Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How the next Xbox can win the cable TV war

If the next Xbox is a home-TV-integrated beast, HDMI-in may not be pretty...but it's probably the best short-term way to get to the future.

CNET - The battle for the future of television is just beginning, but it looks to be a long one. One of the key players is Microsoft, which has spent the past several years morphing its Xbox 360 from a straight-up gaming console into one of the best video-streaming boxes you can buy.

Of course, the current Xbox 360 is getting long in the tooth, and the next-generation model is expected to be announced soon, and to be available as early as the end of 2013. And TV services look to be just as central to the core of that device as gaming.

Last week, The Verge reported that Microsoft plans to enable live TV access on the upcoming console:
The functionality will work by taking a cable box signal and passing it through to the Xbox via HDMI, allowing Microsoft's console to overlay a UI [user interface] and features on top of an existing TV channel or set-top box.
That story would seem to confirm earlier rumors that the next Xbox would have support for live TV input, among other upgraded entertainment options, including Blu-ray.

So, the "Xbox 720" is taking a page from Google TV. But is that wise? Gigaom's Janko Roettgers asks, "Really, Microsoft? Your vision for the future of TV HDMI cable?" He makes some solid points, ending his argument with "HDMI pass-through is the ultimate admission of defeat."