Whew, we haven’t had a next Xbox rumour for at least two days. I bet you were beginning to worry that Microsoft had just canned their entire console business or something. Good thing we’ve got three new rumours to remind us that there’s this thing called a next-gen Xbox that seems to be getting everyone and their dog up in arms about permanent connectivity, lack of backwards compatibility and the fact that a deluxe edition with built-in dishwasher still hasn’t been revealed.

First up we’ve got a new rumour about something called the “Xbox Mini”. According to information obtained by website VGLeaks, the Xbox Mini is a small version of the current Xbox 360 but it doesn’t have an optical drive. This is supposed to be Microsoft’s answer to Apple TV. The Xbox Mini is allegedly a standalone device that will include a suite of media streaming options for your TV. It’ll also be able to access Xbox LIVE, which means you’ll be able to play downloadable games (XBLA and Games on Demand titles) on the Xbox Mini. Apparently your previous digital purchases will be available to re-download at no cost.

That’s not all: apparently the Xbox Mini will be able to connect to the next-gen Xbox in order to provide backwards compatibility. With the Xbox Mini plugged into your next-gen Xbox, you’ll be able to play your disc-based Xbox 360 games in your next-gen Xbox’s optical drive. This paints a rather different picture when compared to previous rumours that suggested no backwards compatibility at all.

As for the whole “always online” rumours that have dominated much of the speculation concerning Microsoft’s next console, this apparently refers to the Xbox Mini. In order to have streamed media content, it obviously has to be online all the time. If this is the case, then it’s believed that the next-gen Xbox won’t, in fact, require a permanent Internet connection.

Website The Verge has obtained further information regarding Kinect 2.0, which is now supposedly powerful enough to track eye movement. Suggested practical applications of this include Kinect automatically pausing content the moment your eyes shift from the screen. It’s also been reiterated that the compulsory peripheral will be able to count the amount of people in the room, adding credence to the terrifying rumour that Microsoft could start charging per head for streamed media.

Don’t forget: RUMOURS RUMOURS RUUUUUMOURSS! So don’t worry/cry/wail/shriek until we have actual facts.

Sources: VGLeaks & The Verge

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