Having been an early adopter of the original Xbox One that came bundled with the now-defunct Kinect 2.0, I experienced first hand the many woes and bugs for day one users.
Happily, Microsoft has upped its game since the Xbox One launched and it now boasts an intuitive and responsive user interface, something that was painfully lacking for early adopters.
Again I jumped on the bandwagon and put my pre-order in for the 2TB Xbox One S at the very end of the E3 conference.
Now it has arrived I don’t feel nearly as cheated as I did back when my Xbox One 500Gb turned up on my doorstep.
It is worth noting here that a ‘day one’ Xbox cost £500, £150 less than the new system retailing at £350 and with 1.5Tb less storage space.
The Xbox One S, What’s In The Box?
A much sleeker and thinner box than the normal Xbox One, but it is missing the carry handle from the old box, making it harder to pack things up and take away.
It came with its vertical stand (pictured). I already knew that the Xbox One S could operate vertically. However, I was expecting Microsoft to charge us for that luxury, through the guise of an optional accessory. 1Tb is nice to see Microsoft taking some initiative this time around.
Word to the wise here Microsoft do not advise “vertical operation” of the Xbox One, it blocks the cooling vents and can subsequently cause the system to overheat. Because the Xbox One S is a revised design of the first Xbox One, so it’s more than happy to operate vertically.
It’s worth noting though that you can only clip the stand into place on one side, as there are no clips on the other side.
Controller & Bluetooth
The design is more or less the same as the controller that supports the 3.5mm jack; it does, however, offer a new rubberised textured grip on the underside of the controller.
I failed at getting a good picture of the grip, but it is noticeable when holding the controller, no doubt this will help during those long and sweaty sessions. The standout here for me is the Bluetooth connectivity, meaning you can easily connect this up to your PC/laptop and in the future, someone will hack these drivers and you will no doubt be able to use the controller with smart TV’s as well smartphones and tablets of course.
The standout here for me is the Bluetooth connectivity, meaning you can easily connect this up to your PC/laptop. In the future, there is no doubt in my mind that these drivers will be hacked giving the user the ability to use the controller with smart TV’s, smartphones and tablets.
HDMI & Power-
Disappointingly Microsoft’s offering here is pretty weak. For me, a 4K system should ooze quality, not skimping on any area. Considering that the Xbox One S is the first console to support 4K UHD I was certainly expecting a premium treatment.
The current HDMI standard for 4K content is version 2.0a, which this cable high-speed cable meets, but does not exceed in giving us that aforementioned “premium treatment”.
The cable itself appears nickel-plated… I am sure that many of you are already aware but gold-plated cabling provides better conduction and offers better shielding, resulting in a clearer more vibrant picture. The cost difference in giving us a gold plated cable must have been tiny considering mass production.
The last time I saw Microsoft bundle a gold plated cable was with the older black Xbox 360 Elite when it first went on sale. To me, it feels like Microsoft are counting pennies and missed an opportunity in giving its consumer a superior quality cable.
No power-brick this time around, all that cooling is now internal – a great feature considering that it is still 40% smaller. The power cord is about 1.5m long which should be plenty to set your new system up. However, if you do require a longer cable for the Xbox One S, you will be happy to know that it is no longer a proprietary adaptor, it is a standard 2-pin power cord.
The IR Blaster & Kinect Port
In the place of that now defunct Kinect, the Xbox One S comes with an integrated infrared blaster. That means you can configure your Xbox One S to turn on other devices, like your TV, audio/video receiver, and cable or satellite receiver, similar to what the Kinect used to do. The novelty here is that you can reduce the number of remotes you need to control your stuff, assuming you have a line of sight to that IR strip.
It feels like Microsoft really has given up on the Kinect here as the Xbox One S doesn’t have the dedicated Kinect port anymore. You will now need an additional USB adapter if you still wish to use your Kinect. That being said, however, if like me you upgraded from an older Xbox One model, you can provide its serial code here and receive an adaptor free from Microsoft.
Size Against The Old System?
Here I matched it up against my Halo 5 Xbox One – removed the stand to see the size difference and it is crazy really when you see them next to each other – a vast improvement!
Microsoft’s Hidden Weapon – 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player
The biggest draw for the Xbox One S might not even be gamers, but movie aficionados. That is because the One S features a 4K Blu-ray player making it one of the few options available to consumers in the summer of 2016.
It is a far more affordable option than the two dedicated UHD Blu-ray players currently on the market. The Samsung UBD-K8500 costs £379, and the Panasonic DMP-UB900 costs £649.
Sony has also neglected to include one in their latest offering with the PS4 Pro. However, they are developing a stand-alone 4K Blu-ray player. As for the Xbox One S? The base 500GB model costs £250, while the 2Tb model costs £350. This addition adds considerable value in a unique selling point for a games system.
HDR & Upscaling
Microsoft claims that the system can upscale any content games and media to 4K, now this isn’t native 4K, so just expect an upscaled slightly stronger and more detailed picture.
HDR is a tricky one for me to comment on because HDR is still a very new technology and only the latest 4K TVs fully support this colour garment. From a movie standpoint, however, HDR will make a huge difference to your already awesome 4K Blu-rays.
HDRs effect on gaming could be a huge one if the experience of HDR video is anything to go by, this should mean that HDR games will be able to use wider brightness and colour ranges to create more intense, immersive and believable worlds than we’ve ever experienced before.
HDR gaming in Forza Horizon 3
HDR gaming in Gears of War 4
The guys over at Digital Foundry are of the select few that have the technical capabilities to benchmark systems accurately. So, of course, they were going to put the Xbox One S against the older Xbox One here; it does go into uber detail. However, I can sum it up to you in a few sentences.
|Xbox One||Xbox One S|
|CPU||1.75GHz AMD Jaguar eight-core||1.75GHz AMD Jaguar eight-core|
|GPU||12 Compute Units||12 Compute Units|
The Xbox One S has a slightly faster clock speed on its GPU and its CPU, meaning if you were to run your games from an external SSD (with a GPU heavy video game) you could expect around a 10-12% increase in performance regarding framerate. However, if the game renders on the CPU heavy side of things, there is almost no difference in performance.
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