Microsoft still isn't talking about the successor to the Xbox 360, but that's not stopping the grapevine from speculating about the new features it will offer.
The company received a patent late last year for a device that would serve as both a game console and a digital video recorder — and that has people wondering if the next Xbox will have an even bigger role in the living room.
The patent, which was granted on Dec. 27, describes the device as one that will let owners record programming while they play a game. And while television shows are certainly included in the mix, they'd also be able to record their game, both local and online.
DVRs and consoles have long been discussed as a dream tandem project by gamers. Sony, in fact, has already added that capability to PlayStation 3s via its PlayTV peripheral (which was released in Europe, but never offered for sale in the U.S.) Talk of Microsoft adding the functionality goes as far back as 2007, when Bill Gates was expected to discuss it at his CES keynote. (He didn't.)
As the Xbox 360 has evolved into more of a home entertainment device, though, a DVR makes more sense. The inclusion of live television streaming, in particular, seems a natural fit — and Microsoft is almost certainly going to carry that forward to the next generation. There's also persistent talk that the company is planning to offer its own original content.
Conan O'Brien considered moving his show to the Xbox before deciding to go with TBS, and Microsoft has discussed a channel with former News Corp. president Peter Chernin that would air both original and television content.
Of course, this could also simply be a patent the company never plans to implement, as so many patents turn out to be, but as speculation continues to grow over the next-generation Xbox (and with an announcement likely coming at some point this year), expect onlookers to keep looking for clues to the features of that device.
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