You’ll have to have a Kinect sensor plugged in to use the next Xbox console, codenamed Durango and commonly nicknamed the Xbox 720, according to the latest rumours.
A source said to be SuperDaE, who is believed to have had and tried to sell a Durango development kit last year, told Kotaku he’s now possession of multiple Durango development kits, and that his information also pertains to final retail models.
According to the source’s information, which is apparently gleaned from overview documents, a new, improved version of the Kinect sensor will be bundled with every new console, and is no longer an optional accessory – you’ll have to have it plugged in and calibrated for the console to function.
The new sensor is said to be able to track up to six users at once, and that automatic player identification will be part of gameplay somehow. It will be able to track thumbs, see whether your hand is open or closed, and read facial expressions, and has an improved viewing angle.
Another mandatory new feature is a hard drive; all retail models will come with 500GB of storage, to cater for game installations, required for all titles. Unlike the PlayStation 3’s mandatory installs, the source’s information suggests Durango will be able to install in segments, so you can start playing while the rest of the data is copied over. Apparently, the console cannot access game data directly from the disc at all; it must read off the hard drive.
This seems like a weird limitation, but the console will reportedly have enough RAM to be able to run more than one app at once. Games can be suspended or paused, and you can switch between them and to other apps, apparently without losing anything from either.
As for traditional controls, Microsoft isn’t changing much, the source said, but will use a new wireless technology, so you won’t be able to use your Xbox 360 game pads.
On the SmartGlass front, Durango’s companion app will apparently utilise motion sensing tech in combination with Kinect, so you can use it like a Wii U game Pad.
Kotaku believes it has got its hands on technical specifications for the final retail build of the new console. It reports the custom hardware features an eight core, 64-bit CPU running at 1.6ghz, an 800mhz DirectX 11.x GPU and “custom hardware blocks” for specific tasks, taking the pressure of the CPU.
The system will have built-in WiFi support and an ethernet port, with HDMI and S/PDIF (optical) connections and support for 7.1 channels.
So far, the specs match previous rumours, but Kotaku’s source doesn’t mention ESRAM, saying the system has 8GB of DDR3 and negligible flash memory for system tasks. The disc drive can handle media of up to 50GB, and the HDD read speed is 50 MB per second. The report also mentions stereoscopic 3D at 1080p.
Kotaku’s report agrees with late 2013 release date speculation, and mentions that other sources have confirmed an always-on Internet requirement. It had nothing to say about the console’s final name or look, as dev kits typically ship in PC cases. The site also has images apparently taken from the source’s overview papers.
Sony is expected to unveil its new console at a PlayStation Meeting on February 20. Nobody has any concrete idea when Microsoft might jump to it.