Xbox, set (at last) to take over your living room

Microsoft's keynote was the hot ticket this morning at the E3 Expo, and the company didn't disappoint. While a few had held out hopes for a hardware surprise (the company dominated last year's event with the Kinect motion controller), no such thing was forthcoming from Redmond. Still, the company further extended the promise and possibilites of the Xbox's not-so-little corner of the gaming/TV/lifestyle universe, with a host of software-driven refinements to the Kinect's functionality and the long-awaited announcement of XBox Live TV - Microsoft aims to make their box a full-fledged, controller-free entertainment hub.

Lots of new family-friendly titles were on offer; otherwise the accent was on Kinect integration, with enhanced voice recognition, face-and-body scanning, and customization of avatars for just about everything in the Xbox universe via Kinect Fun Labs.

On the TV front, as Microsoft exec VP Mark Whitten put it, the idea is to get the tech out of the viewer's way, with voice search and control (via Bing integration) on the menu here as well. Offerings launching this fall will include live television (with providers to be named later - deals are no doubt still in the works) as well as YouTube, joining the already onboard Netflix and Hulu Plus.

If nothing else, all of the jumping around's going to make you a much healthier couch potato. And that's not a bad outcome.

- Michael Berk

 

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