The Future of Home Entertainment?

On the 6th December, XBOX launched a whole host of new services. Arriving under the banner of XBOX Live. The plan – to take over the home entertainment market, synchronising all all your viewing requirements in one place.

The XBOX has now become an entertainment hub surpassing all current systems on the market. Not only do you now get a shiny new dashboard from which to choose your required service – you also get voice and hand/gesture activation via the amazing Kinect sensors. The evolution of entertainment has arrived.

This is truly a bold move from Microsoft, its not quite the same scale of technological leap that was seen in the mobile phone market when the first iPhone was launched. Notably Playstation 3 also currently offers a lot and with similar services too but XBOX has kicked things up several notches here.

Over the coming weeks we will reviewing and discussing the new services, their usability, value for money and whether they are a genuine improvement or just another gimmick.

New Dashboard

The new XBOX dashboard will look something like this…


Having never used an XBOX until now, its pretty hard to say what the improvements have been. The new system encompasses all your services in a simple and very slick menu.

Science fiction films have always had a hand in shaping the future of technology. You notice the nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey with the graphics – one of the first films to highlight the future use of video phone calls. The new dashboard can obviously be controlled with the standard XBOX controllers, but now you can also use your voice! But not only your voice… it can also detect your hand movements, so you can move a little hand across the screen to make your selections. Not quite there yet but its another step forward towards the sort of technology commonly seen in films these days, such as Minority Report and Avatar.

New Services

The full range of new services are still being unveiled throughout December and early 2012 but among the first of the new features are new compatibility with LOVEFiLM, Sky Go, Zune Marketplace and Bing Search.

The aim of XBOX is clearly to make the new XBOX 360 the ultimate entertainment companion. I’m not sure how traditional gamers will feel about the new updates, but as a movie fan you can’t go wrong.

Still to look forward to this month are apps from 4oD, Demand 5, Blinkbox and Youtube.

Front Row Reviews will be taking a deeper look at the individual services – so for a more in depth analysis, check our XBOX coverage here.

Kinect – Voice Activation & Hand Gestures

Kinect sensors have been around for a while but now they have stepped up their usefulness. Essentially what you have now is the best remote control in the world! Your own voice. After some initial hiccups, it actually works amazingly well.

To use Kinect voice commands, start by saying the word “XBOX”. Once you say “XBOX”, a microphone appears at the bottom of the screen. It still has some improvements to come i’m sure but for now, it’s a great start. Here are some of the commands that you can use:

It proved very amusing when using in a room of people – not ‘He Who Dares Wins’ – ‘He Who Shouts Loudest Wins’ is more accurate. In essence it became the modern day equivalent of the classic fight over the remote control.

The hand gesture side of the control is not as fun as the voice activation but it is still an awesome feature. Once the initial set up is done and you get a feel for it… you won’t look back!


Try for yourselves!


The full list of new worldwide services is as follows…

6th December:

EPIX. United States
ESPN on Xbox LIVE (ESPN). United States
Hulu. Japan
Hulu Plus. United States
LOVEFiLM. United Kingdom
Netflix. Canada, United States
Premium Play by (MediaSet). Italy
Sky Go (SkyDE). Austria, Germany
Telefónica España – Movistar Imagenio. Spain
TODAY (MSNBC). United States

Later in December:

4 on Demand (C4). United Kingdom
ABC iView (Australian Broadcasting Corp.). Australia
AlloCiné. France (AlloCiné), Germany (Filmstarts), Spain (Sensacine), United Kingdom (Screenrush)
Astral Media’s Disney XD (Astral Media). Canada
blinkbox (blinkbox). United Kingdom
Crackle (Sony Pictures). Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, United States
Dailymotion. Available in 32 countries globally
Demand 5 (Five). United Kingdom
DIGI+ (CANAL+). Spain
GolTV (Mediapro). Spain
iHeartRadio (Clear Channel). United States
Mediathek/ZDF (ZDF). Germany
MSN. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, United Kingdom United States
MUZU.TV. Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
ninemsn. Australia
Real Sports (Maple Leaf Sports). Canada
Rogers On Demand Online (Rogers Media). Canada
SBS ON DEMAND. Australia
TMZ (Warner Bros.). Canada, United States
TVE ( Spain
UFC on Xbox LIVE (UFC). Canada, United States
Verizon FiOS TV. United States
VEVO. Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom, United States
Vudu (Wal-Mart). United States
YouTube. Available in 24 countries globally

Early 2012:

Antena 3 (Antena 3 de Televisión). Spain
BBC (BBC). United Kingdom
CinemaNow (Best Buy). United States
HBO GO (HBO). United States
MLB.TV (MLB Advanced Media). Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States
Telenovelas/Sports (Televisa). Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Italy, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom
Xfinity On Demand (Comcast). United States

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