Xbox One price, release date and official specs
The Xbox One will go on sale in the UK on November 22nd with a price tag of £429 ($499 in the US, €499 in Europe).
MORE: Xbox One review
The Xbox One will launch in 13 territories around the world, – not the 21 announced during the console's unveiling. Russia, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark will miss out on a 2013 release date (Japan will see a 2014 release). The UK and US release windows remain the same.
The console will take on Sony's new gaming platform, the PS4, as they both launch in key territories within weeks of each other.
MORE: PS4 vs Xbox One
Previous rumours suggested that November 8th would be the day, at least in the US, followed by a November 30th UK launch.
But what else do we know about the Microsoft's new console? Allow us to round-up everything you need to know, from the specs to the controller to the games.
Xbox One specs
Spec wise the Xbox One has an 8 core CPU built by Microsoft specifically for the One by AMD, as well as a D3D 11.1 graphics chip with a dedicated 32MB of built-in ESRAM memory.
It has 8GB DDR3 of RAM and a 500GB hard disk drive for storage. Inside, you will also find a Blu-ray player – for the first time on an Xbox console – meaning it can look Sony's PS4 square the eye when it comes to spinning HD movies. Elsewhere, there's also HDMI input and outputs, a digital optical out and 2 x USB 3.0 connection.
The PS4 is said to be a tad more powerful in the GPU stakes, but the One has an advantage when it comes to CPU. Which one is more powerful? It'll probably be down to how developers maximise the tools at their disposal.
Like the PS4, the Xbox One will be capable of automatically recording your gameplay. Unlike the PS4, it will be only able to record the last five minutes of gameplay and not 15 minutes, as is the case with Sony's console.
Footage will be captured at 720p and 30 frames per second by the Xbox's built-in DVR, irrespective of the source resolution. Content can be manipulated with the console's built-in editing facility called Upload. With it you can add picture-in-picture commentary, add skins and tags before uploading the video and sharing with your friends.
Footage can be capture in two ways: you can either say 'Xbox, record that' and the DVR will record the last 30 seconds or you can go into the Upload app and edit the last five minutes of gameplay recorded.
Along with the slot-loading Blu-ray drive, Microsoft has also announced that the Xbox One will be both 3D and 4K compatible – though there's no sign of 4K games arriving any time soon, at least on home consoles.
Microsoft did the first official Xbox One Unboxing video on YouTube and revealed the full box contents. In it you'll get the Kinect Sensor, the headset, the new controller, a "4K-rated HDMI cable", the manual, power cable and... the Xbox One console in "liquid black".
White versions of the console have been spotted but they're apparently only for Microsoft employees. Nonetheless rumours abound that a white version could make an appearance in 2014…
Xbox One design
Instant reaction on social media compared the Xbox One to an old VCR or worse, a house brick. Regardless, we think the no-nonsense, solid design, is an improvement on the Xbox 360.
The thought process behind the controversial design is down to managing the unit's heat reduction, with Microsoft wary of incurring another "Red ring of death" fiasco by having the console overheat. The Xbox One is said to be extremely quiet too, a relief for those who sat through the vacuum-like noises from early 360 consoles.
The PS4 and Xbox One look suprisingly similar, though arguably the Xbox one looks a little boxy and lacking in flair compared to the slimmer and more interesting PS4.
Talking of the Playstation 4, the main difference between the two on the face of it is price: the Xbox One is £80 more expensive, albeit it does comes bundled with the Microsoft Kinect.
Xbox One Kinect and Controller
Microsoft positioned the Kinect sensor as an intrinsic part of the Xbox One – however, announcements made since the initial reveal have asserted that this will no longer be the case. While early rhetoric focused on Kinect working in-sync with the console, you can now use the Xbox One without powering up Kinect.
Despite that comedown, Microsoft still considers the peripheral to be a vital part of the Xbox experience and "have no plans" for launching a version of the Xbox One without Kinect. Regardless, the scale of its integration should mean Microsoft has drastically improved the performance of the sensor this time around.
The addition of a full HD 1080p camera and completely new software certainly suggests that's the case. The new Kinect can now keep track of up to six people's skeletons at the same time. A nifty feature is Kinect's biometric sign-in, logging you in through recognising your voice and skeleton.
And there's more. A recent leak of a Brazilian Xbox One manual reports that Kinect 2.0 lets you sit closer to the sensor than you could do with the original. According to the document players should stand at least 1.4 metres (4.6 feet) away from the device. A reduction of 0.4 metres (1.4 feet).
That should allow Kinect to work better in tighter spaces although it remains to be seen if it will. Kinect can also track your heart rate by looking at your face, act as a microphone for Skype conversations, detect two people talking at the same time, scan QR codes and will remain in sleep mode to receive voice commands.
Voice commands appear to work very well, with lag reduced to a bare minimum. Through voice commands (each one begins by addressing the console with "Xbox"), you can make a custom homescreen that will have all your content available for quick and easy access.
