The Xbox One’s €29.99/£24.99 TV Tuner is now available, but it’s far from just a glorified channel changer for Microsoft’s console. As we mentioned, it came out only in Europe because many of us across the pond get our TV fix from over-the-air (OTA) digital TV, while most Americans have cable. But it’s opened up a lot of handy new TV watching features on the Xbox and on mobile devices with SmartGlass, too. You can now watch DVB-T, DVB-T2 and DVB-C digital TV, pause, rewind or fast forward live TV, change channels using SmartGlass and even watch TV directly on a mobile device. For a console that wants to be your entertainment hub, that’s a load of pertinent features — to see how it works, read on.
Like everybody else in the French countryside, I have a TV antenna that magically brings me 30-odd digital channels when it’s hooked up to a “décodeur TNT.” So all I had to do is plug the coax cable into the Xbox One’s TV Tuner, and the USB end of the tuner into the Xbox itself. If you have the October Xbox update, it automatically detects the device and then finds all your channels. It then gave me the option of pausing, rewinding and fast-forwarding live TV, in exchange for 4GB of hard disk space. From there, I started watching programs, using the Xbox controller to change channels via the OneGuide, favorites or a pop-up, on-screen menu. Microsoft told me that the Xbox One Media Remote would give similar functionality, and is probably a better choice for non-gaming TV viewers.
One small note: though it can perform limited time-shifting functions, the Xbox One still can’t record live TV programs. I hope Microsoft eventually adds that function, since timeshifting obviously means it’s capable, provided you’re willing to give up some disk space.
Next up: voice control. Yes, once I figured out how to pronounce Xbox in French (eeks-boax), the easiest way to change channels was to shout commands at the Kinect. Rather than a number, you can tell it which channel you want to watch by name, as in “watch Canal+.” If it doesn’t understand, it’ll provide a helpful list of commands. You can also access the OneGuide by voice, or just say something like “Xbox, what’s on Canal+?” and get more info that way, as shown above. (The screens are in French because Microsoft strictly region-locks languages to the country you’re located in, something many gaming ex-pats aren’t thrilled with.)
The best part of the new Xbox One TV Tuner is SmartGlass. The new version of the app brings full control of all TV functions, letting you change channels, view the OneGuide, and even watch live TV directly on your mobile device. Unfortunately, the latter feature is only on iOS and Windows Phone devices for now, and not Android. That said, it worked perfectly on my iPad, with a sharp, clear image, particularly on HD channels. Mobile viewing only works on your local home or work network, and there’s about 3-second delay from live TV due to buffering. Using SmartGlass proved to be the most convenient way to change channels, pause programming, control and view OneGuide and add favorite channels.
So the verdict? The Xbox One TV tuner is a handy way for us Europeans to get rid of our OTA boxes, eliminate a lot of clutter and gain a bunch of extra functionality. Having voice and Smartglass control over your TV viewing is nice, and being able to pause and skip through live TV programs is a huge bonus. The only drawbacks? Microsoft needs to streamline the operation of the system a bit, as certain functions (like flipping channels) are easier with a bog-standard remote. And of course, we strongly hope that Microsoft enables DVR recording at some point. Once that happens, you can look for my existing over-the-air decoder box on eBay.
When the long-awaited Halo: The Master Chief Collection gets released next month, the first thing players will have to do is download what’s estimated to be a 20GB update, according to developer 343 Industries. The day-one patch, which is required to unlock multiplayer features, isn’t particularly shocking when you consider that this a 4-in-1 title — still, that’s asking for a lot of hard drive space from users. “Our philosophy has been to give Halo fans the best possible experience and not compromise the quality or features of the collection,” Dan Ayoub, Halo External Development’s studio head, wrote in a blog post. “The result is that Halo: The Master Chief Collection will take up almost all of the usable space of a single Blu-ray (45 GB).” In addition, Ayoub let it be known that Spartan Ops, a co-op mode for Halo 4, won’t be coming to The Master Chief Collection until December, which will likely disappoint a few fans of the franchise. But, most importantly, how do you feel? Let us know in the comments section.
Vine’s come a long way since its early days, and now it has yet another platform it can shine on: Xbox One. With this new application for Microsoft’s gaming console, released today, users can start watching these six-second (or less) videos on a bigger screen right away. The Vine app on Xbox One comes with an interface that will be familiar to regular fans of the service, featuring Trending Tags, Playlists, Featured Users and other, more-specific categories like Comedy, DIY, Science & Tech and Sports. As Microsoft points out, this marks the fist time Vine has designed a viewing experience with TV in mind — although some people may be disappointed they can’t use Kinect to record Vines and share them directly from Xbox One. Still, let’s not forget it is only the app’s version 1.0. In the meantime, at the very least you have the option host a Vine-looping party, if that’s your sort of thing.
There’s a new game controller in town and Mad Genius hopes you won’t take the news sitting down, because it’s all about motion control and expanding the scope of your game beyond the couch. The Mad Genius Controller, which recently launched on Kickstarter, is offering precision motion control that’s compatible with any game or console. While it works in normal controller mode, its magnetically connected halves can be split to enable motion tracking features. Aiming guns and bows is said be done with 1/100th inch accuracy and it can translate a player’s movement throughout the room to the on-screen character. The device can also be programmed so that certain movements can trigger combos and holster-reaching motions could replace digging into menus to access weapons. Since the Kickstarter is still underway, Mad Genius wanted to prep two lucky Engadget readers for its arrival with a giveaway for two consoles this week. Along with Mad Genius t-shirts, one winner will receive a PS4 Destiny Bundle and the other will get an Xbox One along with Titanfall. To get in on this opportunity, just head on down to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning one of these consoles.
