REDMOND, Wash. – Microsoft thinks it has the one.
The company unveiled the Xbox One, an entertainment console that promises to be the one system households will need for games, television, movies and other entertainment.
It will go on sale later this year, for an undisclosed price.
At an hourlong presentation at the company’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters on Tuesday, Microsoft executives used voice controls to seamlessly switch back and forth between watching live TV, listening to music, playing a movie and browsing the Internet – all while running apps for fantasy football and chats. It showed how users could watch live sports on TV while getting updates on their fantasy leagues on a split screen.
Xbox One is the third entry in the latest round of the “console wars.” It follows Nintendo Co.’s launch of the Wii U in November and Sony Corp.’s tease in February for the upcoming PlayStation 4. Each of the next-generation consoles have shifted away from simply serving as gaming machines.
With the Xbox One, people will be able to get a feed of TV channels from their cable provider. The Xbox One has its own guide and lets people change channels by voice command.
The interface for the TV goes well beyond the functionality in the Wii U, which still requires users to press buttons to change the input source on the TV. Xbox One seamlessly switched between games, movies and TV shows with a single voice command.
Microsoft also unveiled a new version of its camera-based Kinect system with better motion and voice detection. It also introduced a more ergonomic Xbox controller, with new buttons and a slightly different layout from the Xbox 360 controller. The new console will also add the ability to play Blu-ray discs, matching what Sony has in its older PlayStation 3.