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Xbox ‘One’ pushes boundaries in hardware, graphics, and user experience

Xbox One

It’s official. The name of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 successor is Xbox One.

The Xbox One is a sleek, glossy black machine that appears to be close to the same size as the Xbox 360. It features harder-edged corners in comparison to the Xbox 360’s more rounded shape. The Kinect camera is a separate peripheral with a form factor similar to the new console’s and the same glossy black exterior. The console features voice controls for various functions via Kinect and integrated support for live TV switching.

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In terms of the raw hardware, Microsoft confirms a beefed up set of specs to the tune of 5 billion transistors and 8GB of RAM, compared to the 360’s 500 million and 512MB, respectively. The console comes equipped with a Blu-ray drive, multiple USB 3.0 ports, and an 802.11n spec Wi-Fi receiver. The Kinect is significantly improved as well, with a 1080p camera that captures a wider field of view and more accurate sensors, to the point that they’ll be able to detect your heartbeat as you exercise.

The Xbox One has integrated support for TV and cable services, complete with Kinect-powered voice and motion controls. Switching from game to movie to live TV to a guide was shown to be a quick and seamless process during the presentation, with only a brief pause between each changeover. Kinect voice controls are theoretically smart enough to open up your cable guide to the appropriate channel if you say something like “Xbox, what’s on HBO?” Motion controls give users the ability to swipe between channels and back out/go into full screen mode.

Snap Mode is an important new feature; it basically amounts to multitasking on your console. In Snap Mode, you can open up certain apps in a frame on the right side of the screen, things like Internet Explorer or Skype. Xbox SmartGlass supports Snap Mode as well as integrated TV features, allowing you to use external devices like smartphones and tablets as both a keyboard and a remote control.

Xbox One Console

Skype is amped up as well on Xbox One. Microsoft notes that the VoIP app will support group video calls on Xbox. In Snap Mode, video windows appear at the side of the screen, next to whatever content you’re viewing in the main space.

Little is revealed for now on the new face of Xbox Live. Microsoft confirms that it is “completely cloud connected,” with players now able capture gameplay, DVR-style, and save it to the cloud. It sounds like Achievements received an overhaul to be more “dynamic and changing” – how, exactly, remains to be seen – and a new matchmaking services gives players the ability to find competitors for one game while playing a completely different game.

Finally we have the controller. The basic design of Microsoft’s widely loved gamepad is unchanged for the most part. The iconic Guide button now rests above the Start/Back buttons, but that appears to be the only cosmetic difference. The D-pad gets a much-needed redesign as well, but it still lives in the same location. The coolest new aspect of the Xbox One controller relates to the analog triggers: these are now dynamic impulse triggers, which means that a developer can send feedback (ie rumble) independently to each trigger.

We’ll have more details for you later today, but you can tide yourself over for now with additional details from Microsoft’s official press release. Let us know what you think of the Xbox One right now in the comments below!

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