The forthcoming Xbox One got a bit of a kicking when it was first announced, landing itself in hot water for a number of unpopular features including a mandated 24-hour online check-in and restrictions on the used games market.
However, in light of the reaction from disgruntled gamers, these features have been scrapped, pulling the Xbox One out of its initial positivity drought.
And so the re-specc'd Xbox One console will go on sale on November 22 this year
The black console wants to be the one-stop entertainment solution for your living room, integrating live TV, games, movies and web services like Skype, all controlled using Kinect's improved voice recognition features and the updated SmartGlass.
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Xbox One release date
The official Xbox One release date is November 22 2013, slap bang at the start of the Christmas silly season. It's going to have some stiff competition though - the PS4 will be released on November 15 in the US and November 29 in the UK and Australia.
Xbox One, we're afraid to say you're in a bit of a Sony sandwich.
The Xbox One looks quite different to the Xbox 360, and the reaction since its reveal in May has been mixed to say the least. Microsoft says it has taken a "new approach to design," but many gamers just think just it looks a bit too VCR.
"We wanted to think from a holistic perspective," said Ramiro Torres, Creative Director of design on the Xbox One. "Its design has to make an appropriate statement that reflects its capability as an all-in-one entertainment system."
It's also a lot more expensive than the Xbox 360 when it hit the market in 2005 - $399 and £279.99 in the US and UK.
Xbox One Controller Price
At the end of July, it was revealed that the new and improved Xbox One gamepad will cost $59.99 (around £40/AU$65) and the Chat Headset can be bought for $24.99 (about £16 / AU$27) however it probably won't convert directly, so expect those numbers to look a bit different if you're non-US.
No big surprises here, really. The Microsoft Xbox One comes packing an x64 8-core AMD Jaguar CPU, USB 3.0 ports, 500GB hard drive and 8GB DDR3 RAM. Connectivity-wise you've got 802.11n Wi-Fi with Wi-Fi Direct functionality for exchanging data between devices - specifically the new Xbox controller.
There's also the addition of a Blu-ray drive, which marks Microsoft's first move to embrace the disc format created by Sony et al, which vanquished HD DVD back when TechRadar was but a glint in someone's eye.
So as expected, then, the new Xbox One is more like a mini-PC than any Microsoft console that's come before. These specs put the console on a par with the PS4 and bode well for developers who want to make cross-platform games.
The console has not only an HDMI-out port but also HDMI-in too. This is for interfacing with set-top boxes in order to integrate the Xbox One with your TV-watching experience. As far as you're concerned, you'll only have one device instead of two.
Microsoft's senior product manager Mike Lavin said, "You'll start to see some effects if you continue to play bad or harass other people en masse. You'll probably end up starting to play more with other people that are more similar to you."
Xbox One SmartGlass
Using the new version of SmartGlass in conjunction with the Xbox One, you can start single player games from a tablet, or view leaderboards and achievements. Xbox One "Smart Match" will also be able to set up multiplayer matches with other players in the background while you play single player games.
What's more, the Xbox One will no longer be constrained by the limits that the Xbox 360 was - your friends list will no longer be limited to 100 friends, and Microsoft Points will be replaced with real money.
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Xbox One used games and DRM
After an online backlash, Microsoft reversed its decision to mandate a once-per-24h online check in and the used game DRM policy which would have placed restrictions on the used game market.
The system will now only require a one-time connection to setup a new Xbox One. After that, gamers are free to play any disc-based game without going online again. Just like with Xbox 360, in other words.
This does away with the much-maligned 24-hour check-in requirement that would have made even offline, disc-based games null and void with a day-long dropped internet connection.
"Today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360," wrote Don Mattrick.
Previously, Microsoft set up the Xbox One with a one-time lending policy for disc-based games that would only be possible if the recipient was your friend on Xbox Live for more than 30 days.
Although "downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold," this policy is the same as the one in place on Xbox 360 and PS3 today. Also the same, digitally distributed games will be playable offline.
Microsoft's final about-face regards its original intention to region-lock games. There will be "no regional restrictions," which would have put Xbox One owning importers and travelers in jeopardy outside of Xbox One supported countries.
Xbox One: Kinect
The new Xbox One has Kinect functionality built into its very core. To turn the console on, you need only say the words "Xbox on" - the console is always listening.
A live demo at the launch event showed Kinect instantly responding to hand gestures and voice commands. That simply isn't possible on the current hardware with the Xbox 360 and suggests that the new Kinect v2 is the gesture and voice controller we always wanted it to be.
The demo showed the ability to switch between games, videos, music and live TV instantaneously using simple voice commands such as "Xbox watch TV". You can even ask to watch a specific channel - HBO was an example they used - and Xbox will take you there straight away.
Microsoft says that Kinect 2 is so fast and powerful that it detects motion in just 13 billionths of a second - the time it takes light to get from you and into the camera.
The Kinect sensor has a resolution of 1080p which means its footage will look great on your HD TV, and it captures video at 60fps which means footage that's lovely and smooth.
The camera also has a field of view that's 60% bigger than the original Kinect which means less faffing around trying to stand in the exact spot it tells you to. That combined with the more powerful processor means you'll be able to get a lot more people gaming with Kinect all at one time.
What's more, Microsoft says that the new Kinect uses infra-red, which means it works in complete darkness.
We sat down with Xbox Entertainment Studio Chief Elan Lee, who explained what the new Kinect means for next-gen gaming:
One advantage Xbox One gamers will enjoy over their PS4 counterparts is the ability to scan QR and download codes instead of having to type them in manually. Because Kinect is a mandatory inclusion, all Xbox One owners will be able to do this, saving them literally seconds per month.
Xbox One controller
The new Xbox controller is very much based on what's come before, but under the hood it's been upgraded with over 40 technical and design innovations. Updated directional pad, thumb sticks and contours aim to deliver greater precision and control, while new vibrating "impulse triggers" promise precise fingertip feedback and "an unprecedented level of gameplay immersion".
The Xbox One Wireless Controller is designed to work in concert with the new Kinect, allowing the two to be paired automatically to create seamless player syncing.
We were lucky enough to get some hands on time with the new Xbox One Gamepad where we got a peek at a few of the 40-plus improvements that have been made over its predecessor.
Based on our brief time with the new controller we felt that the impulse triggers possessed the most promise and potential for immersing players that much deeper in the gameplay, while subtler features, such as magnetic sensor-equipped triggers and a battery case that no longer protrudes from the back of the controller, hint at the many ways the controller will provide improved precision in your games and comfort in your hands.
One last feature of the gamepad that should please gamers is the low-power sleep mode it'll slip into if you step away from your TV. But instead of switching off completely, a la Xbox 360 pad, it'll wake up as soon as you pick it up again.
You can turn on the Xbox One by simply walking over and talking to it. It turns on instantly, and Kinect will recognise you and take you straight to your own personalised home screen. Here you have access to your own personal movies and music, as well as leaping straight into your own save games.