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e3 2016

Everything You Need To Know About The Xbox One S, Microsoft’s Middle Child

by Blake Hester on Jun 15, 2016 at 08:34 AM

The Xbox One S is the stepping stone between the original Xbox One released in 2013 and the upcoming Project Scorpio expected during holiday 2017. There’s a lot to break down with Microsoft’s next iteration, so we’ve organized all the available information to help you decide if the technical upgrade (and size downgrade) is a good fit for you.

The first thing differentiating the Xbox One S from its predecessor is the new design. The unit is 40 percent smaller than the original Xbox One, and has received a complete visual makeover. Now a sleek white, the newest Xbox is as stylish as it is functional. The Xbox One is not a compact console, coming in at just over a foot long, almost 11 inches wide, and about seven pounds. No specific specs have been released for the S yet, but a decrease in size does shape up to a far more transportable console.

The new form factor doesn’t come at the cost of performance, though. The Xbox One S is the first home console (PC excluded) with the ability to display 4K resolution. When using the S with applicable televisions, games, movies, or TV shows developed or shot in 4K will have higher visual fidelity than other home consoles, like the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. The new console will also feature something called High Dynamic Range, which makes colors look bolder and clearer by increasing the contrast between the lights and darks on the screen.

Furthermore, added CPU and GPU power of the S will help games like Gears Of War 4 run better on the new console, according to a report by Polygon. Developers at The Coalition are using the console’s extra strength to keep the game running smoothly during more demanding portions of its single-player and multiplayer modes. However, contradicting this is a report by Eurogamer, stating Microsoft maintains the S model will have "literally no impact"  on performance over the standard Xbox One, aside from visually. It may remain up in the air who’s right until the public has hands-on time with the console and its games.

The S will also have the ability to control other entertainment devices through its IR Blaster, or Infrared Blaster. Users will be able to set up their Xbox One S to turn on things such as televisions, audio and video receivers, and cable receivers, more or less making your Xbox One S a universal remote for other devices in the house. 

It’s not just the console itself that is seeing some enhancements. Microsoft announced a new controller alongside the Xbox One S, though it’s unclear whether it will be available only with the new console or if it can be purchased as a standalone item. The new controller features a textured grip on its backside (similar to the Lunar White Controller released last year), and has twice the wireless range of the standard controller.    

Lastly, how much you’re going to spend on the Xbox One S is contingent on its added hard drive space. Let’s break it down:

  • A 500 GB standard model will be available for $299
  • A 1 TB model available for $349
  • A 2 TB “Launch Edition” available for $399, comes with a vertical stand

The 2 TB Launch Edition comes out several months earlier than the other two, launching in August, while the 1 TB and 500 GB editions release in December. Across these three versions, the only difference – aside from the vertical stand – is the internal storage space. Everything else comes standard with all options. 

Microsoft is launching a third iteration on the Xbox One next year. Called “Project Scorpio,” Microsoft says the new console will be significantly more powerful than both the Xbox One and the Xbox One S – and potentially any other consoles on the market. For most consumers looking to upgrade their current Xbox One, you may want to bide your time and wait for Scorpio. However, for anyone looking to purchase their first Xbox One console before the holiday season of 2017, the Xbox One S is probably the best bet.