Xbox One: What Are The Upsides To Tuesday’s Announcement?

After seeing so much negativity about the reveal of the new Xbox One, and seeing all the news that it “won’t have this” or “won’t have that”, I got to thinking about what it will have that will set it apart from other devices.  I understand that from a gamer standpoint, it feels wrong to have so many other things in the console that detract from the games themselves, but are more available things necessarily bad?  If you think of the Xbox One not as a gaming console but as an all-encompassing entertainment device, it starts to look significantly more appealing.

Xbox One Cable Guide

To start with, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Xbox One will integrate with cable providers to institute a service that allows you to, seemingly seamlessly, navigate the channel guide and even change channels with your voice or with gestures.  That’s not to say you won’t still be able to use the controller for these types of activities, but it adds the ability to find a channel very quickly, without having to navigate using channel numbers.  If it works as well as it was demonstrated (which is rarely the case), then it will likely be a selling point for me.

Xbox One

The cable guide will make it easier to navigate to your favorite channels, and even check to see if your favorite show is on.

Kinect “2.0”

The improvement over the previous system is the most important aspect.  It allows developers to push their games harder and keep progressing.  The inclusion of the new Kinect sensor (which will be packaged with the system, rather than bought as a separate peripheral) seems to be what they are focusing their attention on.  It seems to promise to turn your TV into a smart TV, regardless of the brand.  The Skype capability is an awaited feature, and should be an excellent way to use the sensor for more than just navigation and gaming.

Xbox One

Skype while watching a movie or playing a game, on the same system. Would not have crossed my mind, but seems like a great addition.

The expansion of the field of view to allow a closer range is my most anticipated upgrade.  For people living in small apartments, or even in large houses with little floorspace, sometimes the only place you can stand is between three and five feet from the sensor.  This, in addition to the sensor speed and accuracy upgrades, should make the device much more usable and can revolutionize even more games (hopefully making an appearance in the control of guns, cars, and all other sorts of interactions in the games we play).  The addition of the sensors ability to parse several dimensions of body structure makes the device a bit more appealing.  It has been discussed that it can build a basic skeletal structure, a muscle frame, center of mass, rotation (of wrists, body, ankles, etc), and even determine facial cues that show emotions.

Xbox One

The Kinect will apparently be able to recognize both gamer and controller.

The voice control, even in the current Kinect, is decent.  I’d like to see a more intuitive and quick response, like what was shown on Tuesday.  Stories from people watching on their Kinect equipped Xbox 360 reported that the Kinect recognized the announcers commands (at least as far as it acknowledging that it had been  addressed), so as long as commands become more complex and powerful, there’s so much that can be done that it seems limitless.

Controller and Hardware

The systems hardware is a massive improvement from the Xbox 360.  It’s not on par with a top-of-the-line PC, but for the money they’re likely to ask for it, it doesn’t need to be.  It’s still better than most computers on the market, especially with the mobile boom in full swing. The controller fixes the ambiguity in the D-Pad that was the only downside to the Xbox 360 controller, while going to a form factor that reminds me of a three way mix between the 360, classic Xbox, and OUYA controllers.

All this being said, my initial reaction to the name was one of disappointment, but the name has already started to grow on me.  It’s original (how many companies have named a sequel to something ‘One’?) and simple.  The possibility of so many new franchises entering the market because of the capabilities of the new system is exciting, as well as the possibility that Xbox One could possibly make my TV and entertainment center, not less powerful or capable, but even more so, all while streamlining the process of switching between sources.  I may not have it the day it launches (money is tight), but I would certainly not refuse it, and if I had the means, I wouldn’t shy away from picking it up (as long as everything works the way they’ve shown).

For more information, see the official Xbox website.