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Upgrade Your Life

The Next Xbox

Becky Worley
Upgrade Your Life

Over 76 million Xbox 360 gaming consoles have been sold since it debuted back in 2005. While the system underwent a redesign in 2011, in the gaming world, that’s eons ago. So this year, everyone expects a new Xbox, and the rumors are flying as to what new features might be added and when it might be unveiled.

What will it be called?
We know the new device is code-named Durango, but will the official release name be “Xbox 720?” Or, as others have noted, Microsoft recently snapped up domain names for Xbox8, with the 8 doubling as a symbol implying the name “Xbox Infinity.”

Faster Graphics, 3D, a DVR, Blu-Ray, and a Supercharged Kinect Rumors
Whatever the name, the new Xbox is said to run on chipsets six to eight times more powerful than today’s device. As always, Microsoft wants to convert PC Gamers to Xbox enthusiasts.

All new Xbox consoles will have a 500 GB hard drive minimum, mostly for entertainment, but all games will have to be installed. According to gaming site Kotaku, the console will have an 8-core, 64-bit CPU running at 1.6ghz, and 800mhz DirectX 11.x graphics processor units.

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The new Xbox is rumored to be capable of 3D, if you have a 3D TV. And we’re almost certain it’ll be heavy on entertainment options, such as the ability to play Blu-ray discs and game play running simultaneous with entertainment apps. Also Microsoft filed a patent to include a built-in DVR in the device so you could record shows from live TV and watch off your Xbox. There’s also a strong possibility you’ll get added controls and accessibility to the Xbox if you have a Windows 8 Phone.

Creepy Entertainment Feature
One big brother aspect of all these entertainment additions is implied in a patent Microsoft won in 2011 called “Content Distribution Regulation by Viewing User.” The idea is that a home user might stream a movie and Microsoft could use the Kinect Motion sensor to determine how many people are watching. They’d then charge you a “per seat” fee: 2 people = $20, 3 people $30. Really, Microsoft’s looking into my living room to see who’s watching? Not sure that’s going to fly, but remember: these are all just rumors and speculation.

Improved Kinect Features
One big prediction is that all Xbox consoles will come standard with a Kinect motion sensor. It may add a bit to the price, but if this is true, you can extrapolate that Microsoft might also force voice calibration to get you to use the voice control features in Kinect. Also, they might need to bring the manufacturing price down on the Kinect if it is to come included with the console, and some think Microsoft will get that price reduction by taking out the hinged base mount that currently adjusts to the height it’s placed in relation to the field of play. Instead, analysts think Kinect will have a fixed field of view, but that it will be much wider going from the current 57.5″ by 43.5″ to a 70″ by 60″ area in which it can see you and you can play. This also ties into the rumor that a wider field of view will give the Kinect the ability to recognize six people instead of the current four player max.

The hardware in the Kinect motion sensor is also due for some serious upgrades. First, many predict a switch to USB 3.0 as its connector to the Xbox. That would give the Kinect a much wider pipe to pump data back to the console – meaning decreased latency, smoother and more sophisticated game play, increased recognition of finger movement, and possibly detailed facial recognition – including interpretation of your moods. Okay, maybe the mood recognition part of that prediction belongs in the Unlikely Features category, but it’s possible.

Awesome But Unlikely Rumored Features
Microsoft filed a patent for an immersive game play option where parts of the game would be projected all across the room where you’re playing. No question that this would be cool, but it’s pretty far fetched for the next release. More likely to come soon – but not soon enough – augmented reality glasses; you’d see elements of the game in your glasses and use the Kinect’s motion sensor to control gaming with gesture.

[Related: Could Eye-Tracking Replace Your Mouse? ]

No Used Games?
There are also persistent rumors that the new console won’t allow you to play used games. Games won’t play unless you can match a new game CD to a one-use-only game code. That would put an end to the highly lucrative Xbox game resale market and even limit sharing amongst friends. That would be a really bold move from Microsoft, and I can’t quite believe they’d risk angering that many fans, but business is business, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Launch Date
While the E3 gaming conference in June is a natural time to make a big debut, the recent Sony Playstation 4 announcement puts pressure on Microsoft to unveil soon. Developer chatter has us expecting a late April announcement. One thing’s certain, the new Xbox will be available for purchase in time for the holidays.

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