The new Microsoft Xbox One is set to be a major traffic driver into retail stores in the last quarter but the big question is will Microsoft Australia put the resources into delivering local OZ content and voice recognition.
JB Hi Fi has already started taking advance orders for the new console which has a recommended retail price of $899 which is seen by many as an extremely high price to pay for a device which could have restricted capability in Australia.
A key difference between the current $199 Xbox 360 and the new model is a new architecture, faster processors and the introduction of voice commands.
Designed to eliminate several other boxes in the home the new Microsoft offering can be switched on with a simple voice command “Xbox on.”
Your TV and Xbox turn on immediately, and in front of you is a menu similar to the new Windows 8.
You are then supposed to be able to toggle between programs using voice commands like Channel Nine, or Seven; you can call up Skype or call up stats on your favourite sport.
The big question is whether the Australian Xbox One be able to understand an Australian accent or will Microsoft have to do what Samsung did and call in the linguistic experts from Macquarie University.
In the USA users will be able to bring up CNN or Fox Sports which in Australia are on Foxtel, a service you have to pay for. You also have to pay $10 for the privilege of getting HD content.
In the USA the device goes from input to input – going from TV to a Netflix show is as quick as changing the channel on your TV, claims Farhad Manjoo from Slate.
In Australia Microsoft has a shocking reputation when it comes to delivering consumer content, unlike the USA they have failed to deliver music or content streaming to their Media Centre offering despite promising it courtesy of Sanity Music several years ago.
While Foxtel is delivered to the Xbox 360 their overall content offering to Australians is very limited.
The recent US launch of the new Xbox One left many questions unanswered, journalists were not allowed to play with a box and as one expected the “canned” presentation saw all the commands respond on cue.
Microsoft is not saying how the new media side of the Xbox one will interface with Foxtel or a Fetch TV. Some analysts claim that the new box could mean the end of the traditional media centre box from the likes of Topfield.
While the Xbox One won’t replace your Foxtel box it should, if it operates like the US box, allow you to access Foxtel channels by voice, and it will be able to layer its own content on top of what’s on the TV including Smart TV functions such as iView and Telstra Big Pond content.
SmartHouse has been told that Microsoft has already started talks with Telstra and Foxtel regarding services to the new Xbox One which over time will compete with services delivered by the likes of Samsung, LG and Panasonic.
On the downside the device will not play Xbox 360 games, Microsoft claims it couldn’t maintain backward compatibility because the new system has a different processing architecture. This is despite their new Windows 8 being backward compatible with Office and other old applications.
Farhad Manjoo from Slate points out that when you put a new game into the One, the game is automatically installed on your hard drive, meaning that you don’t have to keep inserting the disc when you want to play. The catch is that if you want to install the game on another Xbox One – that is, if you sell your game – you’ll have to pay a fee to do so.
Microsoft has quashed rumours that the One would need a constant connection to the internet – you can play single-player games without connecting, it says.
What we need now is a clear outline of how this new box will operate in Australia or whether it is still a gaming machine that forces one to pay for new games and has limited media content capability.