While there was a little buzz last week about the emerging next-generation XBox, to be called XBox 360, much of it focused on the industrial design and basic facts like wireless controllers and that there will be an edition with a hard-drive and one without, etc.
What was not talked about broadly was the much more important details on how the XBox is going to help transform digital media distribution on the Internet. While many have lauded the mini-mac as a potential consumer-friendly, possibly living-room friendly device that could also help distribute media, the XBox 360 is smack aimed at this and will rock the consumer world with it's features, functions and price.
Some things to keep in mind about this new consumer set-top box from Microsoft (yes, the XBox is more or less a consumer set-top and entertainment box at this stage than a 'gaming console'):
- It's a powerful HD-capable DVD player
- It's a networked Internet media device that can download and render secure audio and video content from PCs and the Internet (read: it's an alternate path to the TV instead of your cable or satellite box)
- It's a networked PVR, when used as a Media Center Extender (a native feature, some have suggested)
- It's an unbelievable gaming platform
- It's going to be inexpensive
- It's NOT a PC or even attempting to be a PC
We're paying close attention here, as this device will likely be a high-volume set-top box to target Internet media applications against in 2006.