This awful slogan was terminated before launch, but the narrative remained: Xbox One is an "all in one" device. Rather than a games console, Microsoft positioned their new system as a total entertainment solution, a one-stop-shop for all of your digital content, services, television and media.
It wasn't. They lied. However, a year after it launched, the Xbox One finally has the right to call itself "all in one" thanks to the massive sweeping changes in the October firmware update last week. Admittedly we took this functionality for granted on the PS3 and Xbox 360, but the addition of DLNA media streaming and media centre extender functionality has turned Microsoft's console into the lounge commander it was born to be. One device capable of pulling all of your media onto your television, acting much like a home theatre PC alongside its console duties.
If you own an Xbox One and aren't already using this feature, you probably should be. Over the next few paragraphs I'm going to explain how to set it up and why it's important.
Regular readers will know that I've been bitching about the lack of in-home media streaming ever since the Xbox One released. The hypocrisy of saying that a device was "all in one," yet wouldn't allow you to connect to your own PCs and stream your own photos, music and videos to your television, was utterly outrageous. Seeing as the Xbox 360 does it. The PS3 does it. Hell, even the OUYA can with the right apps!
Now, thankfully, things are seriously looking up thanks to last week's firmware update. Just in case you're not sure how to do it and didn't look it up at the time, here's how to get started.
1: Go to Windows Media Player on your PC, click the "Stream" button and then "automatically allow devices to play my media." It's right here in the screenshot.
2: Download the "Media Player Preview" app from Xbox Live. Kinect owners can easily Bing it, or find it in under the App store section.
3: That's pretty much it.
No, really. Once you've grabbed the app, run it, at which point it will automatically detect your media centre PC and allow you to remotely browse all of your content. Once you've chosen a picture to view, video to watch or piece of music to play, then go for it. USB and .mkv playback is also ready for action.
Better yet, you can snap the app, allowing you to listen to streamed custom soundtracks while you play. Neat. Playing Sunset Overdrive with a Blues Brothers backing is really rather wonderful.
It's worth noting that the Media Player Preview app feels every inch the "preview" build. It has all the right functionality, but could use a few interface tweaks and extra features, feeling a bit rough and ready. Looking to the future, Microsoft will hopefully unify all of the hopelessly bitty separate apps used for music, video, Blu-Ray and other basic services into a a single entertainment centre, especially now that Kinect's effortless voice navigation is a luxury rather than a core part of the user experience.
So DLNA streaming is here, and it's a nice convenient quality-of-life feature to have, but it's also an important step for the new-gen consoles. Both machines launched with limited access to content we already own, attempting to force us onto the likes of Xbox Music or Sony's Unlimited service, alongside third-party partners.This change is yet another clear step in the right direction for Microsoft, and one step closer to realising that being "all in one" means giving us access to all of our entertainment on our terms, much like the last generation of consoles did. It took the Xbox One long enough, but finally it has the right to use the slogan...
... or at least it will, as soon as iPlayer shows up. But that's an article for another time.