Microsoft was the first of the big three video game companies to hold their press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, E3. Yesterday afternoon they spent a lot of time talking about their upcoming games, and their latest peripheral, the Kinect which is a 3-dimensional camera and microphone that can be used to play games using advanced motion detection capabilities.
That was great if you are a gamer, but Microsoft also announced two new big features. Perhaps the biggest is that they are now shipping a brand new version of the XBOX 360 console. It’s slimmer than the previous models, boasts a 250GB hard drive, 802.11N wireless, 5 USB ports, HDMI, TosLink audio output, and it is apparently “whisper quiet.”
A quiet XBOX 360 with fast wifi is what users of Microsoft’s Media Center technology have really been waiting for. Unfortunately the price for this model is $299. One can expect that this technology will filter its way down into the lower tier offerings, but I very much doubt that we will see a $199 XBOX 360 with the 802.11N included. But if you were looking for a quiet wireless box to use as a Windows Media Center extender then you can order yours now.
Another new feature coming to the XBOX 360 is the addition of ESPN to the dashboard. You will now be able to watch live and recorded events directly from the XBOX 360 dashboard. Much of the video will even be streamed in HD. The ESPN offering will also include some social features such as voting on the outcome of a game that you are watching. Don’t go thinking that you can cut that cable bill now though. While ESPN will be free for XBOX Live Gold subscribers, it will work in a similar fashion to ESPN3.com where you will need to have ESPN through your TV provider in order to use it on the XBOX.
Getting back to the Kinect motion detection technology, you will be able to use it navigate the XBOX 360 dashboard just by waving your hands. Just imagine Minority Report and you will get the idea. When using Kinect to navigate it will modify the interface to make it more friendly to the gesture-based system.
For complete details of all of the upcoming features head on over to xbox.com.