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50 Features

Xbox One: Your definitive guide

By Tamoor Hussain on Wednesday 29th May 2013 at 9:30 AM UTC

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The Xbox One controller
Given the popularity of the 360 controller, Microsoft has decided against making drastic changes to the Xbox One pad. The approach here has been to streamline, making many small adjustments. For example; the directional pad, one of the few sticking points on the Xbox 360 controller, has been rebuilt with a more traditional plus-sign design.

Microsoft says the controller will supposedly feature "over 40 design innovations", though only a few have been made apparent.The most popular innovation so far is the localised feedback features. Shoulder triggers, for example, will rumble individually when a player fires a gun, or if a car veers onto a bumpy off-road. An in-game explosion will result in a rumble beginning from the centre of the pad and spreading out to the fingers.

[ Further reading: Hands-on with the Xbox One pad ]

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The layout has remained faithful to the 360 arrangement, but the stick and button placement is said to have been slightly tightened. The shoulder buttons and triggers are now standing next to each other.

"Everything is clustered together so it's easier to reach," Dallmeyer claimed.

Another obvious change to the controller's form is on its back, with the protruding battery pack now removed. The pad still eats AA batteries (and, presumably, charger packs) but the compartment is now concave instead of convex.

The Xbox guide button now sits at the roof of the controller, instead of at the centre. Gone are the 'start' and 'select' buttons and in their place are two ambiguous replacements. CVG editor Andy Robinson, who went to see the controller, says one of the buttons appears to command what is viewed (the system can switch between TV, games and other apps seamlessly). The other button's function is unknown, though it is likely a TV guide button, or some kind of instant menu system.

At the base of the controller is an expansion port (likely USB) which "allows high-speed data transfer", a Microsoft rep told CVG. There appears to be a micro-USB port at the top of the device, likely used for charging.

It is believed that the Xbox One controller communicates to the system via WiFi Direct, though Microsoft has not confirmed this.

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Kinect 2
Kinect is now a mandatory component of the system, which is required to be plugged in in order for the console to operate.

The camera technology has improved dramatically, now carrying new and significantly improved detection capabilities. The software behind the system can measure muscle positioning as well as weight distribution, meaning it will know how the body is being held and carried, and thus even predict its next position.

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Kinect 2 for Xbox One now responds to specific, individual users. It is claimed that the technology is so advanced it can track the eyes, fingers and even the heartbeats (using the complexion of users' faces) of up to six players at once.

Microsoft said the new Kinect "understands the slightest rotation of a wrist, shift balance, transfer of motion, and when you're exercising it can read your heartbeat". It should be said that promises of this scale were made when the first Kinect was being pitched, with the final result not quite matching Microsoft's intentions, although behind the scenes demonstrations did suggest the company's Kinect 2 claims were accurate.

The new Kinect works "in nearly any lighting condition", Microsoft added, and distinguishes your voice even in a noisy room using advanced noise isolation. In one demonstration attended by CVG, a Microsoft engineer showed that the new Kinect can subtract background lighting from lamps or similar and see players from as close as one metre or less thanks to its improved field of view.

In debug mode the new Kinect tracks, in real-time, the expression ('neutral', 'happy', 'sad') of each player, whether they're engaged with (looking at) the television, whether they're talking and if their mouth is open or closed.

The new Kinect can also track the position of each player's controller - similar to the PlayStation 4's Eye camera and controller light bar - and reposition split-screen multiplayer games when they change position on the couch.

A mixture of gestures and voice commands can allow players to instantly switch between games, the internet, movies, music and other entertainment. The new Kinect camera and in-built speakers also allow for Skype calls to be made.

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