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Microsoft touts Xbox One as all-in-1 entertainment

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By The Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 9:48 a.m.

REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft thinks it has the one.

The company unveiled the Xbox One, a next-generation 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.

Don Mattrick, Microsoft's president of interactive entertainment business, said the company has spent the past four years working on the “all-in-one home entertainment system.”

The console was demonstrated Tuesday at Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., headquarters using voice control to seamlessly switch back and forth between watching live TV, listening to music, watching a movie, browsing the Internet, as well as simultaneously running apps.

Microsoft executives touted the Xbox One as a replacement for the set-top box from your cable provider. It has its own guide and you can change channels by voice command.

Senior Vice President Yusuf Mehdi demonstrated how the console switched quickly between channels after saying show names like “Mary and Martha” or “Watch MTV.” His voice command of “What's on HBO?” brought up the channel guide for HBO.

“No more memorizing channels or hunting for the remote control,” Mehdi said.

The interface for the TV goes well beyond the functionality in Nintendo's 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.

“You can switch to your game like it's a TV channel flip,” said Marc Whitten, Microsoft's chief production officer of interactive entertainment business. He called it a “lag-free instant experience.”

Microsoft also unveiled a new version of its camera-based Kinect system with better motion and voice detection. It showed how users can watch live sports on TV while getting updates on fantasy leagues on a split screen. In an effort to stay ahead of rivals, Microsoft said new content for the popular “Call of Duty” game can be downloaded on the Xbox One before any other system.

Microsoft says more games will be shown at next month's E3 video game conference in Los Angeles.

It's been eight years since the launch of the Xbox 360. The original Xbox debuted in 2001, and its high-definition successor premiered in 2005.

For the past two years, Microsoft has led the gaming industry in console sales with the Xbox 360.

In recent years, Microsoft expanded the scope of the Xbox 360 beyond just games, adding streaming media apps and the family-friendly Kinect system.

Xbox has been the exclusive home to such popular gaming franchises as sci-fi first-person shooter “Halo,” racing simulator “Forza” and alien shoot-'em-up “Gears of War.” In recent years, Microsoft expanded the scope of the Xbox 360 beyond just games, adding streaming media apps and the camera-based Kinect system.

Nintendo kicked off the next generation of gaming in November with the launch of the Wii U, the successor to the popular Wii system. The Wii U features an innovative tablet-like controller, though its graphics is on par with the previous-generation Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3. Nintendo said the console sold just 3.45 million units by the end of March, well below expectations.

Sony was next, teasing plans for its upcoming PlayStation 4 - without showing the actual box - at a February event in New York. The reaction to that console, which featured richer graphics and more social features, was mixed.

Microsoft didn't waste any time showing off the Xbox One console, new Kinect sensor and Xbox controller at the beginning of Tuesday's presentation.

Microsoft's stock fell 6 cents to $35.02 in early afternoon trading Tuesday.

 

 
 


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