With a report that Microsoft is making an Xbox Surface tablet, one of gaming's classic rumors has reemerged.
This is definitely not the first time we've heard whispers of an Xbox gaming handheld--reports date back to at least 2006 - but this is a time of connected platforms, and Microsoft seems more interested in making its own hardware these days. A 7-inch Xbox tablet from Microsoft makes sense as a way of bridging the gap between Windows and the living room.
Unfortunately, The Verge's report on the so-called Xbox Surface doesn't have many details on what the device would have to offer. In lieu of specifics, here's what I'd like to see in a gaming tablet from Microsoft:
Attachable game controls
If Microsoft releases a gaming tablet with only touch screen controls, it'll have a harder time standing out from existing smaller tablets, such as the iPad Mini and Nexus 7. Those tablets already have big libraries of mobile games, so Microsoft would face an uphill battle establishing its own device as a straightforward. Instead, an Xbox Surface could wow the gamer crowd with attachable controls for high-precision gaming. With the existing Surface's Touch Cover, Microsoft has already shown us that it can concoct clever modular designs, so it's not crazy to think that something similar is possible for a gaming tablet.
Console screen mirroring
Tell me if this sounds familiar: You're deep into some serious multiplayer Halo, but your spouse/significant other/roommate/parent wants to watch America's Got Talent, so off goes the console. If an Xbox tablet offered a way to keep playing on the small screen, perhaps by streaming, everyone could get what they want. While Nintendo's Wii U will offer this functionality for some games, an Xbox tablet with system-wide screen mirroring would be even better.
True cross-platform gaming
A couple years ago, Microsoft showed an impressive demo of a single game playing on the Xbox 360, a PC and a Windows Phone 7 handset, seamlessly resuming the player's progress across all three devices. That dream has never quite materialized for Microsoft; though a handful of games support cross-platform play, gaming on the Xbox, PC and Windows Phone remains mostly segregated. An Xbox tablet could be the missing link, especially if it offers some type of physical gaming controls to support all kinds of small-scale Xbox Live games.
More than just games
The Verge reports that while general functions such as messaging may be supported, the tablet's main focus will be gaming. But the thing is, even the Xbox 360 isn't mainly focused on gaming anymore. It's become a broader entertainment device, with music, video and Internet Explorer. Hopefully, an Xbox tablet would also be about more than just games. If the device doesn't have a way to check e-mail, read e-books and browse the Web, it'll be a harder sell over other tablets.
This story, "Xbox Surface Tablet: 4 things I'd like to see if it's real" was originally published by TechHive.