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Xbox One will work with UK TV 'in a variety of ways'

The Xbox One will be able to control your TV "in a variety of ways" here in the UK, Microsoft marketing boss Harvey Eagle has promised.

The Xbox One will be able to control your TV "in a variety of ways" here in the UK, Microsoft marketing boss Harvey Eagle has promised, according to games expert (and former CNET-ter) Guy Cocker.

Microsoft's presentation of the new console last night was heavily focused not on games but on how the sharp black box will be the centre of your living room. It'll take your TV channels and overlay the Xbox interface on it, so you never have to change the input on your telly.

It also lets you change channel by shouting at your Kinect -- "Watch ESPN," said Xbox boss Yusuf Mehdi in the demo last night, and lo the Xbox did appear to change the TV feed to the US sportscaster.

The Xbox One does that by taking an HDMI input from your set-top box and sending commands back over the same cable. That should, in theory, be compatible with boxes from Sky and Virgin. Another of the "ways" Eagle refers to is an infrared blaster to control older equipment, such as Freeview boxes.

It's not clear if it'll be compatible with the Freeview tuner built into most TVs here in the UK. It's possible it may not be supported at launch, but added later. Whether the One will be able to record that feed to its 500GB hard drive, or whether it will be able to access video you've recorded on your Sky box is still unknown.

"Our goal is to enable live TV through Xbox One in every way that it is delivered throughout the world," Microsoft says in its FAQ on the freshly launched console, "whether that's television service providers, over the air or over the Internet, or HDMI-in via a set top box (as is the case with many providers in the US).

"The delivery of TV is complex and we are working through the many technologies and policies around the world to make live TV available where Xbox One is available."

It doesn't have long. The new console will be on sale "later this year", which I take to mean before the end of November in the US and definitely before Christmas in the UK, if not at the same time. Microsoft promises more info at the gargantuan E3 show next month, where it will be competing head to head with Sony's PlayStation 4 for the first time.

Our US sister site CNET.com has an extensive hands-on with the Xbox One here. Would you use voice controls to switch channel? Is changing inputs a colossal pain you'll be delighted to ditch? Tell me down in the comments or over on our next-gen Facebook page.

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