It is another momentous day for Microsoft as the Xbox One S officially goes on sale. The Xbox One S is the successor to the original Xbox One and features a multitude of updates. It’s sleeker, slimmer, sharper but is it worth buying?
The Xbox One S is a stepping stone between the original Xbox One and the Xbox Scorpio that is due for release in 2017. The Xbox One S (slim) has been introduced to help Microsoft cater to the evolving 4K and VR markets, whilst addressing some of the (minor) design flaws the original unit shipped with.
Xbox One S Overview:
The Xbox One S is smaller than the original, a whopping 40 percent smaller to be exact. The S comes with an integrated power pack, Infrared Blaster, new wireless controller and slightly higher performing software.
The One S will allow for 4K streaming and gaming complete with HDR (High Dynamic Range) integration, as well as shipping with up to 2 Terabytes of storage. On paper the Xbox One S is Microsoft's most advanced console yet and a no brainer for first time buyers, but for those who already own an Xbox One, is it worth trading up?
40 percent smaller
One of the biggest complaints about the original Xbox One was its bulky size. The Xbox One S however, is noticeably smaller; the 90s VCR look has been replaced by an all new compact design presented in white.
The reduced size means that the Xbox One S can now be stood vertically (stand included) showcasing even more space saving ingenuity from the Xbox team.
Verdict: The new Xbox One S looks great, a real sleek machine that has the style of a true market leader. As far as aesthetics go, it is a thousand times better than the original.
Integrated power pack
That’s right, Microsoft have somehow managed to house that monstrous power brick inside the new models casing. Without the use of magic, I cannot see how this has been done but boy does it save on space. Even with the internal power pack tucked inside the smaller shell the Xbox One S does not huff and puff to keep the heat down. It is actually noticeably quieter than the original.
Verdict: A real space saver and with the updated cooling system incorporated into the unit to help keep the pack and the internals cool, there is less chance of overheating.
The new Xbox One S comes with a new infrared system that links your Xbox to all your other Microsoft devices including tablets. This new mechanic allows you to switch control between your console and your TV much easier and negates the need for associated apps.
Verdict: A funky new feature that can allow for faster immersion into all your favourite app but something that the original can do already (for the most part).
New Wireless controller
The Xbox One S comes with an all new wireless controller that has been ergonomically designed to fit into your hands better. The thumb sticks have been reinforced to allow for longer gameplay sessions without erosion and a new Bluetooth system lets you play games on Windows 10 PCs.
Verdict: The new controllers feel somewhat cheaper than the original and, as far as ergonomics go, the original design remains pretty comfortable. The difference is minimal and the Bluetooth integration is something that can be countered with the use of a cable.
4K is an output level of definition that is four times greater than that of standard HD. The Xbox One S can output 4K gameplay with compatible software. It will not convert non 4K games into 4K. The same goes for 4K streaming: The One S will stream 4K shows but, again, only with compatible output. These stipulations are inclusive of TV monitors too, so you will have to check if your TV is capable of 4K output before considering purchasing an Xbox One S.
Apps like Netflix and Amazon are 4K compatible, with more to follow in future updates.
Verdict: Unless you are a hardcore streamer with a 4K TV then this is not a vital purchase. If you do not have the relevant compatibility then you will get no upscale from the original. However, 4K blue-ray players are currently retailing around $400, so if you were thinking of grabbing a 4K player then you might as well go for an Xbox One S.
What is HDR and why does it matter?
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and basically allows for a higher contrast level between light and dark colours. This means that, in theory, the games you play on the Xbox One S will play at a higher level of fidelity than they do on the original Xbox One. By this I mean, more detailed texture to the individual colour bases.
Verdict: This increase in fidelity will be barely noticeable in most games currently available on the Xbox One (S) and will not necessarily provide you with a better gaming experience.
Ok, so, I am not going to baffle you with a load of techie acronyms with numbers attached to them. Microsoft have categorically said that they will not be selling the Xbox One S as a faster machine. Except for the fact that it is.
When we open up the Xbox One S we see why. As it turns out, the internals are almost exactly the same. However, the chip inside the Xbox One S is 33 percent smaller than that of the original and, as well as the ESRAM, has been overclocked (from 853MH to 914MH).
This means that the Xbox One S will be running -- on average -- 7.1 percent faster than the original. The S, despite claims originally being refuted by Microsoft, will indeed run a little faster and a little smoother than the original. By this I mean that in some instances the Xbox One S will suffer less from in-game tearing and drops in framerate, allowing developers a little extra processing power with the use of the HDR and increased RAM.
Verdict: The Xbox One S does run games consistently faster than the original console. But the differences are very slight that most will not notice. Microsoft is right to not advertise this as a faster machine as the difference is so minor. It does get you consistently closer to 30/60 FPS and will deliver a richer gaming experience within some games but overall, you are best to stick with the original.
If you do not own an Xbox One already and are considering buying one, the S is a smart entry console. If you are not willing to wait for the Scorpio then absolutely the Xbox One S is worth thinking about if you have considered the other factors involved above, especially regarding 4K compatibility.
The Xbox One S comes in three variants; the 500 GB model retailing for $300, the 1TB model retailing for $350 and the 2TB model which retails for $400.
Verdict: The original Xbox One retails with both 500GB and 1TB storage for cheaper with multiple external hard drive options available to you. I will say, however, that the Xbox One S is priced relatively competitively, so if you are planning on buying an S model then go for the 2TB unit.
The Xbox One S does not ship with a Kinect, but if you have a Kinect from an original Xbox One then Microsoft say that you are eligible for a free USB adapter. The One S still supports all the same Kinect feature, it just does not come stock.
Verdict: You will miss your Kinect, no matter how much you think you don’t use it. If you do upgrade, keep your Kinect or grab a new one for around $40. They do a lot more than you think.
The Xbox One S has an Easter Egg
There is a laser etched engraving of the original Xbox hero hidden inside the Xbox One S.
Verdict: Buy, Buy, Buy!
Microsoft have moved a few features around. The standby button on the front has been replaced by an old school push button – saving on (the many) accidental shutdowns players encountered. The controller sync button has been moved to the front as well as the single USB port.
The Xbox One S is a must buy for those of you that do not currently own an Xbox. If you already own an Xbox One then you are best to stick with your current unit, unless of course you really want that 4K, HDR support.
If you just want to play Xbox One games and do not care about the 4K and HDR compatibility and currently do not own either the One or the One S then I would genuinely recommend the original Xbox One.
The Xbox One S is not the game changer that many of you may have been hoping for, for that you will have to wait for Microsoft’s Project Scorpio. The Scorpio is looking like a true generational shift in gaming tech and is certainly worth holding out for. Scorpio is slated for release late 2017.
I will say that overall the Xbox One S is the most comprehensive Xbox yet and is certainly worthy of acclaim. In essence it is what the original should have been three years ago. This sleek machine is a sophisticated console that offers up some truly awesome features – if all the other factors are in place, of course.
I love my original Xbox One, it hasn’t put a foot wrong, but that 4K is tempting.
The thing you must bear in mind is that true 4K gaming is just around the corner with the Xbox Scorpio. If you've already got a current gen gaming machine, I think it's worth the wait.