(NEW YORK) -- Sony got a head start on Microsoft in the video game rush, releasing its Playstation 4 last week. But on Friday, the new era of the gaming console war heated up as Microsoft's Xbox One hit store shelves for $499.99.
The new gaming system is $100 more than the PlayStation 4, but like its competitor, the Xbox One has a completely new set of hardware specifications. The console is powered by an eight-core processor, 8GB of memory, has a 500GB hard drive and a Blu-ray player, all in a freshly designed sleek new black box.
Along with that box, though, comes a new Kinect camera and sensor, which allows users to become the controller. Unlike the current Xbox 360, the Kinect will be included with every Xbox One. The new Kinect has a 1080p wide-angle camera and an improved sensor that can detect slight rotations of your wrist or shoulder.
The Kinect also allows you to control the main interface of the system with gestures; for example, you can wave your hand to move through menus. But the Kinect is only one of the advanced controllers for the One.
One of the standout hardware features might be the microphone on the box. Microsoft has included new advanced voice control and commands. Say "Xbox, Go Home" aloud and it will return to the home screen of the system. You can also say "Snap Internet Explorer" and you can bring up the browser and place it next to a game, similar to how you can snap windows next to each other in Windows 8.
Xbox's popular handheld controller has not undergone a major design overhaul, but there are several tweaks that will help it interact with Kinect via Wi-Fi Direct, keeping track of where you are playing in the room and how you are moving your controller around. The controller also features a redesigned directional pad that facilitates more responsive and accurate inputs.
There is one last way to control the system -- with your tablet or phone. Using Microsoft's Smartglass technology, you can swipe through the interface on the TV right from your personal device.
Beyond using a tablet to navigate, the Xbox One is an extension of the tablet. In addition to bringing over some Windows 8-like functionality, it has integrated Skype right into Xbox, complete with video calling. There is also new app functionality. For instance, an ESPN app will alert you to your fantasy player stats while playing a game.
But beyond all that, the Xbox is trying to be the new TV platform. The One will connect to your cable box, bring in your TV listings and provide personalized suggestions.
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