Review: Xbox One S

Smaller, sleeker, slightly smoother software

The Xbox One S is a smaller Xbox One that supports 4K video output, but not native 4K gaming. Games don’t really run any differently on it from before, apart from some minor resolution up-scaling on the new new hardware.

What, you want slightly more information? Fine, I guess I’ll do my job and actually write a full-length review…

 

It’s not exactly small, but smaller than previous models

The Xbox One S is primarily being marketed as a smaller, sleeker Xbox One console, and without question it is more slimline than the original hardware. What is important to note is that this reduction in size only really serves to bring it in line with the rough dimensions of a PS4 – it’s not exactly small, but smaller than previous models. It basically brings the system down to the size that its competitor reached a few years back.

The only other space-reducing change made to the console of note is that it now features an internal power supply, no longer requiring a crazy-large external power brick to run.

 

The console only currently comes in matte white, which looks stylish and, more importantly, picks up minimal fingerprints when transported. The power button is now a physical button rather than a touch activated spot, which I wildly prefer.

The new controller has some nicer hand grips, and it connects more readily to Windows 10 PC’s wirelessly over Bluetooth, but otherwise it feels very similar to a standard Xbox One controller.

 

Lastly, don’t expect to be using your Kinect with the Xbox One S unless you want to go to the trouble of getting an adapter, not included in the console, which requires its own external mains power to operate.

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty: the console’s 4K support.

 

The Xbox One S upscales games to 4K so that your 4K TV isn’t displaying a non native resolution. This is not designed to improve the visuals of the game, and has a negligible effect on how games look. Do not buy the Xbox One S expecting it to make your games look better, unless you already have a 4K TV and displaying a 1080p signal on your screen is causing you display issues, because there won’t be any marked improvement.

A few rare games have seen minor performance increases for some users, but this is only has a minor effect on a very limited number of titles.

It’s also important to note that while the Xbox One S supports 4K HDR (High Dynamic Range, which allows for a wider range of colours), it doesn’t support the HDR competitor Dolby Vision. This will have a notable effect on the way images are displayed, and the range of colours you experience on some TVs.

 

As a 4K streaming box and BluRay player, the Xbox One S looks fantastic. HDR10-supported BluRay movies in particular, like The Lego Movie, look amazing when run on the console. I was able to pick out details like thumb prints on characters I had not spotted since my original cinema viewing of the movie.

 

HDR10-supported BluRay movies in particular look amazing when run on the console

If you’re looking for an Xbox One model that’s smaller, runs video content nicely in 4K and upscales other content for TV resolution consistency, and understand it won’t make games look or run any better, the Xbox One S is the box for you. If you’re looking for games to look or run better, what you’re probably better off doing is just waiting for the Scorpio to release some time next year.

It’s a better box than the original console release, but I’m hard pressed to recommend upgrading unless you’re looking for very specific features.

Manufacturer: Microsoft

MSRP: £349.99 (2TB Edition)

Input: HDMI, standard power adapter

  • Smaller design
  • No external power brick
  • 4K video output
  • Minimal game performance bump
  • No Dolby Vision support

A nice new look with a few handy tweaks. Don’t expect this to make your games run significantly better, because it won’t.

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Laura's gaming journey began in the 90′s when she was given a SNES by her older brother with Mario paint. From that day video games were all she thought about day or night, be it playing them, designing them, discussing them or writing about them.

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