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HolidayBuyer's Guide

BBC iPlayer arrives on the Xbox today for free, bringing some nifty motion and voice control to Auntie's catch-up service via Microsoft's Kinect sensor bar. I've had the chance to play with the app already, so click through the pictures above to go eyes-on, and read downward to find out what you can do with it.

Controlling the iPlayer interface by waving your paws around works reasonably well. Mischievous rival humans milling around in the background will make the controls less accurate, but that's true of using Kinect in general.

Hover your arm-controlled cursor over an icon for a moment to select it. If you want to skip through a programme, you can use the cursor to 'grab' the playback slider dot and drag it across the screen to your desired point. Swipe your arm downward once you've found it and the stream will skip to that bit.

Not bad, but even more appealing than lifting your arms to control the iPlayer app is barking commands at your telly like a seal that wants to watch Eastenders.

Unlike a lot of voice-operated tech, yelling instructions at Kinect to control iPlayer seems to be quite effective, so long as the room you're in isn't too noisy. Simply say "Xbox" to bring up your voice control options.

Impressively, you can recite the name of TV shows on screen to select them. Uttering "HD on" sets the stream to play in high quality. "Fast forward" is another useful command, which you can follow up with a clearly intoned "faster!" if it's not shifting quickly enough for your liking. Doing it this way won't save any time over using the controller, but it delivers a satisfying futuristic thrill.

The app itself is well presented. The only downsides are that there's no option to download rather than stream programmes and there's currently no radio shows to be found -- though I've been told radio will be added later this year.

The happiest news for Xbox owners is that the iPlayer app is free, so you can install and enjoy it even if you're not splashing out on an Xbox Live Gold account. That's great news for Xbox Live Free members -- until now there's been little to amuse those who don't feel like forking over cash.

If you go check your Xbox dashboard now, there's every chance you'll find the app there already. If not, it should appear in the next day or two.

Are you impressed with the app? Let me know in the comments, or over on our Facebook wall.

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The BBC iPlayer app works with the Kinect sensor.
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You can see yourself in Kinect-o-vision in the bottom-right corner.
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Select options on screen by waving your hand. Thankfully, the app supports HD.
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You can control the app using your voice. Start by saying "Xbox" then bark further commands.
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Impressively, you can say the name of the TV show to select it.
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The app should be appearing on your Xbox 360 consoles in the next few days.
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