Hands-on with Microsoft's SmartGlass [video]
Microsoft's Xbox SmartGlass announcement yesterday provided a shot of adrenaline in the aging leg of the Xbox 360. While Kinect was a way to extend the life of the console for a couple of years during the motion control craze, SmartGlass is a further push to open the console to unique gameplay elements in the future, and to advance the "settopboxification" of the Xbox 360 console.
This is a good thing.
A running gag among many Xbox 360 owners is that the console has aged into the NetfliXbox. The demonstration of SmartGlass we saw doesn't do anything to really change that joke, but it does show that the new secondary display information and control options afforded by SmartGlass can really expand the movie-watching experience. It's just up to developers to build this "augmented active media experience" into their apps.
What we're potentially looking at is an era of secondary information displays in entertainment technology, which started by Nintendo eight years ago with the DS, and has been upheld by countless end users who couldn't watch TV without their iPad in their lap.
But the question is: Will SmartGlass out-Wii the Wii U?
The fact that SmartGlass will work on Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone and Windows 8 tablets, while Wii U will only work with the Wii Gamepad might give you a hint who has the upper hand this round.