Your new running shoes have WiFi, but there are still -- still! -- no flying cars. We've got mini-supercomputers in our pockets, but where's the kitchen machine that materializes beef bourguignon? It's not quite the future we predicted, at least as far as Back to the Future 2 and The Jetsons informed us, but it's the future we've got. Something as basic as, say, turning on electronics using your voice is still novel. Microsoft's Xbox One is representative of just such a novelty, pairing old tech like IR and HDMI passthrough with brand-new 1080p video capture and voice control -- all to impressive effect. When you turn on your Xbox One and TV in one fell "Xbox: On!" grandpa's gonna be wowed, as will little Suzie. Guaranteed. The deeply integrated fantasy sports and ESPN apps will no doubt get pigskin-obsessed Aunt Linda interested.
But it's not the expensive camera and sports partnerships that makes Microsoft's proposition impressive to the hardcore gaming faithful. The Xbox One is a beast of a games console, capable of running beautiful games. But can it serve two masters? It's not quite the game box we would've predicted, but it's the one we've got.