Games can be paused (you don't need to exit), allowing you to flick through different apps. If you do decide to re-join the game, it will be waiting for you in the exact same place you left it.
In terms of communication Kinect seems to work well with Skype, the sensor's microphone will lock in on your voice and the 1080p camera can follow you round if you decide to walk around the room.
The new Controller for the One is quite similar to the current controller, which is no bad thing. Microsoft claims that over 40 improvements have been made to the new one however and it is considerably lighter with no bulky battery pack.
The new Xbox One controller price looks set to be around £44.99. The Xbox One Chat headset is £19.99 and allows up to 8 players to chat at the same time, much like the current iteration. The new Play and Charge kit is £19.99. Unlike Nintendo's Wii U Xbox 360 peripherals will not work with the Xbox One.
Anyone looking to use a third-party headset with the Xbox One will have to wait until 2014. Microsoft confirmed that headphone adapter has been pushed back to Q1 2014 due to it not being ready for the November launch.
The design has been subtlety updated, with a shiny plastic “X” button sat back between the joysticks, which themselves have a new matte wrap which looks the part and aids grip. This, along with the d-pad, has been redesigned for maximum comfort and control. We shall see.
Compared with the 360 controller it looks to be slightly bigger but also slimmer, thanks to the integrated battery compartment. The triggers have been designed to produce feedback for users and are said to be more precise than their 360 counterparts, with the deadzone in the twin analogue sticks said to have been almost entirely eliminated.
Xbox One: SmartGlass and Friends
Microsoft’s SmartGlass app will be along for the ride and is separate from the version on the 360. It's free to download on Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS and Android devices with the console able to sync up to 16 devices.
The SmartGlass app is intended to be an extension of the Xbox experience. It can function as your Xbox dashboard when you're not playing, providing access to your profile, friends list, achievements, messages and video clips.
We don't expect any retail Xbox One games to be available through it (a la PS Vita), but there are other ways you can manage your progress in a game. You can set up matchmaking sessions while you're playing, with the app capable of following your progress in a game and doling out gameplay tips.
Another feature which may be of interest is the ability to search the Xbox catalog and pin content while you're away from the console. This means that when you sign back into the console your customised content will be ready and waiting for you.
Performance through SmartGlass should be much better on the One as a result of the Xbox using W-Fi Direct, removing the need to 'talk' to the the console through a wireless router.
Microsoft has also announced a partnership with Twitch TV, allowing you to instantly live-stream your gameplay to other devices and people.
The platform is embedded within the Xbox One, allowing you to share video of your gameplay exploits direct from your Xbox. YouTube is currently a huge platform for gamers to share videos, so Microsoft is clearly hoping to take a chunk of this action.
Unfortunately you'll have to wait for this functionality to be embedded into the console. The app has been delayed and will not be available until "the first half of 2014."
Microsoft have also demonstrated the social media aspect of the Xbox One with a walkthrough of the Friends app. The limit on the amount of friends you can have is now 1000, up from the 360's 100.
User profiles will showcase their friends, followers, reputation, videos they've uploaded and any recent activity. You can follow a user even if they're not friends with you, much like how Twitter currently works.
An interesting feature of the new app will be the ability to spot what game your friend is playing and be able to join in on their current gaming session, so long as you own the game too, of course.
Xbox One: Intelligent TV and Apps
Microsoft has said the new Xbox will deliver “truly intelligent TV”. They've also confirmed the first wave of entertainment apps that will launch with the console. They are 4oD, Lovefilm, Netflix, blinkbox, Crackle, Demand 5, Eurosport, Machinima, TED, Twitch, Muzu TV and Wuaki.TV.
BBC iPlayer has not been given a date although we expect that to be coming to the platform. Sky's Now TV was scheduled to go live at launch but has been pushed back to Summer 2014. Third-party apps will work alongside Microsoft's with the Xbox Music streaming service central to Microsoft's content offering.
Each Xbox One will come pre-loaded with the following apps: Xbox Fitness, Xbox Video, Xbox Music, Internet Explorer, Skype, SkyDrive and Upload. Access to these apps will depend on whether you're on the Xbox Live Gold subscription.
Microsoft was bullish about Live TV at the Xbox One launch, and has secured a deal with the NFL in America to integrate live American football with a whole host of interactive functionality in to the Xbox experience.
Could Sky step-in and offer a similar feature in the UK? If so then it won't be available this uear with Microsoft aiming for a 2014 UK launch for the OneGuide feature.
It's clear that Microsoft sees live TV and enhanced interactivity as key features of the new Xbox, which it hopes will be much more than just a games console for more and more users.
Microsoft has also stepped up its commitment to producing original TV content for the Xbox One. A highlight of the reveal was the news that Steven Spielberg would be producing a TV series based on the Halo franchise. Recent reports have revealed that another show, titled Every Street United, will be a 30-minute episode about undiscovered football players.
