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Next Xbox rumors point to HDMI passthrough and cable TV integration

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While the world waits to find out the facts about Microsoft's next videogame console, new rumors have popped up suggesting what its plans to go all-in on the Xbox-as-media center concept entail. According to The Verge, multiple unnamed sources suggest the plan is to include an HDMI passthrough and guide overlay, similar to the method used by Google TV. There's no word on any possible IR blaster (or IR GamePad, Wii U-style) integration, but thanks to Microsoft's partnerships with cable TV providers, it's trying to provide integration that goes a "step further" than what we've seen so far. That includes Kinect control, with next generation hardware that can recognize when viewers have turned their heads away and pause video automatically, with additional features rolling out after launch. There's no confirmation of controversial always-on requirements for gaming, but it will apparently need to be logged on for streaming (of course) and controlling incoming TV signals.

A collection of rumors posted on Kotaku includes references to an "XTV", and a LinkedIn post that connects tagging of video to the project, similar to Shazam or IntoNow's features. Also dug up on various job profiles are mentions of a "cloud-driven, voice-optimized experience" and the next generation of SmartGlass.

Microsoft had great success with an evolving media approach to its console business with the Xbox 360 -- apps and original content are in, with Mediaroom and Media Center pushed to the side -- and even if these rumors are true, we wouldn't be surprised if what exists in a few years ends up changing just as much. Still, given the (lack of) response to Google's overlays and gesture control integrated by Samsung, LG and others, it will be interesting to see if a similar approach attached to an Xbox finds different results.

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