Xbox DVR-feature might let you record your greatest gaming moments (and TV, too)

Last month, Microsoft brought live TV to its Xbox 360 gaming console (at least for FiOS users) but, in my house at least, it hasn't made a huge difference. Aside from an initial test we haven't touched the service. Why? Because we're dedicated time-shifters at chez Smith. We're one of those horrible families who eat dinner in front of the TV, so we're always watching last night's prime time viewing during today's dinner hour. Essentially without DVR functionality, TV on the Xbox is useless to us.

But it sounds like there's hope! Gaming blog Kotaku pointed out a new Microsoft patent filing from December 27th, 2011. The patent is for "Recording media on game consoles" and the abstract says:

An integrated gaming and media experience is disclosed, including recording of content on a gaming console. A digital video recorder (DVR) application running alongside a television client component allows users to record media content on the gaming console. The DVR application also integrates itself with the console menu. Once integrated, users can record media content while playing games. Alternatively, users can record content when the gaming console is turned off. The recorded content can include television programming, gaming experience (whether local or online), music, DVDs, and so on. When in the recording state, users can also switch between various other media modes, whether gaming, television, and so on.

Kotaku suggests this has something to do with Microsoft's next gaming console, rumored to be coming in 2013 or possibly 2014. Kotaku may be right but I wouldn't be surprised to learn Microsoft is planning some kind of add-on device for the current Xbox 360. Their Kinect Sensor shows that they're comfortable with add-ons and a DVR add-on for the Xbox 360 wouldn't be a huge technological leap. I envision it as basically a pass-through box with a big fat hard drive.

Now we already have a DVR so even with such a device I don't know that I'd be watching a lot of TV through the Xbox, but what does sound fun is having an easy-to-use system for recording gameplay. Microsoft would be crazy if they didn't build social into such a device, creating an online repository for sharing gaming clips with your friends (if they were feeling amiable they'd just allow uploads to YouTube but this seems like a great opportunity to get gamers off Google-owned YouTube and onto a Microsoft-owned service). The device would be recording continuously, and when something spectacular happens in a game, you hit your Xbox button to pause the game and then can rewind the last 5 minutes or so, and if it still looks cool, save it and share it with friends. (If you've used streaming game service OnLive, I'm thinking of an Xbox feature very similar to OnLive's Brag Clips.)

This is just a patent, not a product announcement, and really it isn't a startlingly original idea. But I'd still love to see Microsoft move forward on this. Heck, if they made it a stand-alone pass-through device they could have it work with both the current Xbox 360 and the next gen system!

Surely I'm not the only one who misses having an easy way to share screenshots and video clips from my console games? Why should PC gamers have all the fun?

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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