Leaked XBOX 720 Document Provides Console Details

 

Gaming journalists walked away from E3 2012 feeling starved of information about new consoles, so its no surprise that everyone jumped on today’s big story: a 56-page document leak that, if genuine, provides all the details on Microsoft’s as-yet unnamed successor to the XBOX 360. Though its authenticity is still debatable, the document disappeared from Scribd.com at the behest of Covington & Burling, LLC — a firm of big-time entertainment lawyers. Where there’s smoke, as the saying goes, there’s fire.

Abetted by a number of goofy “artist’s renderings” the material (dating, it seems to 2010), lays out Microsoft’s grand plan for the XBOX franchise, from now until 2015. It’s certainly ambitious; outlets like Ars Technica and Gamasutra have suggested that the document is more of a wishlist than an actual product description.

 

Nevertheless, there are some tantalizing prospects. As can be seen in the image above, the “Xbox 720″ is slated to launch Holiday 2013, and retail for $299. According to the leak, it will offer full 3D support, 1080p output, and Blu-ray playback. Data will be stored on both flash memory and an internal hard drive.

A persistent internet connection, paired with a “low-power” mode, will enable consumers to use the 720 as a substitute DVR. By combining this feature with existing XBOX 360 TV apps, Microsoft hopes to make the 720 an all-in-one entertainment tool that will sit conspicuously alone on your TV stand. The release of Windows 8 will facilitate connections and shared content between PC’s, Windows Phones, and new the console.

 

The technical specifications pictured above (click to expand) paint a tantalizing picture of a multi-core behemoth. In contrast to past consoles, however, the 720 is “designed to be scalable in frequency/number of cores,” thanks in part to a “modular design,” which will “facilitate SKU updates later in lifecycle.” In layman’s terms, this means you’ll get to choose between configurations to suit your price-point, and eventually upgrade the console as it begins to lag behind competing PC hardware. All this will be obviated, however, by Microsoft’s grand plan: By 2015, the company hopes to be able to stream game content seamlessly between a number of devices.

The 720 will be bundled with a new version of the Kinect, which, in addition to higher accuracy, stereo imaging, improved voice recognition, an improved camera, and dedicated hardware processing, will also be able to track four players at once. Microsoft Engineers are also hoping to get rid of the “ten feet away from the TV” requirement which currently makes playing Kinect in my living room impossible.

 

Perhaps the most exciting feature revealed in the leaked document is “Project Fortaleza,” augmented reality glasses that — if you believe the marketing hype — will change gaming, nay reality entirely. When the peripheral becomes available in 2014, mankind will finally be able to achieve “seamless integration of the digital world with the physical world.” Xbox Live will enable to provide “real time information on people, places and objects.” Though they’ll start off in the home, 4G technology will eventually enable people to take their Fortaleza goggles into the wider world, where they will rival Google’s Project Glass in the high-tech, high-fashion, high-chance-of-accidentally-walking-into-an-open-manhole-cover sweepstakes.

Now that all this information is out of the bag, the gaming world is eagerly awaiting Microsoft’s next move. It had better not involve Covington & Burling. Expectations will be high, thanks to the extreme ambition of the document, and the folks in Redmond will be under pressure to deliver.

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