Well it’s official. XBox 360, formerly known as Xenon, will in fact stream HDTV as an extender unit. Although we will probably have to wait until later to hear the “official” word that the MCE 2005 Update will include cable HDTV support, it would appear that all of the pieces are finally coming together for Media Center.
With a high def Media Center and high def XBox Extenders, the digital home is almost a reality.
Although tonight’s MTV XBox 360 unveiling focused primarily on gaming, the XBox is far more exciting as an Extender and this is where I believe Microsoft’s hidden larger picture strategy is to be found. The gaming is just a bonus, and a nice bonus from the eye candy that we saw tonight.
Some of the primary objections to Media Center in the past have been 1. It doesn’t do cable or satellite HDTV (ok, so it’s my biased thinking that’s putting this one first. 2. It’s form factor is, well, (with a few minor exceptional exceptions) an ugly PC. And who wants an ugly PC in their living room. 3. PCs make noise. People don’t want noise when they watch TV and 4. PCs are complicated and scary to the vast majority of mom and pop consumers.
Microsoft’s new strategy will be to sell you a Media Center PC in your home office or den with an XBox Extender in your living room (and your bedroom, and your guest bedroom, and… well you get the idea). People will be perfectly fine with having an XBox in their living room. It’s a stylish, uncomplicated, instant on, quiet device (complete with a DVD player) that is perfect for the living room. Meanwhile, not only will it play your DVDs and gaming in your living room, but it will encourage you to buy a Media Center PC in order to get the rest of the bells and whistles, including that great new HDTV content to play on your fancy new 50″ HDTV plasma that you brought home from Costco last weekend. As people are much more accepting of PCs in their home office or den many of the past objections will be overcome. Brilliant. This time they just might pull it off.
For a complete breakdown on the new XBox 360 check out the XBox 360 fact sheet.
Most significant from the fact sheet is that an XBox 360 will allow you to, “amplify your music, photos, video, and TV. Watch progressive-scan DVD movies right out of the box. Rip music to the XBox 360 hard drive and share your latest digital pictures with friends. Make the connection, and XBox 360 instantly streams the digital media stored on your MP3 player, digital camera, Media Center PC, or any Microsoft® Windows® XP-based PC.”
And like Matt pointed out. It streams high def. Giggle.
Oh, and congratulations Peter and the team at Engadget on getting the early scoop.
So below are some screen shots (taken from my Media Center PC I might add) of tonight’s MTV XBox 360 kick off. It was very fancy, very glitzy, very Hollywood, but don’t all of this fool you. This is Microsoft’s Trojan horse (as in good strategy not bad virus) into your living room. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, yes that’s right, it’s Bill Gates pulling all those levers making all that noise and smoke and didn’t the Killers sound great tonight.
The Official Microsoft XBox Site
Engadget’s Live Coverage
Microsoft’s Official Press Pass story
The San Jose Mercury News
San Jose Mercury News: Xbox’s Leap into the ‘HD Era’
The New York Times
The Washington Post
More photos of the XBox 360 special tonight
Scoble says the special left him wanting more
Chicago Sun Times
San Diego Union Tribune
Detroit Free Press
Digital Lifestyles Magazine
The Los Angeles Times
Seattle Post Intelligencer: ‘Backward compatible’? Company still hasn’t said
Good Morning Silicon Valley
The Videogame Ombudsman
Update: And it didn’t take long for the BitTorrent of the show to poke it’s sleepy little head (in case you missed it). You’ve got to love it when your half hour infomercial is shooting around the peer to peer network. The MTV special may have blurred the the distinction between advertising and content and may have sacrificed technical details for glitz, but it was a very smart marketing move.