With only four days until the launch of the next Xbox, we take a look at some of the rumours still floating around unconfirmed on the web
We're almost there. On Tuesday, 21 May, Microsoft will finally show its hand and unveil the next Xbox. We've heard so far about how it might, or might not be always-online; how a new version of the Kinect will ship alongside it; how you'll be able to record bits of your games and share them online and how, for all intents and purposes, it has the same hardware as the PlayStation 4.
But of course, like everything you're about to read below, this is all speculation. We won't know anything until Tuesday.
While we wait for that however, here's what the internet is predicting the next-Box will do this week.
Remember this? Microsoft was showing the Illumiroom off at CES this year, a projector/television kind of thing which beams the image from your Xbox across an entire room, the idea being to make games more immersive.
But it won't be launching with the new Xbox, apparently. Hrvoje Benko and Brett Jones of Microsoft's R & D division told Engadget recently that despite a pretty complete looking demo in January, the Illumiroom is far from ready, with a public demonstration now slated for the Siggraph conference in July.
Of course, in terms of "immersion" the Illumiroom will be locking horns with the Rift, by Oculus, a VR headset which beams games straight into your eyes and lets you control in-game head movement by physically turning your head. We had a go with it recently and were super impressed. Illumiroom, whenever it surfaces, has its work cut out.
We first got this from The Verge and its "sources familiar with Xbox plans" back in January, who said that the new console would have "Siri-like" voice controls allowing you to turn the console on and off by speaking to it and convert speech to text for messages. Natural language controls would also be worked in, so instead of saying "turn Xbox console on" you could just murmur "hey, can you switch on so I can like, play some games or something?"
We've not heard much else about this since then, but an interesting job ad sprouted up over at Sony Computer Entertainment this week, looking for a summer intern with expertise in voice recognition software. If we knew anything about the two consoles, it's that, in terms of specs, they're pretty much neck and neck; we're not seeing much hardware difference between the next-Box and the PS4.
So maybe, just maybe, you'll be able to talk to your Xbox Infinity, or 720, or Durango, or Fusion or whatever it's going to be called and order it around. If the PlayStation's doing it, then evidence implies the Xbox will too.
Microsoft Points are done for, it seems. It's already been said that they're being dropped in favour of real money, like on the PlayStation Network Store, and now, according to sources speaking once again to The Verge, Microsoft is launching gift cards for the next Xbox as another alternative to Points.
Microsoft has gift cards out already of course, but they can only be redeemed at physical stores. These new ones can be used to make purchases across all of the various Windows marketplaces, including Windows Store, Windows Phone Store and the next Xbox. Makes sense. The Xbox is said to have support for the Windows Store and Phone Store so you can get apps and specially adapted mobile games onto the dashboard. It's also shooting for, ostensibly, a broader church of consumers. Microsoft is consolidating its internet TV service into the console and making the Kinect more tightly integrated, so simplifying the currency system will make the console more usable for customers who may not have owned an Xbox in the past.
And that, actually, is all the new stuff for this week. Considering the constant jet stream of speculation we've had for the past three months, it's little surprise that even sources "familiar" with the Xbox have run out of things to leak. The console's about ready to go and everyone has a good idea of what to expect (if you don't, you can read more rumours here, here and here).
IBTimes UK will be following the Xbox launch live when it kicks off at 6pm on 21 May. Facts, opinion, analysis and probably more rumours will follow. Between now and the end of 2013 when both the PS4 and new Xbox are scheduled to launch, we're bound to see a lot of new info leaking out from the respective companies and we'll be sure to keep you updated.