There’s a common complaint from many people out there today that video games are somehow bad for you. Well Microsoft is looking to prove that the Xbox 360 can change your living room and the connectivity of your home.
I was at the Consumer Electronics Show this past January where one of the major innovations that everyone was focusing on was how to connect innovations within your home. How can my TV let me search the Internet? Can I take what’s on my computer and share it with the devices in my family room? Tons of manufacturers had expensive devices that could accomplish this and different plans for accomplishing this in the future. But this week the Xbox 360 made most of what was showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show obsolete.
The latest update to the extremely popular gaming system instantly turned the Xbox from a gaming machine into the simplest and most complete media center in any home. The new Xbox dashboard now integrates custom apps from featured providers that bring TV shows, social networking, photo sharing and even video conferencing into one device.
This is something TV manufacturers have been longing for and many high end homes have paid thousands upon thousands of dollars to accomplish in the most sophisticated media centers. Now my 7 year old can accomplish all this by picking up a controller. With apps like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, I can browse my social networks and watch virtually any online video through my HD TV in an interface that’s way simpler than what you find through most cable providers or TV-installed widgets. Not only that but the entertainment and video apps that were reserved just for viewing on my iPad can now be enjoyed on the big screen with soon to be released content from SyFy, HBO Go and MLB At-Bat.
Kinect, the motion based sensor add-on to Xbox 360, allows me to video chat with other friends and family on Xbox 360 so my entire family can gather on the couch and talk to our relatives in South Carolina that couldn’t come to visit for the holidays. All this and the ability to connect photos, videos and music from your computer to stream to your Xbox so it can play through your home theater system makes the Xbox 360 the true game changer for any family room.
Oh yeah, and it plays games too.
I truly believe this is just the beginning. Who’s to say you couldn’t use your XBox as a DVR in the near future as some units come with a 250GB hard drive? Are apps to control your home’s lights or security system that outrageous to think of being on a video game console? What about an Xbox version of Internet Explorer to let you browse any site of your choosing and control it with your voice or hand gestures using Kinect? And all of it can be controlled from your phone too…Wait and see. It’s coming.
You’re sure to see more companies join the likes of Netflix, Hulu Plus and even The Today Show, who are jumping on the Xbox 360 app store to get in early on this new platform. So don’t be fooled into thinking the Xbox is merely just a mind numbing device for playing grudge matches of Madden 12 or Call of Duty. It may soon be the central device for your entire home in the not too distant future.
Check out the video below to see some of the new features in action: