Microsoft Xbox One launches in a cloud of hype

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Calm down people, it's just a piece of black machinery. Some of the hype surrounding the launch of Microsoft's Xbox One console seems to imply that it amounts to a quantum leap in home entertainment. Perhaps all the excitement can be attributed to the fact that Microsoft hasn't offered any new games hardware for eight years and the launch was an elaborate simultaneous event in Seattle and London.

Those expecting to be staggered by the Xbox One's capabilities might have an anticlimax in store and dedicated gamers should prepare to be underwhelmed. They are not the target audience though. Microsoft seem to be pitching the new console at consumers who want a device that will do everything. So the Xbox One will record live TV, play DVDs, Blu-ray HD discs and field your Skype calls. Pretty much the same deal as the average laptop or iPad then?

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As a games console it ticks a few boxes but hardly all. First of all there is the tiresome business of having to buy new content. Xbox 360 games aren't compatible with the Xbox One. Microsoft says yah, boo, cough up stingy, sorry, no, actually Microsoft explained that that the Xbox One is specifically designed for a new generation of games using such gimmicks as Kinect's facial recognition and heart-rate sensor features.

To get the most of the Xbox One, you'll need to be online most of the time. Games are stored in the cloud and Microsoft hopes the console will encourage more real-time competition between friends over an online connection.

The console will be available later in the year, just in time for a Christmas present war with Sony, who are releasing the Playstation 4 around the same time. Early adopters can expect change out of £400 - approximately one pound's worth of change if initial price estimates prove accurate.

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