Next Xbox will be a Kinect touting beast
Under-the-radar conversations with an apparent ex-Microsoft employee have shed new light on the plans for the next Xbox platform. They have confirmed speculation that Kinect will play a big part in the next generation strategy. While this is nothing new, we've always had a concern that this built in Kinect hardware would have restricted users placement of their console.
According to our source, this isn't going to be a problem as while the hardware can be attached to the front of the case there will be the option to detach the Kinect camera and place it in a more suitable location. The Kinect hardware itself is getting a meaty upgrade - at least four times more sensitive to full body movements, the current technology being tested by MS is able to track both major and minor limbs - including all your fingers and thumbs. It also uses audio placement technology to aid and augment the visual aspects of Kinect. The new camera has a much wider view allowing the user to employ the technology in smaller rooms.
Our source also rubbishes claims that the new console will be download only, but can't confirm what format we CAN expect the media to be - they suggest that MS are evaluating a number of options from disc based Blu-ray and DVD (as well as a proprietary option to cut down on piracy) to solid state storage (again established and proprietary formats are under consideration). The final decision will be based on performance and cost both to MS in terms of hardware and to the end user. We're told "they don't want users paying any more for their games than they already do, so any physical media will have to be cost effective".
Other than that, the source also confirmed that ATI are providing the graphics hardware and it's likely to be a little more powerful than the current top-end PC cards. We're also told that the consoles physical controller design is still subject of much debate with various options on the table from the conventional dual-analogue option right through to Wii-U-style touchscreen devices.
MS have so far denied that we can expect any new hardware announcement at E3, and given the information above, we believe them - it sounds like there is still plenty to be decided by the powers that be. We might know more later this year, but our money is on a Winter 2013 launch for the next Xbox.