Xbox Launch in Canada Combines Live TV, Top Games, Colossal Console, Special Storefront

By: Lee Rickwood

November 9, 2013

Microsoft has always said that its Xbox was about more than just gaming.

And now, in its newest iteration, the platform is boasting some great features to underscore that statement.

So I am not a gamer (you will have to wait for Ted Kritsonis and Gadjo Sevilla,  co-writers and contributors here at WhatsYourTech, and check out more knowledgeable evaluation and comparison pieces later this month) but I am a TV watcher, and it is the new TV and video viewing features in Xbox that could make me an owner.

Ginat Xbox console shown in Vancouver parking lot

A huge, larger-than-life Xbox One (and not a few zombies) appeared in downtown Vancouver to kick off the new console’s Canadian launch. As well, a two-floor, 5,000-sq. ft. venue in downtown Toronto is now the first dedicated Xbox One store, where you can go hands-on – or voice-up – with the new Xbox One and some of its gaming titles for the first time in Canada.

I wouldn’t have to juggle remote controls, punch source buttons or change screens to get the video entertainment I’m looking for, be it from cable TV, video streaming services or other entertainment apps: the new console features an HDMI Pass Thru connection, so compatible devices can be plugged in and their signal passed through the Xbox directly to the TV.

Or perhaps its the new console’s (Xbox One ships on November 22nd, and features, functions and apps for the console come on or after that date) Blu-ray DVD compatibility that will convince me.

With the new apps that are coming to make the existing DVD drive compatible with either Blu-ray DVD or audio CD playback, the new Xbox has significant new capabilities of interest to demanding cinephiles or audiophiles.

If your own media collection isn’t big enough, Xbox One provides access to some movie and media collections that are way larger.

In Canada, you will be able to access content from the libraries of popular streaming service Netflix, the CinemaNow service, MUZU-TV with its music video collection, and others.

What’s more, Microsoft’s Canadian content partners include Rogers Anyplace TV and Sportsnet, so live TV, pro sports (there’s also The NFL on Xbox One) and other TV content not normally accessible on a game console will now be available.

Other content providers on the new Xbox include Crackle, Mashinima and Twitch, along with what could become one of my favourite channels, TED (it offers up engaging and informative lectures and presentations from the thought-leaders like Jeremy Rifkin, Jesse Schell and JK Rowlands among many others who speak at TED, the annual technology, entertainment and design conference).

Now, it’s not going to be available in Canada right out of the gate, but Microsoft Canada does say that the new Xbox OneGuide will launch in Canada eventually.

It’s a personalized and customized TV listing service, or EPG (Electronic Program Guide), which will interface with your TV provider’s listing service. The program listings information that comes from your cable provider can be navigated within the OneGuide interface, and it will let you search and store your favourite TV channels and entertainment app channels on one screen.

Xbox One Guide screen capture shows TV listings

The new Xbox One TV listings feature, call OneGuide, will launch in Canada eventually, bringing a personalized and customized TV listing service, or EPG (Electronic Program Guide), that will interface with your TV provider’s listing service.

No matter the app, game, TV show or Xbox feature you want, all you have to do is ask.

The new Xbox Kinect (it still a separate box now, not integrated into the gaming console itself) interface is greatly enhanced, with high resolution audio and video sensors and an Infra Red blaster, so a simple voice command will turn on your Xbox One, your TV, your set-top box and your AV system.

To keep all this media sorted out on-screen, the new Xbox lets you ‘snap’ two experiences together and take advantage of a ‘second-screen, multi-tasking’ kind of experience: you can play a game while you watch TV or listen to Xbox Music.

Xbox One arrives in stores on November 22. The Xbox One retails for $499, which includes the console, an Xbox One controller, the Kinect sensor for Xbox One and Xbox One Chat Headset.

Sitting in the new Xbox One store in downtown Toronto, Craig Flannagan, Director of Marketing, Xbox, Microsoft Canada, calls the related events part of the biggest launch, in terms of money spent and scale of the promotion, Microsoft has ever done in Canada. “This is far and away the biggest, maybe the biggest thing done in Canada for [the games] industry. We’re really excited about this launch, because of all that can be done in Xbox One. It has the best exclusive games, the best multiplayer experience and service and great entertainment. And it’s really great that we can bring in entertainment, music, movies, live TV, sports and more.”

The new Microsoft Xbox One console, controller and Kinect sensor is shown

Not only does the new Xbox One “talk to” your HDMI-enabled TV, set-top box or AV receiver, you can talk to the Xbox and switch from live TV viewing to game playing with the sound of your voice, without having to switch TV inputs.




 submitted by Lee Rickwood



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