The wait has been long, but we finally have a version of the Xbox One that I can get behind. Though it’s been available globally for about a year, the Xbox One S was launched in India last month. It is an improvement over the original Xbox One in almost every way, and will be the main console pushed by Microsoft as its predecessor sails off into the sunset.
At their core, the Xbox One S and the Xbox One are essentially the same console, but Microsoft has made a number of significant changes. The One S is much more compact and better looking, more so than the original ever was. It also adds support for 4K (not native) and HDR, breathing new life into your games and video content. This is also the only console that plays 4K Blu-Ray, making it one of the better options for people looking for a good combination of a home console and an affordable UHD Blu-ray player.
The Xbox One S is a total visual overhaul compared to the original Xbox One, and we can’t help but stare at it in awe. It is 40% smaller, which is all the more impressive once you consider that the power supply is now integrated. That’s right, no more lugging around the bulky power adapter around. It also favours perforated pinholes rather than the chunky vent-full design of the original, making it look even more aesthetic. The white matte finish with black accents gives off a stormtrooper-esque vibe and it’s amazing.
The power button is now an actual physical button instead of the touch sensitive one on the Xbox One, which is much better as it prevents any accidental switching on/off. The USB port and the controller pairing button have been moved to the front. You can also keep this one on its side, though you’ll have to a buy a stand separately unless you get the 2TB variant.
Even the controller has been improved, now having better textured grip than the original one. It is hands down the best controller I’ve used yet. I’ve always been a fan of Microsoft controllers, be it the 360 controller or the Xbox One controller, but this one here, with a textured grip and improved connectivity feels simply amazing. It fits easily in your hands and is really comfortable to hold even for long periods of time, meaning that you can sit for hours and play without discomfort. The best part is probably that Microsoft has finally added Bluetooth functionality to the controller, and PC players looking for a wireless controller now have a proper option without having to spend extra on the Xbox Wireless Adapter.
In terms of ports and connections, the One S is pretty similar to the original; one HDMI out, one HDMI in, two USB, IR out, Ethernet and optical audio out. The HDMI output has been upgraded to 2.0, meaning the console is now capable of proper 4K @ 60Hz output. The inside specs are almost the same as well, with the Xbox One S being powered by a custom 8-core AMD CPU with a 1.75 GHz clock speed, and 8GB DDR3 RAM, though the GPU frequency has been increased to 914 Mhz, from 853, in order to handle the extra load from HDR games, which offers better colour and contrast in your games, breathing a new life into the visuals.
Though the 4K output from the Xbox One S is not native 4K, it is upscaled quite well. It offers a sharp picture quality with barely noticeable jagged edges which makes the 1080p game library look spectacular. For casual gamers, the upscaled graphics wouldn’t be bothering. As a 4K UHD Blu ray player as well, the Xbox One S does an impressive job. Loading times are good and the quality is great. The HDR makes it even better, and compared to the other 4K Blu-ray players in the market, it is a solid and the most affordable option. Whether you’re a casual gamer or an AV enthusiast, the Xbox One S has plenty to take care of you.