A Look at the Xbox One S

A Look at the Xbox One S

Mid-lifecycle hardware refreshes have become a staple of both home and handheld consoles since the heyday of video games. Starting back with the NES Jr, game companies have made it a habit of redesigning hardware in order to cut costs and reinvigorate a market years after a console's initial launch.

Fast forward a few decades, and Microsoft has announced not one, but two planned hardware revisions for its current flagship console, the Xbox One. While the second revision (codenamed "Scorpio") won't see light of day until late 2017, this year's revision, the Xbox One S landed on store shelves this past September.

What are the benefits of Xbox One S, and how does it differ from the original model? Should you buy one now, or wait for Project Scorpio? Read on for answers to these questions and more, as BFAds.net gives you a look at the Xbox One S.


Form Factor

Form Factor

The first and most obvious difference between the Xbox One and the Xbox One S is the slimmer form factor. That's right, after focus groups, peer reviews, independent studies, and countless hours of overtime at Microsoft's product naming division, the S stands for "Slim."

How much slimmer is actually a bit of a shock, the console is 40% smaller than the VCR-sized Xbox One, offering a striking contrast between the similarly equipped consoles. Thanks in no small part to this dramatic weight loss, the console, which measures 9.125-in. x 11.7-in. x 2.5-in., now includes a console stand for those that wish to get vertical with their new Xbox, something that was not supported with the Xbox One.

Not only is the console smaller and thinner, giving you much needed real-estate in your entertainment center, but one of the most welcome changes is the omission of a large external power supply. Gone is the large, heavy, and warm power brick that became a punch line for Xbox deriders for resembling a Ghostbusters trap. Somehow the Xbox One S is nearly half the size with the power supply housed within the console.

The USB port that was awkwardly located on the side of the first Xbox One has been moved more comfortably to the front of the console. For any Kinect supporters left out there, you'll be sad to hear that the dedicated Kinect port is completely absent from the Xbox One S, and if you wish you use your existing Kinect sensor, it will be necessary to buy an adapter from Microsoft. The death knell for Kinect has never tolled louder.


Under the Hood – Performance Upgrades

Under the Hood – Performance Upgrades

The big upgrade that the Xbox One S boasts over the original Xbox One is the ability to play 4K Blu-ray movies and to stream 4K content from native 4K streaming apps like Netflix and Youtube. It's important to note here that although Xbox One S is being touted as a console for those with 4K televisions and home theaters, games will not run in native 4K on the Xbox One S. 4K gaming is a feature that will be part of 2017's Project Scorpio, so if you are looking for a beefier gaming console that will deliver native 4K graphics, the Xbox One S should be skipped in anticipation of next year's Xbox revision.

What the Xbox One S does bring to the table for gaming is 4K upscaling of all content to 3840 x 2,160, so if you have a 4K TV and are happy with 1080p or less games scaled to 4K, the Xbox One S will fit the bill. For the games that are made to take advantage of high dynamic range, or HDR, the Xbox One S will also present content with a much deeper color gamut, offering color range and picture quality that is unmatched by regular HD or 4K content. Note that your 4K UHDTV must feature an HDR capable display to take advantage of this feature for both games and 4K Blu-ray discs.

It should also be noted that because of its HDR capabilities its integrated 4K streaming apps, the Xbox One S is one of the best options out there for anyone who is in the market for a 4K Blu-ray player. It is similarly priced and offers unparalleled versatility compared to other 4K Blu-ray players on the market.


Controller

Controller

Along with the upgraded and redesigned console comes the second revision of the Xbox One controller. The version of the Xbox One controller that launched with the console back in 2013 was competent enough, but left a lot to be desired for most gamers. The shoulder buttons were mushy and didn't have a good tactile response, and there was no native headphone jack, requiring gamers to purchase a dongle to hook up their headsets directly to the controller.

The first revision fixed these problems, but the Xbox One S controller adds a bit more refinement to the controllers design by adding a subtle textured grip to the back half of the controller, giving a nice, premium feel when you hold it. The second and most important revision comes from the internal radio, as Microsoft has finally conceded to adding Bluetooth connectivity to the controller out of the box. Those wishing to use their Xbox One S controller on a PC or laptop need only pair with the new controller and get gaming, and will no longer need to spend money on (another) proprietary Microsoft dongle.

Current Xbox One owners that are intrigued by the idea of a controller upgrade, which should especially interest those still using the launch controller, will be happy to know that the Xbox One S controller will work out of the box with the original Xbox One. As an added bonus to those who already own an Xbox One, the S controller features a more powerful wireless signal, giving the controller improved connectivity and the ability to sit further from the console.


Is the Xbox One S Right for You?

We can throw features and specs at you until you go cross-eyed, but what it really comes down to is whether or not the Xbox One S is right for you. This largely depends on what you already have in your home and what your particular needs might be. It basically comes down to these categories:

• I want an Xbox One but don't have a 4K UHDTV and have no plans to upgrade. – The Xbox One S is not for you in this case. If you're gaming on a regular 1080p HDTV, with no plans or desire to upgrade to a 4K UDHTV, the Xbox One S offers no real benefits, and you are better off picking up a discounted Xbox One system and putting that savings towards games or the excellent Xbox One S controller.

• I don't have an Xbox One and already have a 4K UHDTV (or plan on getting one soon). – If you're set on getting an Xbox One in 2016 and already have a UHDTV, the Xbox One S is without a doubt the best choice for you. The features and upgrades are aimed specifically towards those with 4K sets, and you will immediately benefit from the most fully-featured Xbox One on the market, while opening the door to a stellar library of games.

• I already have an Xbox One and a 4K UHDTV. Should I upgrade? - – While you would see some benefit in the form of 4K upscaling, your TV is likely already doing some form up upscaling for you. 4K Blu-ray and streaming is a great feature to have, but you are probably better off waiting until 2017's Project Scorpio. The benefits of the Xbox One S are nice, but it's hard to justify paying upwards of $400 for upgrades that are relatively minor for someone who is already an Xbox One owner. With Scorpio said to be a massive upgrade in graphics and performance, you may suffer from a bit of buyer's remorse less than a year after your purchase, and find yourself spending good money after bad if you choose to upgrade yet again

If you've got questions and comments about the Xbox One S that we haven't covered here, make sure to head down to our comments section and let us know. This Black Friday season is just kicking off, and as always, the best place for you to stay on top of Black Friday news, price breaks, and ad leaks is here at BFAds.net.

October 6, 2016
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