May 21st was a big day for Microsoft. The Xbox One was unveiled, with technical specifications, features, and a whole lot of speculation about how it compares to Sony’s Playstation 4. It’s almost time for the latest console battle to begin, and Microsoft is moving towards a comprehensive entertainment experience rather than focusing on gaming alone.
The Tech Specs
The tech and gaming world gathered around computer screens with baited breath, waiting to see what Microsoft was bringing to the latest battle in the console war. Microsoft has made the leap to Blu-ray, finally bringing its optical technology in-line with Sony. It also comes with wireless networking built-in, 8 gigs of memory, HDMI input and output, 8 core CPU, 500 GB hard drive, and USB 3.0. Microsoft has not revealed additional details on the processor powering the Xbox One as of yet. For more on the technical specifications, visit www.FoxNews.com.
So, what sets Xbox One apart from its predecessor? Other than a new design, this version of the Xbox also comes packaged with a new and improved Kinect. It’s much better at tracking body movement, it can track facial expressions, and Kotaku reports that it’s also mandatory this time around. Microsoft has also improved on Kinect in smaller rooms, so it’ll work properly.
A somewhat freaky, but useful feature for exercise games, the new Kinect can also track your heartbeat. The Xbox runs on its own operating system, but the Windows 8 kernel is also present on the system. This is helpful for application development and future expansion.
Most of Microsoft’s presentation focused on the technical and social features of their console, as opposed to the games, which will be shown off at E3. Microsoft did make a point of announcing new titles like “Call of Duty: Ghost,” “Forza 5,” and more EA Sports games were announced in this presentation. Microsoft has said that the console needs to be connected to the Internet at least once per day for it to work properly, although details about the online connectivity requirements don’t yet seem set in stone.
Social and Television Features
Microsoft has put a great deal of emphasis on the social and entertainment features of the Xbox One. It wants to replace the myriad of devices in your living room with one box. Their Xbox. To that end, Microsoft has introduced a number of features, says Kotaku. The Snap mode provides voice control of both the console and your television, Skype is available to turn your television watching into a social experience, and Xbox Trending tracks what everyone is watching on the Xbox Live service.
Consoles like the Xbox 360 were the ultimate Netflix machine, but the One lets you watch live TV as well. A standard cable or satellite package runs about $30 per month, says www.Cable.tv, and streaming subscriptions for Netflix (and similar services) cost less than $10 per month. This means for less than $50 the Xbox One could prevail as the ultimate media machine. Given that the NFL and Microsoft have a partnership for One to bring live football games to the console, and this means that cable subscriptions might also dip down even more.
Xbox One Versus the Playstation 4
So who won round one in the console war? The Playstation 4 and Xbox One are fairly similar in hardware specs, according to Trusted Reviews, although the Playstation 4 wins out slightly in processor speed. The GPUs and memory are also nearly identical, although once again Sony pulls out slightly in front with DDR5 RAM. The One wins in the motion sensing segment, as the latest Kinect is very impressive technically, although its always-on requirement is concerning. Microsoft is placing more of an emphasis on television and other social features, although Sony has a lot planned for that segment as well. This is an area where there is no clear winner until more details come to light. The PS4 is priced at $400, and the Xbox One does not have any pricing announced yet.
Xbox One photo from Flickr user Taro Urata / tarothree.