The latest competition aiming to replace your cable box: Xbox Live. Microsoft is ramping up its online entertainment service starting tomorrow, allowing subscribers to watch a variety of television from their Xbox 360. In addition, rather than the tedious process of using a remote control to search for shows listed on a cable box program guide, Xbox Live users will be able to search with voice commands and hand gestures, if they also have a Kinect. Tomorrow, services that are already available to subscribers—including Netflix and Hulu Plus—will be available via the new retrieval system.
Throughout the month, more programming sources will be added, including Verizon FiOS, Comcast Xfinity, HBO, and Epix, a company that will stream about 3,000 films. But, although you can ditch your cable box, you'll still need to pay cable providers in order to access channels via Xbox Live—plus pay about $60 per year for a Live membership. The development is significant because cable boxes have remained largely unchanged over the past decade; Xbox Live could bring, the New York Times notes, "some 21st-century pizazz" to the living room TV experience of some 35 million subscribers worldwide. (Read more Xbox stories.)