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Microsoft Xbox One leaves many questions unanswered

Microsoft wants its all-in-one solution device, the Xbox One, to be central to your living room.

BT Online Bureau | May 29, 2013 | Updated 12:44 IST

Microsoft, in an attempt to offer an all-in-one solution for playing games, watching TV and more, recently unveiled the Xbox One entertainment console.

One thing accepted by tech followers around the world is that the tech major wants its latest device to be central to your living room. After four years of development, Microsoft has put together a device with features like the ability to change TV channels through voice commands.

Though the device won't go on sale until later this year, Microsoft allowed a closer look at the Xbox One to attendees at the unveiling.

Here's what Associated Press found out -

DESIGN:
With contrasting matte and gloss finishes, the Xbox One is the slickest video game console so far, although we don't yet know what Sony's upcoming PlayStation 4 will look like. (Nintendo's Wii U is already out, although sales have fallen short of the company's forecasts.) The Xbox's outer shell, which Microsoft calls "liquid black", features vented flourishes and all the inputs and outputs one might need, including multiple USB ports and HDMI pass-through.

PHOTO: Reuters

KINECT:
The new version of the Xbox's camera-based Kinect system comes with better motion and voice detection, including the ability to recognize faces, tell if you're smiling or talking and gauge your heart rate. It appears as sexy as the Xbox console and has been overhauled under the hood.

It's three times more sensitive and has a larger, 60-degree field of view. In a demo, the doodad's high-definition camera easily displayed crystal-clear 1080p video and could detect up to seven people, though it lagged as more folks stood in front of it. The basic motion detection appears vastly improved, but the voice detection feature wasn't made available to try out, adding to the list of unknowns.

PERFORMANCE:
The system seems to work harmoniously together. For example, by combining the Kinect's face detection ability with the machine's wireless controllers, it recognized -almost magically -when users swapped controllers.

PHOTO: Reuters

CONTROLLER:
The new controller's layout is mostly unchanged, but the bulky battery bump is gone from the back. The smoother Xbox One controller boasts a new directional pad and vibrating trigger buttons. The triggers pulsated in tandem with such imagery as a character's heart beating and a car revving up during a demo with a prototype controller.

REQUIREMENTS:
Luckily, the Xbox One won't require a constant connection to the Internet, but there's a possibility that some of the key features wouldn't work as well or at all. The Kinect system is required and will come with the machine, rather than sold separately as has been the case with the Xbox 360. The Xbox One also will feature privacy settings so it doesn't feel like the Kinect's camera is always watching you.

PHOTO: Reuters

LIMITATIONS:
Xbox 360 games won't work on the Xbox One because the underlying technology is different, according to Microsoft. Microsoft was vague about how the Xbox One will handle previously played games bought from other gamers, though it confirmed used games will work somehow. There had been talk that Microsoft might restrict used games on the new machine.

GAMES:
Actual games weren't available to try out afterward. Microsoft said it plans to focus on Xbox One titles at the E3 conference, which starts June 11.

VERDICT:
The Xbox One feels like an improvement over its predecessor. But it fails to include features some fans have demanded, including the ability to play games bought for the existing Xbox 360 system.

Of course, many particulars about the Xbox One could change between now and when it's released. For now, the system looks to be a thoughtful piece of technology, but there's still a lot that isn't known.

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