May 21, 2013 at 2:06 PM ET
The new Xbox One console aims to integrate everything you do in your living room into one seamless experience, with TV, games and the Web equally accessible and controllable from the couch. Between gestures, voice control, and Smart Glass, it's probably the most powerful set-top box out there.
Watching TV isn't always the simplest proposition these days, with multiple controllers and devices between you and your game or live show. The Xbox One makes this easy by using speech recognition. Want to watch TV? Just say: "Xbox, watch TV," and the Kinect hears your voice and responds. Instantly, you're watching — just plain watching TV, no nonsense.
It doesn't stop there, of course. You can say "Watch ESPN," or "Go to music," or a bevy of other phrases. Perhaps most useful is "Show the guide," which brings up a nice channel-by-channel breakdown of what's on right now.
Add in integration of live feedback and information like live fantasy football stats, and it seems like the Xbox TV experience will be among the richest available. A "game DVR" function like that built into the PS4 was also mentioned, but not detailed.
Multitasking will be easy as well; Windows 8 shows its influences on the Xbox One interface with the addition of a "snap view" like that on the desktop OS. Snap in a browser or Skype window and chat or check a game's walkthrough as you play.
If talking to your TV while you play doesn't seem convenient, and you're already using your controller to play the game, you can always use Xbox's Smart Glass app on your phone or tablet to control the channel, check the actors or episode summaries, and so on.
And of course it wouldn't be Xbox without Kinect integration, and there will be universal gestures available throughout Xbox to let you navigate and adjust the volume. Want to go to the home screen to check messages? Spread your arms, then make a motion like you're grabbing and closing an invisible curtain. Want to go back to your game? Open the curtain back up.
What channels and networks will be available weren't announced, but the new Xbox will feature a Blu-ray drive and should work with any ordinary cable TV.
We'll hear more about the Xbox's TV and movie capabilities come E3. For now, read the rest of our Xbox-related news at our main news post here.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.