one button on your remote to watch t.v. as well. The x1 is a pass through for your t.v. it is not a substitute for your cable box.

4) Microsoft is more knowledgeable about computer software and operating systems than Sony but Sony has far more experience with console games than Microsoft.

5) Both the ps4 and X1 are capable of 4k video and there are rumors that the x1 is also capable of 4k games though it is unlikely that we will see that during this next console gen unless it lasts a decade or more.

SIDEFX1
SIDEFX1

@crazyrage23 For a start game wise graphically it is inferior and performance wise also.
2. So? That would be expected anyway.  

3. cool. Yes it integrates TV and Internet with Apps. So does my TV but MS are targeting their audience and this looks like a must have and sure it is when ppl don't or can't afford to get it from another device. PS4 does not need to because it focuses on gaming as that is what people wanted. 

4. Yes Sure they are,  Yet this is all they could come up yet still don't match other company's products. 

5. Despite 1080p/4K.. The Kinect camera is not built for games. 

Techtroll
Techtroll

I'm not a big fan of their work either but if choose to keep your eyes closed to the truth than thats your choice at least they had the balls to keep it real

Techtroll
Techtroll

Ten minutes for google fiber

VI_timmy
VI_timmy

Hopefully they added thati bet it would be annoying for some people

SIDEFX1
SIDEFX1

@elegantspock Yeah, Kinect is no Oculus VR. Kinect is evolving like any camera in a cell phone would. See one exercise 'game' seen them all. With the specs in the X1 what could possibly be ground breaking? They even have heavy marketing scams on the controller and thrown a preceded amount of money to design the controller yet the controller takes battery's. All the MS research I think goes into what people will believe. 


crazyrage23
crazyrage23

@Techtroll you do realize that this article isnt say bad things about kinect right? any data kept is stored right on the console.. not to mention its not a requirement to have kinect plugged in...