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Plex has more than its share of fans thanks to its powerful and versatile streaming media capabilities. If you’ve got a video file (regardless of how you obtained it) there’s a good chance Plex can play it. And play it anywhere — on your Roku, on your tablet, you smartphone, and now on your Xbox. Starting tomorrow Plex Pass subscribers will be able to pull up their Plex library on their Xbox One. And soon enough Xbox 360 compatibility will be added as well. If you’re not a subscriber you’ll be able to buy the Xbox apps for a one time fee (how much remains to be seen, but probably around $4.99) after the preview period ends. This is also the first time that Plex has been available on a game console, at least as a native app. You could pull in video to your Xbox over DLNA, but this is much easier and cleaner. And yes, you can control your library with voice controls or gestures thanks to Kinect support.
Wherever you look, the PlayStation 4 is outselling the Xbox One by a considerable margin. In fact, Sony sold twice as many consoles in the UK as Microsoft in Destiny’s launch week, leaving its rival with another considerable hill to climb. One way Microsoft could claw back some of its lost market share is to drop the price of the Xbox One, again, which is something it’s decided to do today. To little fanfare, Microsoft slashed £20 off the price of the Kinectless Xbox One on its official store, meaning you’ll now pay only £329.99. Amazon has reacted to the price cut too, but has gone one better by offering Sunset Overdrive White Xbox One bundle pre-orders for the exactly the same price. It means that in the space of 10 months, the console has undergone three price reductions, saving late-adopters at least £100 in the process. For the time being, the Xbox One is officially cheaper than the £349.99 PlayStation 4 (which is also the subject of some seriously good deals), but as both consoles have already dipped below the £300 mark, we’re pretty sure Sony won’t be too worried by today’s discount.
If yesterday was Microsoft’s day for announcing big news (read: a $2.5 billion acquisition), today is the day it moves on to less pressing topics. The company’s hardware team just unveiled a few new accessories, including a wired Xbox One controller for PC gaming, and a portable Bluetooth keyboard that can pair with three different devices at once. Starting with the controller, this is basically the same one that already ships with the Xbox. In fact, because it comes with a battery pack in the box, you could use it wirelessly with the Xbone, in case you need a second controller. Heck, even the price is the same, at $60. The only difference? It includes a USB cable, allowing you to use it with a Windows PC. Unfortunately, for now, at least, the controller can’t be used wirelessly with a PC. Then again, the last-gen Xbox 360 controller started as wired-only, but later got a dongle, allowing you to use it wirelessly. So maybe Microsoft will follow a similar timetable with the Xbone controller.
Moving on, the Universal Mobile Keyboard ($70) uses Bluetooth to pair with up to three devices. It’ll work with any operating system — not just Windows — but you can only pair with one gadget per OS at a time. Of note: The keyboard portion is detachable, meaning you could leave the tablet propped up in the built-in stand and put the keyboard on your lap. In my hands-on, I found the small buttons surprisingly easy to type on, save for the tiny Delete key. All told, too, the stand is sturdy enough to support some fairly big devices, including the 12-inch Samsung Galaxy Note Pro. Basically, you can use it with any tablet so long as it’s not too thick. That means an iPad with no Smart Cover is OK, but an older-gen Surface Pro probably won’t fit. Finally, Microsoft is also re-releasing its foldable Arc Touch Mouse, except this time it’ll come in gray and won’t have any Surface branding on it. It will still cost $70.
All of the above go on sale this fall, in time for the holiday shopping season, with the keyboard and mouse arriving in October and the controller landing sometime in November. Because no: It is not too early to start thinking about stocking stuffers.
Great news next-gen (well, guess that would be “current-gen” now, wouldn’t it) console owners — you’ll be able to snag Grand Theft Auto V for either the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One on November 18th. Along with the usual slew of graphical improvements, the enhanced version of GTA will feature new weapons, vehicles, activities and mani interesting furry animals. Not to mention new songs, denser traffic and a completely new foliage system! PC players will get all the same perks, but they’ll sadly have to wait until January 27th of 2015 to get their hands on it. On the plus side, if you already own GTA V for Xbox 360 or PS3 you can easily transfer your character.
Filed under: Gaming
Microsoft has been working hard to make Xbox One SmartGlass more useful and appealing for users, and it’s doing a great job so far. The most recent update to the app, however, may just be its best yet. Most notably, you can now record Xbox One game clips directly from the SmartGlass application, making the process easier for gamers who, for example, have a Kinect-less console. In addition to that, you can use the app to view your profile’s activity feed, post status updates on it and share stuff that pops up there. New TV and OneGuide features are here as well, although those had been available previously in beta on some devices. Speaking of which, perhaps the nicest part of this refresh is that Microsoft is doing it across the board — the revamped Xbox One SmartGlass is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
- Larry Hryb (@majornelson) August 28, 2014
The Xbox One SmartGlass Beta companion app has received an update that should prove to be some what exciting for some. It is important to note that Xbox One SmartGlass companion is a different app entirely than the beta version. The beta version requires you to be part of the Xbox One’s dashboard preview program before hand. The new additions to the second screen app will bring in some live TV streaming from your Xbox One to your mobile device. You will also be able to record game clips and be able to boot the console to television playback while it is in standby.
The full list of new additions is as follows:
Share and post activity feed items
Post status updates to your activity feed
See your activity feed on your profile
Display messages in a new conversations view
Record game clips
In-app display of release and feature notes
Expanding to new markets
TV and OneGuide available in new markets
As for the bad news, there is some, at least for most of the world. The live TV streaming feature is only available in select European markets where they are previewing its new digital TV tuner accessory.
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