Gamescom is happening in Cologne, Germany this week and Microsoft held a press event to get things rolling. (Sony has no similar event at this show.) Lots of games were shown off of course, and the Xbox One lineup is looking pretty strong, but I was just as excited about a couple of non-game features.
The biggest news is that the Xbox One is getting DVR capabilities for it's OTA (over-the-air) TV tuner. It seems to do pretty much everything you'd want in a DVR. You can set up series recordings, set up a recording remotely, and record TV while playing a game (though I assume you'll only be able to record one channel at a time).
Once your shows are recorded, you can watch them on the Xbox One, of course, but also on any Windows 10 (via the Xbox app) or mobile device (via Smartglass which is available for iOS and Android). If you have a Windows 10 tablet you can even save content locally so you can watch it without having an Internet connection.
In addition to the $60 Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One and an antenna, you'll need an external USB drive to store recordings to, so there's a modest initial outlay of cash required, but after that there are no subscription fees of any kind. Assuming you live somewhere that you can get solid OTA TV reception, this will be a great feature.
The service is supposed to roll out in 2016 "...in select countries where over-the-air TV is available" according to Xbox Wire. I'm hoping that the US is one of those select countries.
Also it's important to note this is only for OTA TV; if you get your TV from a cable subscription, the Xbox One won't be able to replace your DVR, unfortunately.
One of the other interesting announcements was for a $35 Xbox One Chat Pad which clips onto your Xbox One controller. Not only does this give you a backlit, physical keypad for typing messages or character names or whatever, but it includes a 3.5mm headset jack and audio controls. That means it should replace the $25 Headset Adapter that was required with the original Xbox One controllers. Additionally it has a couple of programmable buttons that you can set to carry out frequent tasks, such as saving a screenshot or recording a video clip; both of these actions are currently pretty cumbersome for those who don't have a Kinect (though it seems like this last feature won't be ready when the Chat Pad ships in November but is coming in mid-2016).
November will be a big month for the Xbox One, as that's when backwards compatibility rolls out to everyone (and moving forward, Xbox 360 games offered via Microsoft's Games with Gold service will be backwards compatible), as well as Windows 10 heading to the Xbox One (with apps in tow) and the new Xbox user interface first announced in June. It's going to be almost like getting a brand new console!