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Christmas Gift Guide

A stereo-inspired design

A new controller, but not too new

The controller/Kinect connection

A smarter Kinect camera

Xbox wants to connect to your cable box

Kinect is a major player

A (hopefully) quieter system

A refined controller

Just call it Xbox

Slots of fun

This generation launches with built-in Wi-Fi

Xbox One launches November 22 in the US

Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have the boxy, sharp-angled look of high-end stereo equipment. The Xbox One, however, is larger, and its footprint includes the Kinect camera by default.
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The new controller has been redesigned but still looks and feels familiar. It includes force feedback triggers, a less clunky battery compartment, and a new directional pad.
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The center "Xbox" button no longer has backlit zones for indicating which player is using it -- Kinect uses a sensor in the controller, plus facial recognition, to figure that out.
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The included Kinect camera logs players in via facial recognition and uses positional audio to figure out who is talking or issuing commands. The new version has a 1080p camera, Skype connectivity, and also sees the Xbox controller, not just body parts. A more advanced camera/sensor system allows for the reading of rotational movement, like swiveling your wrists, which the original Kinect could not process.
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HDMI pass-through is one of the real groundbreaking things about the Xbox One. Your cable TV signal goes into your existing cable box, then out to the Xbox One, then finally to your TV. The Xbox One can then pass the cable TV content, while displaying its own overlay program guide. More importantly, it can switch between game, app, and TV content almost instantly.
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In prerelease demo sessions with the Xbox One, Microsoft has insisted on using voice commands, picked up by the Kinect microphones, nearly exclusively to navigate the system.
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The Xbox 360 had a very loud optical drive and fan, driving some consumers to distraction. The new, larger, box works in plenty of fan vents, and it takes advantage of newer, more power efficient hardware, with hopefully cooler and quieter results.
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The new Xbox One controller has been refined, but the basic control scheme remains the same with a trigger under each forefinger, plus a secondary bumper button on either side.
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Even though the system is called Xbox One, the various logos you'll find on the hardware use the single-word Xbox brand. In our chats with them, Microsoft reps commonly refer to the platform simply as "Xbox," leaving out the longer Xbox One name.
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The biggest advantage the PS3 had over the Xbox 360 was the former's Blu-ray drive. Now both the Xbox One and PS4 will have slot-loading Blu-ray drives, evening out the optical drive playing field. Bonus points if you had the short-lived Xbox 360 external HD-DVD drive.
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The Xbox One console still has an Ethernet jack, even though most consumers will connect via Wi-Fi. It's hard to remember now, but the Xbox 360 originally shipped without Wi-Fi, and a $100 add-on antenna was required. The Xbox One can stream photo, video, or music content via SkyDrive or from a PC on your local network.
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Follow along here for all the latest Xbox One news and reviews (and note that the system launches in the US on November 22).
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