Xbox One: The one Xbox to rule them all

Games, TV, streaming video -- the Xbox One does it all as Microsoft's PC for the living room. Whether that's a good thing isn't so clear

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A sign that the One may conquer America's living rooms is, perversely, that gamers are not particularly excited by it. An online survey by IGN revealed that three out of four thought the One announcement was a yawner. The One won't play old Xbox 360 games or use existing controllers either. Clearly teens and 20-somethings are not the target market for this Xbox -- you and I are.

Slate's Farhad Manjoo has declared the Xbox One as the fulfillment of Steve's dream -- Jobs, that is, not Ballmer.

Today, I saw something very close to Steve Jobs' dream device. Just like he envisioned, this machine turns itself into the hub of your living room. It plays video games, Blu-ray discs, TV shows, and everything you could possibly want from the Internet. It switches between this stuff seamlessly--you can forget about the Input button. And it does indeed have the simplest user interface imaginable, an eerily accurate voice recognition system that is far more intuitive than a remote control....

Microsoft has done what Apple has long been rumored to do. It has created a near-perfect living room machine, one that has the potential to finally make it simple for you to watch or play anything you want, from anywhere, very quickly.

If that doesn't get the Apple fanboys frothing at the mouth, I don't know what will.

Where your Windows and Office dollars went

In short, the Xbox One capitalizes on the billions of dollars Microsoft has poured into R&D on user interfaces in a way Windows and Office never have. And that's why I say it's the future of home computing. Because people don't want to type, touch, or click; they want to talk to their computers like on "Star Trek." They want to wave stuff in and out of view like Tom Cruise in "Minority Report." They want the future we were promised 50 years ago.

But that future has some dark clouds hanging over it, as Abine Technology's Sarah Downey points out. The ability to automatically recognize your face means that Microsoft, its partners, and its advertisers will know exactly who's sitting in front of the screen at all times. That means they'll know what you like to play, watch, and do, and they'll tailor their marketing accordingly. Because the One relies heavily on cloud processing and storage, you may have fewer privacy rights in regard to what you store online and how the feds can access it.

These aren't unsolvable problems, but they're things we should all be thinking about before we step into the brave new world of our living rooms.

Would you buy an Xbox One? Why or why not? Post your thoughts below or email me:

This article, "Xbox One: The one Xbox to rule them all," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe toCringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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