A few thoughts about the Xbox One S

The Good

  • Much smaller than its predecessor.
  • Includes an HDMI 2.0 compatible cable.
  • Wireless controller now supports Bluetooth, enabling its use with Windows 10 PCs (although Microsoft provides no instructions on how to get this working; early attempts here have failed).
  • 4K user interface is sharper & nicer to look at.
  • 4K Just Works(tm), albeit I have an “old” (just over a year old) TV that doesn’t support HDR and therefore can’t take advantages of that feature in games or video.  This isn’t Microsoft’s fault, this is the entire TV manufacturers’ fault.  See Walt Mossberg’s Verge article about “TVs are still too complicated, and it’s not your fault”. I wholeheartedly agree, and I wonder if we’re due to go back to the good old days of Rumbalows, Granada and other TV rental shops given how often TV and video “standards” keep changing.
  • The UHD 4K Blu-Ray player works very well indeed – sharp, crisp images on Batman vs Superman.  Looking forward to watching this in its entirety this weekend.  The Xbox One S is definitely the device for those looking at the cheapest route for UHD Blu-Ray playback.
  • The new wireless controller feels great – and I’m actually getting used to first person shooters now thanks to improved grip.
  • 2Tb hard drive a vast improvement on 500Gb, even if game saves are saved to the Microsoft cloud.  Speaking of which, all settings were restored to the new console immediately as each app started.  No fuss – it Just Works(tm).
  • As Xbox One S runs Windows 10, integration with existing Windows 10 PCs on the network works wonderfully well, including gameplay streaming.  Xbox One S (and its predecessor) can run Universal Windows Platform (UWP) programs and it has its own app store.

The Bad

  • Microsoft really needs to update those Knowledgebase articles PDQ.  Online help for this new console is dreadfully lacking (not that it is much different from the predecessor, but see Bluetooth wireless support above as one example).
  • Few improvements to game themselves as most of the improvements focus on making a smaller, more power efficient unit, along with adding 4K and HDR support for video, and HDR support for games.  That said, the GPU speed has been bumped up slightly.  It still has an 8-core x86 CPU in there running at the same speed as the predecessor, and 8Gb RAM.
  • Few 4K compatible UWP apps out there.  Netflix is currently the only one.

The Ugly

  • Doesn’t “do” 4K games.  This is reserved for the Next Big Thing – Project Scorpio