Out of all the news at E3 this year, probably the biggest hardware announcement was from Microsoft and that it was releasing the first significant update to the Xbox One since it was unveiled almost three years ago.
No one really expected Microsoft to update its Xbox One quite so soon, but the fact of the matter is today’s market place is dramatically different to what it was when the company released its Xbox 360. The rise of cheaper 4K TVs for instance is one driving factor, another is the fact that Sony is already working on a successor model to its awesome PlayStation 4.
The Xbox is an important component of Microsoft’s business, so keeping it in a state of constant evolution makes a lot of sense. Also, Microsoft has been careful not to alienate existing Xbox One users with the Xbox One S. It is smaller, yes, and it does support 4K TVs but there won’t really be much difference with respect to overall gaming between the two machines, despite the S being slightly more powerful.
Called the Xbox One S, the new console is everything you know and love about the original Xbox One packaged in a new body and with some internal enhancements. Before we get into everything you need to know about the Xbox One S let’s take a peek at its official launch video:
Xbox One S: Design
The most noticeable thing about the Xbox One S is it design. Gone is the black body of the original Xbox One. The new console comes in a beautiful white finish that is solid plastic on one side while the other side is perforated with hole to both give it a cool like and also act as vents for heat dissipation.
Of course, the other noticeable thing about the Xbox One S is that it is 40% smaller in size than the original Xbox One. To understand just how big of a change this is you also need to realize that despite being 40% smaller, the external power brick of the original Xbox One has now been fitted inside the device. So despite moving the power brick internally, the Xbox One S is still almost half the size as the original. Amazing.
The last thing we want to hit on about the design is that the Xbox One S is able to sit horizontally or now stand vertically. This should please those who want as unobtrusive a gaming console as possible.
Xbox One S: Hardware and Specs
Microsoft isn’t advertising the Xbox One S as having a faster GPU or CPU, but technically it does although Microsoft has said the improvement is so small it will have "literally no impact” on gaming performance. What the slightly improved specs does allow for is high-dynamic-range (HDR) color support for games. So, if the developers take advantage of HDR in their games, those games on the Xbox One S will have brighter whites, deeper blacks and more natural colors.
In the connectivity department, some things have changed with the Xbox One S. First of all there is no longer a dedicated Kinect port. If you want to use a Kinect with the Xbox One S you’ll need a Kinect-to-USB adapter.
However, the Xbox One S does gain an IR blaster, which means now you can configure your Xbox One S to turn on your other devices like your TV, audio/video receiver, and cable/satellite receiver.
On the storage front, the Xbox One S will come in three storage sizes: the 2TB launch edition, a 1TB edition, and a 500GB edition.
As for hardware features, the Xbox One S does have one more big one…it now supports 4K video…
Xbox One S: 4K support
But let's get something clear: the Xbox One S DOES NOT support 4K video games. The 4K support it offers is for video only, meaning the Xbox One S supports 4K Blu-ray discs and 4k Ultra HD streaming content from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. Keep in mind, of course, that you’ll need a 4K TV if you want to watch 4K video through the Xbox One S.
Xbox One S: Controller
The final big change with the Xbox One S is the controller it comes with. This too has been given a white makeover to match the body of the new console. But that’s not it. First, the new controller works via Xbox Wireless and, for the first time, Bluetooth. This means that the controller can also be used with other PCs, smartphones, and tablets that support Bluetooth controllers.
The controller also gets a bit of a sleeker body and a new textured grip, so it’s easier to hang on to when your hands are all sweaty from tense Star Wars Battlefront battles. And the final boost to the controller comes from it’s range. It now has a range twice as long as the previous Xbox One controller.
Xbox One S: Price and release date
Microsoft hasn’t announced a specific day for the release of the Xbox One S, but they have said it’s coming to the UK in August—at least the 2TB “launch” edition will be available then. Amazon had originally listed this edition for an August 2nd release, but later changed that to an August 31st release. It’s entirely possible the console will be released earlier than the 31st and that date is just a placeholder for now. But for those who want the 1TB or 500GB editions, you’re probably looking at a September launch timeframe.
As for cost the 2TB launch edition will be £349, while the 1TB edition will be £299, and the 500GB edition will be £249.