Xbox One S Impressions
This is less of a full review, rather a quick look at the Xbox One S which I managed to borrow off a colleague for the day. So an Xbox One S reviewed in a day so to speak. A day does not seem long, but for the most part I have had the original console for nearly three years and I only needed the S to see if my Hisense TV was capable of handling 4K HDR for gaming/movies.
Granted I could have purchased an Xbox One S during the Black Friday sales to help do a more in-depth analysis, but I decided to wait because my money is on the Scorpio that comes out next year or I may even settle on a new PC upgrade; having seen how good 4K looks with the older titles I tried on my fledgling PC.
Despite its 8-bit Panel my Hisense screen offers FRC (Frame Rate Control) to simulate the 10-bit colour depth, so it was great to see the Xbox One S gave my TV the all clear. So it supported 4K at 60Hz and 10-bit colour with HDR.
For sure I doubt it can match a native 10-bit panel, but I have to admit at this price point (I paid under £300 for the TV) HDR actually did work and unlike the videos I watched from Digital Foundry, showcasing how complicated the more expensive Samsung 2016 TV’s were to setup in terms of HDR, at least the Hisense does not require a science degree in order to enable it; as the TV switches automatically to HDR by default when it detects a HDR source. It even enables a specific HDR Picture mode to get the most from the feature.
Mind you HDR games are so thin on the ground that it's not worth worrying about at this stage and I only manged to get time with Forza Horizon 3 Demo to see what all the fuss was about. Mind you it's still worth getting a 4K TV at some point with HDR to experience the flood of games that will arrive next year.
Seeing the console with my own eyes, as opposed to seeing it from a shop window, I can’t help but feel that the 40% slimmer moniker is an understatement, as to me it looks way smaller than the original! It’s a pretty impressive feat in how the Microsoft Engineers have managed to condense the console into such a small space and I think the black edging of the base, coupled with the white finish at the top, does provide an illusion in terms of making the console seem even smaller than it is.
I was also surprised that given its shrinkage that the console still weighs a ton when you hold it in the palm of your hands. Build quality is top draw, but this weight could be a result of the integrated power-supply which again is an impressive feat given the size of the originals external power brick!
Additionally most of the ports* are still there from the Xbox One, only they have been re-arranged slightly so the side USB 3.0 port now resides at the front and those annoying touch sensitive buttons for the UHD Blu-ray player’s Eject button and on/off power button have been replaced with physical variants.
At the back of the console you have a Kensington lock (for securing your console to a desk) and the remaining two USB 3.0 ports, coupled with a Digital audio out, a HDMI-Out and a HDMI-In port. Using the latter you can effectively plug in an original PS4 to upscale the games to 4K. This may be especially useful if you are waiting for the PS4 Pro to establish itself before upgrading.
Continuing on you have an IR blaster so that you can switch on your TV, audio receiver or STB without rummaging around for all of your remotes. The wireless controller sync button has also been moved to the front of the console to.
According to some reviews I’ve seen you even get a stand that goes with the Xbox One S so it can be placed up-right, however I think the stand is only included with the 2GB model as the 500GB version I had did not come with one.
Of course most people will know by now that the Kinect port on the Xbox One S has been dropped and you will need to get hold of an adaptor in order to utilise the Kinect on the latest console. I think Microsoft were doing a deal for existing owners which would allow them to get the adaptor for free, but I doubt this offer will be available now.
However if I'm being brutally honest I would not worry a great deal, as the Kinect is pretty much dead in the water. Mine for example has been sitting on a shelf gathering dust for the past year or so. It's a shame really because I used to enjoy saying 'Xbox Record that' to record my gameplay footage, but my controller's Chatpad does this instantly with a tap of a button, so alongside this and the lack of game/interface support, there is less incentive to use it.
Xbox One S Controller
Speaking of controller’s I found the Xbox One S controller was a vast improvement to the original Xbox One controller in terms of build quality. On my Xbox One controller- which was one of the first batch of controllers to be released-it suffered from poor casing, so for example the left side would constantly creak under pressure.
On top of this the Xbox One S controller’s view and menu buttons are also slightly smaller, but at the same time they have more reassuring travel when pressed.
Additionally the power button is now flush to the casing so it fits in with the controller more seamlessly. However for me the flush approach made it harder to press or I should say respond to my button presses, so there was a slight drawback here.
For the remaining buttons they also have a slightly different feel and yet I have to admit I was a little disappointed with the textured grip as I was expecting this to be rubberised. Instead you just get several dimples etched into the back of the handles.
Even so the controller has pretty much the same dimensions as the original and it does provide additional connectivity options with Bluetooth functionality to go with the WiFi direct side of things; so it’s easier to attach to a Windows 10 PC.
Side Note: The question is does the new controller work on the original Xbox One and vice versa? Additionally what about all the original accessories? Thankfully the answer is a resounding yes, and the video below showcases the tests I ran on the console during the time I had with it.
I was lucky in some ways because the console had already been setup previously by my colleague, which meant that the large upgrade-that your normally have to do when you first plug in the Xbox One S-had been dealt with.
However for those with 4K screens the first step is to plug the console into your 4K @60Hz enabled HDMI port. Without this you won’t be getting the full benefits of the device.
Also once the console has booted you need to head into the Settings > Display & Sound > Video output options to set the console up for 4K 60Hz. And additionally delve into the Advanced settings option as from here you can go into the 4K TV Details section to see what the console will detect in terms of the capabilities of your TV.
As I said before my Hisense was fully supported by the Xbox One S, which meant I could do some HDR gaming.