Microsoft To Beef Up Xbox One TV Features

Dave Zatz —  August 13, 2014


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.

6 responses to Microsoft To Beef Up Xbox One TV Features

  1. I don’t care about any of that stuff. LiveTV and trick play, woo, welcome to 1999. DLNA, welcome to 2004.

    What I *do* care about is that they’ve promised to allow the Plex app. That will allow the $400 Xbone to match the $99 amazon fireTV for home media streaming. Plus, you know, real games.

  2. I wish they’d update when apps like HBOGo, EPIX, and Encore Play will be out. All we keep hearing is “they’re planned/in the works.” Starz launched Starz Play but not Encore Play (yet). HBOGo was announced back with the Xbox One launch but we’re still waiting…

  3. I don’t understand why the HDMI pass-thru couldn’t be shared. Say if it wasn’t encrypted. Sling certainly does this. Even if all it let me do was remote the control of the TiVo but not the actual viewing of videos, I’d still be down with it–it would let me initiate transfers of shows from the PC in the L/R since I can’t do this with TiVo Mini’s. Or simply schedule things remotely or whatever when the wife asks me to set up something and I’m away from home. All things I can do with a Sling, just one less box. Why not?

  4. DLNA is not a big deal, but DRM’d DLNA would be a huge deal, since the HDHomeRun Prime can stream DRM’d DLNA, or they are working on it. Last I heard only the PS3 can handle it now(or was the only thing that was going to handle it, I didn’t keep up)

  5. rob, yeah it reinforces how versatile the little, inexpensive Roku remains after all these years.

    Glenn, Sling sort of does this. They’re skirting a grey area with HDMI licensing and attempt to stay in the clear by honoring HDCP – which adds complexity in requiring both component and HDMI cables or just passing non-protected stuff via HDMI. But Sling also has a dedicated transcoding chip and has moves far fewer Slingbox 500s than Xbox Ones probably sell per month. I’d say there are better pathways from both technical and uh political perspectives.

  6. Both Xbone and PS4 have h.264 hardware encoders onboard capable of encoding 1080p in realtime. That’s how they stream to twitch, etc. So, not a hardware blocker.