Each episode takes place in a variety of different locales (U.S., Spain, Ghana, Holland, France, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea), with the finale thought to culminate at the 2014 FIFA World Cup
Xbox One games
Games, the lifeblood of new consoles, have been at the heart of most of the controversy surrounding the Xbox One. 51 games will be released during the console's initial launch window including console exclusives like Titanfall and Forza Motorsport 5, as well as mlulti-platform games such as Assassin's Creed: Black Flag and FIFA 14.
There are two ways to obtain them: you can buy them in store on a Blu-ray disc (and insert it once and save the game to the 500GB hard drive) or you can download them from the Xbox Live online store.
MORE: Microsoft backtracks on Xbox One DRM
More contentious than the inclusion of Kinect was Microsoft's insistence that your Xbox One connected to the internet once every 24 hours to check in.
Thankfully, this – plus the issue of selling-on second-hand games and sharing games with others – has been revoked by Microsoft, who performed an astonishing back-track on the Xbox One DRM issue, a change we reported first exclusively on whathifi.com.
Prices of Xbox One games have been announced and despite the jump in console generations, prices would appear to have remained static. Pricing on the Microsoft store indicates that a £49.99 RRP will be standard, similar to prices for the current generation. Prices of third-party titles have yet to be confirmed but are likely to be sold for the same price.
Much to the disappointment of Xbox 360 owners, there will be no backwards compatibility. A pain if you’ve spent money on games only to have to re-buy them, especially with big name releases set to cost in excess of £50. That said, the Xbox 360 struggled to get most of the original Xbox's library on the console so it's no great surprise.
So while they'll be no backwards compatibility, there is some relief if you're looking to upgrade a game you've bought on the 360. Some publishers/retailers are offering a scheme whereby if you've purchased the game on the 360, you can trade and upgrade to the next-gen version of the game for a small fee. This only translates to new games with simultaneous 360/One releases.
Elsewhere, Xbox Live has also been completely revamped, streamlined and tweaked. The service previously used Xbox Live points, this will also now change to your local currency AKA real money.
As before, Microsoft has confirmed that you will need an Xbox Live Gold membership, an monthly/annual subscription, in order to access many features such as Netflix, Skype and web browsing.
In a new development, all household members can share Gold membership features and content. Called Home Gold, this means that only one account is needed to access some apps/features locked behind the paywall.
Digital sharing will also be in effect, with the ability to buy content remotely also carried over from the 360 but, in a neat turn of events, content bought remotely will be instantly unlocked at home, so anyone at home will be able to start watching/playing straight away.
In addition, perks from a Gold account will stay with you if you take your profile across to a friend's console. if your friend is a Silver (free) member, they'll be able to partake in multiplayer gaming so long as you're signed in. Once you've logged out, Gold priviledges for the other player will vanish.
Some apps and features will still be tied into a Gold subscription with multiplayer, Internet Explorer, OneGuide for TV, matchmaking system SmartMatch and the console's DVR features all locked behind the Gold paywall.
However, in something of a u-turn on previous policy, Microsoft did confirm that free-to-play sandbox game Project Spark will not require a subscription to play on any of the Xbox platforms or Windows 8 PCs.
Of course along with a new Xbox comes new gaming exclusives, and amongst others, big games at launch include Battlefield 4, which will run at 60 frames per second (fps), plus Dead Rising 3, Forza 5, Halo and Minecraft. Ubisoft's Watch Dogs was recently delayed from November until an early 2014 release date.
Xbox One release date and price
The Xbox one has a confirmed release date of November 2013, just in time for Christmas. But if you’ve already saved up, it is still available for pre-order now, though Amazon has already sold out its pre-order quote of "Day One" Xbox One consoles at the time of writing.
If you were to pre-order the console right now (or any time after the August 14th), you will not be allocated a "Day One" version of the console. Instead you'll be given the Standard edition of the console which is not guaranteed to reach you by the console's launch.
So far there are two "Day One" editions of the console (FIFA 14 and Forza Motorsport 5), with Microsoft teaming up with EA to announce that anyone who pre-orders will receive a digital copy of Fifa 14 at no extra cost. Xbox users will also receive exclusive legendary player packs in the massively popular Fifa 14 Ultimate Team online game.
The caveat? The offer is only available while stocks last.
The basic Xbox One package starts at £429, £85 more than the PS4. This may seem expensive compared to the Xbox 360, which you can now buy a 4GB version for an almost ridiculous £99 along with some fantastically cheap games. That said, this price is the same as the Xbox 360 cost when it was released eight years ago...
Xbox One or PS4? It's probably too early to call, though on price the PS4 has drawn first blood. We're sure there will be many more twists and turns before we see the two consoles in the wild later this year...
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by Joe Cox