Microsoft has long said that its goal for the Xbox console is far beyond serving as a gaming system. The company wants the device to become the entertainment hub of your home linking television viewing, streaming, music and games.
The company is adding some features to the device to make TV watching easier. Users in Europe will soon be able to purchase an over-the-air digital TV tuner to add to their device. Cable is not as common overseas as it is in the U.S., so it makes sense to launch there first. But that accessory is something that a lot of U.S. users who have cut the cable and satellite cord might like to get their hands on.
Now if you want to watch over-the-air TV signals, you have to switch from your Xbox to a TV tuner. No word on when or if that device will be available in the United States.
Users with the SmartGlass app installed on their device will now be able to stream their TV anywhere in their home. That includes functions like playing or rewinding and changing channels. If one member of the family is playing a game on the Xbox One another can watch TV on their tablet without interrupting the gameplay.
The Xbox can also be set to boot directly to the television instead of the Xbox menu. There will also be the addition of a live mini TV guide at the bottom of the screen.
A new Media Player app will allow users to play media files from a USB device or their network and add dozens of new file formats like mpeg2 TS, animated gifs and boost the number of compatible formats the Xbox One can handle to three dozen.
The goal of all of these changes if for the Xbox to replace your cable, satellite box or streaming box and become your go-to hub for watching media. But with a $499 price tag with the Kinect, it’s a fairly expensive hub.