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How Xbox One Works

Television and Streaming Features
A signed Xbox One that was part of Variety's 4th Annual Power of Comedy event benefiting the Noreen Fraser Foundation at Avalon.
A signed Xbox One that was part of Variety's 4th Annual Power of Comedy event benefiting the Noreen Fraser Foundation at Avalon.
©Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Variety

Xbox One allows you to connect your cable or satellite box to the device through the HDMI-in port and watch TV with HDMI Pass-Thru. It essentially passes whatever is output by the HDMI device through to your TV, so you could potentially plug in any HDMI device, provided it's supported. You just have to provide your TV and other devices' model numbers and your cable or satellite provider at initial setup.

The Kinect's IR blaster will actually send out signals to your attached external devices, including your TV, AV system and set-top box, allowing you to change channels and turn up, down or mute your TV's volume, all with voice commands. This means you can watch shows or movies on cable without switching your TV input to another box, and maybe forgo a remote or two. You can also continue to get multiplayer invitations from friends.

Xbox One has a new OneGuide that brings TV listings, favorites and streaming app channels onto one guide screen. The app channels can include any streaming services that opted to develop for the OneGuide. Your favorites can include TV channels, in-app programs or even your own photos and videos from the SkyDrive app (Microsoft's cloud data storage service), so you can create a customized guide of only the things you're likely to view. You can call up the listings for a specific channel and start playing a show or movie by voice command. You can even switch channels by name with commands like, "Xbox, go to the ESPN channel," or "Xbox, watch AMC."

One thing you can't do, unfortunately, is schedule things to record on your DVR, or see what is already scheduled to record. For DVR functions, you have to switch back to your set-top box or other external DVR.

Some streaming apps slated for the new console are Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Redbox Instant, Vudu, Crackle, TED, Machinima, Verizon FiOS TV and Target Ticket. Several networks will also have apps including ESPN, Fox Now, FXNow, Univision Deportes, CWTV and HBO Go. Some might not be available right away, but they should all become available sometime between the launch date and spring 2014.

Streaming channels aren't the only way to view media. You can stream content from your SkyDrive cloud storage account. Anyone with an Xbox account will get 7GB of free storage. You can also stream media from a personal computer running Windows 8 to your Xbox One through the Xbox Video and Xbox Music applications. At launch, you can't play MP3s stored on your Xbox locally, but that feature's in the works.

The Xbox Fitness app will give users access to lots of fitness resources, free for a limited time with your Xbox Live Gold membership. Xbox is also the official game console of the NFL, and the NFL's Xbox One app allows you to access stats, scores, news and video highlights, and Fantasy Football.