What was going on in the Microsoft Devices Group during the Xbox One's design phase? The 2013 console launched in a hideous state—and I mean that from a purely aesthetic angle. (We could go on about its other launch issues.) The system's staggering size and VCR-like design left a lot to be desired, and the result was an entertainment-center eyesore that was somehow larger than 2005's Xbox 360.
Microsoft had made handsome hardware before, particularly the XB1's predecessor, the svelte and curvy Xbox 360 S. The company's hardware side has since redeemed itself with the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. Plus, the Xbox One is nearing its third birthday, which is the usual timeframe for a sales-boosting hardware redesign. Sure enough, the Xbox One S has arrived in time to redeem the Xbox division's reputation.
Having seen the updated system design in person at this summer's E3 conference, we at Ars already knew the Xbox One S would be an improvement by default. Now that I've tested the system for a few days ahead of its August 2 launch in the US, I can safely level-up that compliment and confirm that it's Microsoft's best-looking console yet. The One S is exactly the kind of sleek consumer box that gets second glances and compliments while tucked beneath your TV screen of choice (or placed alongside it after attaching an included vertical stand).