While Microsoft has seemingly abandoned Windows Media Center, they’re clearly not done with television.
First, the company has announced an Xbox One USB television tuner for European markets that will run about 30 bucks, when it launches this fall. Beyond basic OTA tuning and the requisite One Guide integration, Microsoft also kindly provides a 30 minute buffer to pause, rewind, and advance. Even better and just announced yesterday, the Xbox One will stream this television content to devices around the home:
- Stream TV to SmartGlass – launching first in markets receiving the Xbox Digital TV Tuner, Xbox One owners will be able to stream their TV across their home network to their smartphones and tablets using the Xbox SmartGlass app. They can also pause, play and rewind as well as change channels, without interrupting gameplay on the Xbox One. This will work for SmartGlass apps on Windows, iOS, and Android.
So, no US support off the bat. However, Microsoft leaves the door open… for something. Given various technical and policy-related considerations, I doubt they’d ever beam our source set-top content that the Xbox One currently passes-thru via HDMI. However, it’s quite conceivable we’ll see our very own North American ATSC tuner accessory. Who knows, perhaps they’re even working with a Ceton or Silicon Dust to support an external CableCARD tuner. And, with such a humongo hard drive, DVR capabilities could even be on the roadmap. Not that I’d bet on either, given the complexity in relation to possibly limited market interest.
Also, on the Xbone TV front, is something my wife will be quite happy to hear given her frustrations in futzing with the unwieldy Xbox One interface to pull up our TiVo:
- Boot to TV – Now Xbox One owners will be able to set their console to boot directly to television when coming out of connected standby.
Last, but surely not least, later this year Microsoft will support additional local video options:
- Media Player – a new app will be available soon that enables users to play media files from either an attached USB device or from a network connected home media server that supports DLNA protocols. Xbox One will support more formats than Xbox 360, including support for dozens of new file formats like mpeg 2 TS, animated gifs and mkv which will be added by the end of the year.