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Xbox One release date, specs and its backwards compatibility issues: What you need to know about the Xbox One

Everything you need to know about the new Xbox One console

New Xbox One Release date

Xbox One features

The Xbox One is much more than just a games console. It is a set-top box that allows the user to watch TV, Skype, listen to audio and browse the web. And it can do these things simultaneously, using the Windows 'Snap' feature. "This is the beginning of truly intelligent TV," said Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi.

The new Xbox One has a new processor, 8GB of memory, a Blu-ray Disc drive and 500GB hard-disk drive and Wi-Fi Direct. It's based on a new architecture that combines a dedicated Xbox architecture with the Windows kernel, on which web apps are run. Microsoft described it as running three operating systems at once.

The Xbox One is controlled by a combination of voice, gesture, the controller and the user's smartphone or tablet. "Xbox On," said Mehdi during the demonstration. The Xbox One is controllable via voice, and proved it by springing to life and presenting a personalised home screen.

Mehdi skipped through a series of commands during his demonstration: "Xbox, watch TV" and so on. It worked seamlessly during the demo, or at least appeared to.

Xbox One and the Cloud

The Xbox One "unleashes the power of the cloud [and] connects you to thousands of games, songs, TV shows, movies and sports. More importantly, it's a scalable source of power that will grow stronger over time. Best of all, your games and profile are stored in the cloud, so every Xbox One console behaves like your very own. And because it's all one service, your Xbox Live Gold membership will work on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One." Nifty eh?

Xbox One and the cloud

Xbox One requires an internet connect to work: U-turn

Initially the Xbox One was intended to only work when connected to the internet. Here is what Microsoft initially said about the Xbox One and an internet connection:

  • 1.5MB internet connection is required.
  • A persistent connection is 'not required', but one is if you want to 'verify if system, application or game updates are needed and to see if you have acquired new games, or resold, traded in, or given your game to a friend.'
  • You can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies.

However, after a impressive backlash from the public and the media, Microsoft has now done a U-turn on the ‘always connected to the internet' feature. Don Mattrick, President, Interactive Entertainment Business at Xbox said: "An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again."

He added "Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360." ?

So it's pretty much as you were with the Xbox 360…phew!

The Xbox One's "all-new Kinect'

The Xbox One has given its Kinect camera a bit of a revamp too. Kinect now comes built in to the Xbox One and Microsoft claims "It's more precise. More responsive. More intuitive. Its unparalleled voice, vision, and motion technology lets you reach into games and entertainment like never before."

The Xbox One’s all new Kinect

New Xbox One's Kinect features

Real Vision

Kinect Real Vision technology dramatically expands its field of view for greater line of sight. An all-new active IR camera enables it to see in the dark. And using advanced 3D geometry, it can even tell if you're standing off balance.

Real Motion

Kinect Real Motion technology tracks even the slightest gestures. So a simple squeeze of your hand results in precise control over a game or app. Whether you're standing up or sitting down.

Real Voice

Kinect Real Voice technology focuses on the sounds that matter, thanks to an all-new multi-microphone array. Advanced noise isolation lets Kinect know who to listen to, even in a crowded room. And, for the first time, you can use your voice to launch any Xbox One experience from anywhere in the system, so you can quickly move from one thing to another.

The new Xbox One controller

You can probably guess that with the new Xbox One console comes a new Xbox One controller. Here's the new features in a nutshell: "The best gaming controller [according to Xbox] just got better with over 40 technology innovations. New Impulse Triggers deliver precise fingertip feedback for more realistic experiences. We have streamlined the thumbsticks, D-pad, and contours for improved precision and comfort in your hands. Simply put, it is the best controller we've ever made."

Xbox One and Xbox SmartGlass

Xbox has been a little vague on SmartGlass. It clearly has huge potential as it offers user and second screen (a touchscreen no less). However, all that has been said so far is that the SmartGlass "serves up extended experiences of your favorite TV shows, movies, music, games, and sports" which is pretty much what it does right now for the Xbox 360.

Xbox One and Xbox SmartGlass

Other new Xbox One features

Other new ‘cool’ Xbox One features

Play without the wait

With Xbox One, you can start playing immediately as games install. And updates install seamlessly in the background, so your games and entertainment won't be interrupted.

Split your screen. Not your time

Ever wish you could chat with a friend on Skype while watching the playoffs? With Snap you can do both at the same time. On the same screen.

Pick up right where you left off

Want to check sports scores in the middle of a game? No problem. With auto-resume, your game is suspended right where you left off. So you can jump back instantly to the same spot. You can even start a movie or a game on one Xbox One and finish it on another.

Always ready when you are

Xbox One wakes up instantly, so it's always ready when you are. Because less time waiting means more time playing.

Jump around

Instantly and effortlessly jump back and forth between a game, TV, music, and apps. Now there's no need to back out of one experience before you jump right into another.

Take a look at the next page to see our rumour round-up from before the official launch.

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