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Cable Technology Feature Article

August 12, 2014

Microsoft Gets TV-licious with Xbox One Upgrades

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Ahead of its Gamescom event this week, Microsoft (News - Alert) unveiled a passel of new features for the Xbox One gaming console, about half of them with a decidedly TV-centric bent.

First and foremost in the video arena is a planned Media Player – A new app will be available soon that enables users to play media files from either an attached USB device or from a network connected home media server that supports DLNA protocols.

The preview version of the Media Player app will initially only support USB devices, but DLNA support is “coming soon,” the company said; plus, Xbox One will support more formats than Xbox 360, including support for dozens of new file formats like mpeg 2 TS, animated gifs and mkv which will be added by the end of the year.

Microsoft also said that the previously announced Xbox One Digital TV Tuner will enter a limited preview program in Europe (U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Spain), in advance of its retail launch beginning in October. The accessory will offer over-the-air digital terrestrial TV access through the USB single tuner, an alternative to accessing TV content from a cable or satellite set-top box connected through the HDMI-In port. The tuner will also support free-to-air DVB-T, DVB-T2 and DVB-C television standards.

Also, Xbox One owners will be able to stream their TV across their home network to their smartphones and tablets using the Xbox SmartGlass app. They can also pause, play and rewind as well as change channels, without interrupting gameplay on the Xbox One. This will work for SmartGlass apps on Windows, iOS and Android (News - Alert), the company said—and will also first launching in markets receiving the Xbox Digital TV Tuner.

And finally, a live TV mini guide for markets where OneGuide is available will display details about the TV content that is currently playing on the bottom of the screen. Users can quickly change channels and see what’s on other channels, while still watching TV.

Starting in the early access program later this month, new social features are debuting as well. A new “Friends” section will enable users to see at a glance what’s going on with their friends, the most popular games their friends are playing, and a Gamerscore leaderboard to see who has improved their Gamerscore over the last 30 days.

The Snap Center will offer messages, friends, parties, and achievements, and threaded messages will keep gamers in their games while they multitask. The new Messages app features threaded messages with the full conversation history – including embedded links to Game DVR clips – that can be viewed without interrupting gameplay.

All of the features are rolling out in general availability to Xbox One owners at different stages in the coming months, and the Xbox One is gearing up to launch in 29 new markets in the coming weeks.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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