Here it is – the Xbox One: powerful unit, a remodelled controller and souped-up Kinect peripheral

AT LAST, Microsoft has thrown its hat in the next-gen ring with the unveiling of the slightly oddly-named

Xbox One – the follow-up to the hugely successful XBox 360 console and, clearly, something that the company very much sees as a home entertainment hub, in addition to being a pretty powerful games console.

It’s a position that it was certainly pushing for with the 360, but the One appears to be a much more aggressive push into the home-entertainment sector, and could indeed be well positioned as an all-in-one entertainment solution.

As a quick overview, suffice it to say that, as with the equally impressive PlayStation 4, the One has plenty of oomph under the bonnet (and, inevitably, both consoles outperform each other in different ways, techwise, making their choice a case of oranges or apples).

Rather than dig down into the One’s technical specs – most of which would fly like a frisbee over the heads of many readers – there are a number of points that caught my eye, and many others.

For starters, there’s now a significant Cloud element involved in the tech – whereby data is stored or retrieved externally, as required, rather than necessarily being stored locally, on the unit itself.

The Kinect camera peripheral has been beefed up considerably, with its use expanded to integrate better into the whole home entertainment hub sector that, logically, Microsoft is pushing towards.

Slightly controversially, Kinect must always be attached for the One to work, which won’t please many old-skool gamers who didn’t warm to the Kinect first time round.

Alas, it’s been made clear that 360 games won’t be compatible with the One, due to their different innards, so hardcore gamers will probably dash out to buy a cheap, but new, 360 “legacy” console to hoard and play their 360 games on long into the future (while noting that, on the other hand, any movies, music etc can transfer over).

Of course, there’re the games, too, to consider, with a number of well-known franchises and a wealth of publishers and developers working away on launchday titles, with platform exclusives to set alongside a number of multiplatform  big hitters.

At this stage, that’s more or less it, as there’s no specific release date other than that it’s due out later this year, or pricing (which is likely to see weak sales in Ireland, given the recession).

Still, following on from the WiiU firing the opening salvo in the next-gen battle, it’s good to see the Xbox One has been unveiled at last, bringing the promise of even more great games, and technology, ever closer.