Xbox One S: Is It Worth It?

Brand loyalty isn’t as prevalent these days, but as a longtime PlayStation user I can’t help but feel that I’ve gone and committed treason. I’ve done it, I’ve bought the Xbox One S. So, while I’m here, I figured I might as well review it and point out any changes in build or performance from the original Xbox One.

Build

Right off the bat, the differences between the original Xbox One and the One S are obvious. The One S has reduced itself down to 40% of the size of its predecessor and certainly looks the part. Its chassis retains a similar sleek single-texture surface with a matte finish on the left side, but Microsoft decided to change up the right side with a much more porous casing that allows proper ventilation. This is done in consideration of the build being much more tightly packed, due to Microsoft wanting to include the same hardware in a smaller case, while also removing the need for an external power brick, instead opting for an internal one similar to its PlayStation counterpart. This is a win/win as it allows the One S to become considered somewhat portable while also saving space at home.

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Photo Credit to Tyler Pina at The Verge/Vox Media

Aside from the texture and appearance of the console, Microsoft also decided to exchange the touch interface of the power and eject buttons for physical replacements while removing the rear port for the Kinect as well. They instead opted for the use of an IR beam, which allows the Kinect to link to the console wirelessly.

The One S has reduced itself down to 40% of the size of its predecessor and certainly looks the part. Its chassis retains a similar sleek single-texture surface with a matte finish on the left side, but Microsoft decided to change up the right side with a much more porous casing that allows proper ventilation.

Controller

At a quick glance, the controller that comes with the One S appears to be no different than the original Xbox One model, but closer inspection reveals that Microsoft decided to make it a little bit sleeker, while also adding a textured surface underneath on the grips. The controller also has twice the wireless range of the original model with the added bonus of being able to connect to phones, tablets, and Windows 10 PCs as well. These are impressive additives as you don’t have to spend time worrying about staying connected with your Xbox if you have to be across the room, and connecting to additional devices without having to use a controller with a cable saves users the hassle of dealing with a lot of clutter.

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Photo Credit to Emma Boyle/Tech Radar

The one complaint I have myself and have received from others is that the One S seems to have quite a noticeable battery drain. Compared to the original Xbox One controller’s 50+ hours, the One S controller I have used lasts only around an estimated 20-35 hours. Of course, this was while I was using AA batteries, which I have now replaced with a rechargeable set. Since then, I have not had the chance to monitor any changes due to the fact that I plug in the controller when it isn’t in use. So whether this is due to the now implemented Bluetooth function, just a 1-in-a-million fluke, or because I was using AA batteries is unclear. That being said, it is worth mentioning for heavy users as they might want to consider a rechargeable battery pack if they make the purchase.

Performance

As for performance, Microsoft decided to update the One S from Xbox One’s original HDMI 1.4 to HDMI 2.0 a. This decision to move from HD to HDR allows the One S the ability to have a deeper color spectrum. For those unaware of the differences, you can catch up on everything here, and here. In a nutshell, this change allows deeper blacks, brighter whites, and helps colors appear more natural.

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Credit to NX Gamer/YouTube

The One S is no more capable than the original Xbox One when it comes to true 4K gaming, but it is able to “upscale” games to 4K. Meaning Microsoft was able to improve the resolution of games displayed on 4K TVs even though they aren’t actually at 4K resolution. That being said, the One S is able to stream movies and TV shows at their full 4K potential, while also supporting 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray playback.

The fact that Microsoft not only improved upon the original Xbox One’s graphics when it comes to gaming but also included 4K streaming and Blu-ray playback ability easily gives it a one-up over the original console.

When it comes to processing power, not much has changed. The One S still retains the Xbox One’s original CPU, which is an 8-core AMD Jaguar running at 1.75 GHz, but Microsoft did slightly tweak the GPU from a 1.31 TFLOP AMD Raedon with 8GB of RAM to a 1.4 version of the same model. This doesn’t seem like much of a difference, but the decision to do the clock upgrade along with the HDMI 2.0 support is the reason that HDR support and 4K upscaling is even possible.

The fact that Microsoft not only improved upon the original Xbox One’s graphics when it comes to gaming but also included 4K streaming and Blu-ray playback ability easily gives it a one-up over the original console.

Bottom Line

So, is it worth it? Well, that depends. If you are in the market for an upgrade from an older generation model (Xbox 360), a first-time console buyer, or switching platforms as I have, then yes. Especially considering that they have a 1 TB model with a game of your choice bundled in a $349 USD, or a more affordable 500 GB model at $299 USD. That being said, if you already own an Xbox One and don’t really fret over things like slightly improved graphics or 4K streaming, I say save yourself some money. I have personally spent a lot of time on the original console and haven’t noticed any glaring differences between the One S and the original Xbox One when it comes to performance.

Feature Photo Credited to Tyler Pina at The Verge and Vox Media
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