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05/22/2013

Move over games, new Xbox One focuses on the big screen

Microsoft’s new Xbox One is billed as a gaming console. But the ability to play games seems incidental to many of the features – and hoopla – about the new device.

If you watched the unveiling closely on Tuesday, the tech company was keen to tout how well the Xbox One will work with your TV in the living room – whether you’re watching live sports or the latest episode of Mad Men.

Gamers, meanwhile, seem a little disappointed about some features.

One common complaint online is that the Xbox One isn’t backward-compatible with the plethora of Xbox 360 games we’ve amassed. So all those old discs can be turned into coasters, should one decide to upgrade.

Another gripe is that used Xbox One games will require consumers to pay the full price of the game – even though somebody else already did. This, despite word that the new console won’t require an always-on Internet connection, a feature which many had feared.

For game developers, this means they can get more money for the titles they produce.

But the Xbox One is all about the relationship with your TV – as heard several times during the unveiling.

While it won’t have a built-in cable tuner, you can feed your cable TV feed through the Xbox and use the console’s program guide to find out what’s on, and even which shows are trending.

While watching an NFL game, you could split the screen into two chunks: one to tweet, another to watch the actual game.

And you can control all of this with a combination of gestures and voice commands  using the included Kinect system, meaning the redesigned controller can collect dust. Just say “Xbox on” to fire up the console. Or “What’s on AMC?” to see when Don Draper will grace your TV next.

I was speaking with an app developer a couple weeks ago, and asked him which unusual platform was keeping him busy. Besides the usual suspect (iOS), he said Xbox app development was a fair chunk of their work.

Sony’s new PlayStation 4 also won’t be backward compatible with older games, so it’s on even playing ground with the new Xbox.

Which console do you think will be better? The Xbox One or the PlayStation 4?

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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