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Kinect has landed

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The Kinect for Xbox 360 goes on sale in South Africa this week – bringing with it an era of controller-free gaming and entertainment. SEAN BACHER went to the launch last night to check out how ‚hands free’ the Kinect really is.

The Kinect for Xbox 360, along with the Xbox LIVE service, were unveiled in Sandton last night to the applause of media, evangelists and fanatics.

The Kinect sets itself apart from other motion controlled consoles in that it lets people use their entire body to play games and access entertainment. It literally turns their bodies into a 21 sensor wireless remote control.

Says Yvette van Rooyen, product manager for Xbox in South Africa, ‚Users of other motion controlled games usually end up leaving you with either the right or left side of your body being stiff at the end of a night of playing. However, the Kinect will give you a full body work-out, perhaps even rendering that old gym membership worthless.‚

And, in the process, sending a strong signal to Nintendo that it is no longer the only console set-up that rescues gamers from the label of ‚couch potato‚ .

Unlike other motion activated consoles, once set-up and saved, you never have to go through the process of re-configuration. Thanks to the Kinect’s facial recognition, you will be recognised the minute you stand in-front of the screen. No more calibration: just sit down or stand up and play.

Furthermore, the Kinect camera follows you as you move around the room, so you don’t have to stay seated in one place throughout the game. Once the camera is locked onto you and knows who you are, your movements are continually monitored, giving you full wireless freedom. Switching positions with your opponent is no problem either. The minute you switch, so do your on-screen avatars.

When we mention no controllers, we really mean that. In order to start a game or activate an option, you really do wave your hand ‚ sans any electronic device or control. Also, to activate yourself within a game, wave your hand or navigate the menus by moving your arms, and then run, jump, lunge, lean and dance to direct during the game to move your avatar.

‚For us, this is a really big deal,‚ says van Rooyen. ‚With the old ago controllers, many people were sometimes intimidated. However, with no controllers, any member of the family can have fun and not worry about pushing the wrong button. He or she just does what comes naturally, whether it be turn to the left or right, duck, or jump.‚

Kinect transforms entertainment and introduces the Xbox 360 console to millions of new people — families, friends and people of all ages. Sound a little like the Nintendo Wii when it first launched? But this gadget goes a few steps further.

Along with Kinect, Xbox LIVE has also arrived in South Africa. It is an online service that allows Xbox users to play online against people around the world and get access to premium content and services.

Five Microsoft games will be launching with Kinect: Kinectimals, Kinect Adventures, Kinect Sports, Kinect Joyride and Dance Central. In addition, 10 third Party publisher titles will be available. These include Your Shape, EA Active 2, Zumba Fitness, DanceMasters, Adrenalin Misfits, Motion Sports, Sonic Free Riders. And on 19 November, we will see the launch of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1 as a Kinect-ready release.

With an Xbox 360 and broadband internet connection, users can now connect and join LIVE for free to access their personal profiles with Gamerscore, Gamertag, Avatar: access the Xbox LIVE Games Marketplace: and access free game demos. An upgrade to Xbox LIVE Gold membership allows users to play games with their friends online, including great new Kinect titles, or video chat with Video Kinect. It also allows users to receive early access to content and exclusive Gold discounts.

An Xbox LIVE Gold 12-month membership will be available for R599. A 3-month membership will cost R199, with numerous launch specials available.

Pricing:

The Xbox Kinect stand-alone unit will cost R1 999

An Xbox 360 4GB console bundled with the Kinect unit costs R3 699

* Keep an eye on Gadget for our Kinect review.

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