Gaming consoles have come a long way from the original Atari and Nintendo days. Back then, the sole goal was gaming. At the beginning of this millennium, Sony introduced the Playstation 2, which included a DVD player and changed the way we saw and used the gaming console. Then the Playstation 3 came out with a Blu-ray player. This was necessary as the amount of data needed for the new high-definition games required more room on an optical disc.
The introduction of a Blu-ray player in a gaming console was intriguing for gamers. And it wasn't long before AV enthusiasts were in a hurry to review the performance of the console's optical drive. In the beginning of the Blu-ray era, the PS3 was modestly priced compared to many others brands and outperformed them to boot. Anyone looking for a new Blu-ray player could purchase a PS3 with a 500 GB hard drive to store movies, music, and pictures, and they could browse the Internet and stream content from a PC. Oh, and they could also play games.
It's been years since the introduction of the Xbox360 and PS3, and gamers and AV enthusiasts have shared the same anticipation for the next-gen consoles. Gamers were waiting for the next-level of gaming realism, and for AV guys, it was all about 4K. In February, Sony announced the Playstation 4, and a few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the Xbox One. Both unveilings spoke about the future of gaming, and both companies announced that they would support the UHD resolution (3840x2160), but Microsoft emphasized home entertainment—the company truly wants the Xbox One to be the central entertainment hub for everyone.
The Xbox One includes an HDMI pass-through that allows users to switch from the Xbox to a cable box or other HDMI source with a simple gesture, voice command, or the standard controller. The new Xbox will not shut off completely; it's always on, even in the "stand-by" mode. When a user walks in, the console can recognize you using the new Kinect, sign into your Xbox accounts such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go, and display other personalized home page information. The integration with Skype will also allow users to watch shows while Skyping with friends simultaneously. For anyone who is a gamer, the Xbox One allows you to "Snap," which is a split-screen mode. This mode displays a sidebar alongside the main screen so you can keep an eye on the televised hockey game while playing your favorite video game.
Microsoft has stated that the new console will be equipped with a Blu-ray optical drive, but the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) has yet to announce if it will be able to accommodate UHD. Plus, there has been no standardization of the new video codec (H.265) or transport via HDMI 2.0.
What is your opinion of the new Xbox One? Can gaming consoles such as this one truly become your main entertainment hub? What would be a deal breaker or a game changer for you? Will the cord-cutters still enjoy the HDMI input on the Xbox One? Tell us what you think.