It’s been over two weeks since the last Xbox 720 rumor and that’s way too long, so today, another! Rumors have placed the potential release date for Microsoft’s successor to the Xbox 360 in a range beginning as early as this fall, ending sometime in 2014, but most speculation and “inside sources” seem to agree that the fall of 2013 is when such a release makes the most sense.

With Sony denying everything regarding the PlayStation 4, that leaves the year of 2012 to Nintendo to launch the first next-gen home console. With the Nintendo Wii U’s innovation coming in the form of a tablet-based controller with a built-in touchscreen, how fitting then is it that the latest Xbox 720 rumors having its controller also feature a Wii U-like touchscreen?

The following transcription is from the upcoming March 2012 issue of Xbox World magazine where they claim to have learned some important, revealing bits of information regarding the input devices for the Xbox 720 – and we’re not talking Kinect 2:

“The next Xbox will be a matt-black media hub with a mission to bring games to life in your living room with augmented reality, directional sound, and a four-player finger-tracking Kinect. We told you all that last month. This month, our sources tell us it will have a touchscreen, too.

Microsoft are experimenting with a tablet-like controller with a shape closer to Sony’s sleek Vita handheld / Apple’s iPad than Wii U’s bulky unit — it’s an HD screen surrounded by the traditional 360 buttons and sticks.

On 360 that touchscreen will be second only to Kinect in how you operate your console. It could be a remote control when you’re watching TV, a browser when you’re on the internet, extra buttons and information when playing a game or a portable display when you want to take your game with you.”

Does a Vita/iPad style controller open up the possibility for downloadable mobile games on the Xbox platform? Could such a device run its own Windows Phone type of operation system to be taken on the go? If Nintendo is doing it, expect Sony and Microsoft to do it as well (a la motion controls).

So, let’s add a tablet control to the previous Xbox 720 rumors where the console may ship with Kinect 2 (good), be able to act as a DVR (good), support Blu-rays (good) and block used games (very bad).

Rumors have this summer E3 as a potential launch pad for announcements regarding the PS4, Xbox 720 and 3DS Lite, all alongside the full details of the Nintendo Wii U. With the amount of games coming between now and then, the wait won’t be too long.

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: Xbox World (via Gaming Everything)

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