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Microsoft's Xbox 360 bulks up even more

Early Friday morning, a story made its way over to Engadget detailing the next generation Xbox 360 console. Engadget showed a single image of the I/O ports on the back of console complete with a new HDMI port. The story also noted that Zephyr would feature a cool-running 65 nanometer IBM Xenon PowerPC processor and larger 120GB hard drive. The leaked details of the upgraded hardware on the Xbox 360 have lead to furious debates online spreading to sites like AnandTech, Engadget and Xbox-Scene.

But that is not all that Microsoft has in store for Xbox 360 owners this year. The other half of Microsoft’s grand scheme, a serious Microsoft bid for the IPTV market, was leaked on early Saturday by Dean Takahashi. Takahashi, a blogger for A+E Interactive, has always had excellent access to industry leaders including NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsuan Huang and Microsoft COO Kevin Turner.

Microsoft today confirmed what was earlier reported by Takahashi -- the Xbox 360 will not only serve as a game console, Media Center Extender and a portal for TV show/movie downloads, but it will also serve as an IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) device.

Although Microsoft made no official announcement of providers for IPTV service on the Xbox 360, AT&T already uses Microsoft IPTV software and is likely to jump onboard. And with services like video-on-demand (VOD) and digital video recording likely to be provided, it makes perfect sense that Microsoft would be likely be pushing a larger 120GB hard drive instead of the "paltry" 20GB currently in service.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 currently has the ability of streaming high-definition content through the use of a Windows Media Center PC. IPTV allows users to take advantage of high-definition TV programming over a standard broadband connection without the need for a PC. Microsoft says that the service will roll out later this year.

The addition of IPTV on the Xbox 360 platform would give Microsoft a distinct advantage over its Japanese rivals. Consumers will now having gaming, access to PC multimedia content, online access to music/music videos, downloadable TV shows and movies,  IPTV with PVR and VOD and the option of HD DVD playback with the Xbox 360 HD DVD drive all from a single console. Microsoft is truly attempting to make the Xbox 360 the multimedia centerpiece for your connected home and this may just be the icing on the cake.



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RE: Holy...
By borowki on 1/8/2007 2:02:26 PM , Rating: 2
Don't say jack when you don't know jack. I don't think you even know what IPTV is. Take a look at this Microsoft PowerPoint presentation:

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=27977

Note that in slide 3, it says "Delivery over a closed IP, QOS enabled network." Really, it's pretty obvious that you can't route the data through the Internet if you want quality comparable to cable.


RE: Holy...
By AxemanFU on 1/9/2007 11:50:30 AM , Rating: 2
Amen. The IPTV fiber, or fiber hybrid networks, which already have over a million customers in Europe and a couple of hundred thousand in the US, have more than adequate bandwidth for HD programming using the IP protocols on a DEDICATED network. The IPTV is usually part of the total bandwidth of somethingl like 30-40mbps to each customer. Part is reserved for an HD channel or two, and part is for conventional internet service, and probably part for VOIP, too. The IP data exchanges on the IPTV portion of the network are shunted onto the regular "internet" at a pop location at regional hubs, while the entire IPTV portion remains on a network that is entirely dedicated to video. The bandwidth is massive, and local and regional video server locations ensure the entire network is not burdened with baindwidth requirements. Your video content comes from the nearest node containing the requested programming.

The point is, for effective IPTV, you have to have substantial bandwidth per customer back to the regional or area node that contains the programming servers. Wave division mulitplexing on fibers, and passive optical fiber networks, or networks hybridized with copper or coax for the last couple thousand feet are the only way to get the required bandwidth.

Sadly for the cable companies, they are way behind in getting that type of infrastructure deployed. Cable can do HD, or digital cable, but it is currently crammed into a bunch of analog channels, and is an analog video system for the most part. It cannot do any of the innovative things an IP network will soon be capable of. Neither can a low bandwidth conventional cable or DSL internet connection. You need something on the order of 8-12Mbps sustained for a compressed HD channel with today's tech, and that is to each customer.

Microsoft is looking towards the future in this respect. At some point, the telcos will have large numbers of homes wired for IPTV, and cable will start to catch up as well with the technology, and having a relatively cheap set top box that can play games and video, and get access to large volumes of content extremely quickly will be a big plus for Xbox360 "v2" owners.


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