During every console cycle there comes a point where hardware becomes easier and cheaper to manufacture, allowing for components to be miniaturised and improved. That time has come for Microsoft and the Xbox One in the form of the Xbox One S.
The Xbox One S is a refresh of the bulky Xbox One and features a new design with a “robot white” colour scheme. It is also 40 percent smaller than the original Xbox One, and has been dubbed by Microsoft as being the most compact Xbox ever made. The new unit also includes a built-in power supply (a first for the Xbox brand), and in response to fan requests worldwide, can be placed horizontally or vertically with an optional stand.
In addition to being slimmer and sleeker, the Xbox One S has a few new hardware tricks up its sleeves for video and gameplay. Movies and television, whether on Blu-ray or being streamed, can now be enjoyed in retina popping 4K Ultra HD video. It also supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) for video and gaming. HDR allows visuals to have a richer and more luminous colour range as well as a higher contrast ratio between lights and darks, but it only works with HDR compatible televisions.
A core tenet of Microsoft’s E3 press conference was “no gamer will be left behind”. With this in mind, the Xbox One S is still compatible with all original and new Xbox One accessories, whilst sporting a few new changes and technological enhancements. For increased accessibility, Microsoft shifted one of the three USB ports and the pairing button to the front of the Xbox One S, alongside a newly added IR blaster for gamers without Kinect. Additionally, in order to make the Xbox One S as compact as possible, Microsoft removed the dedicated Kinect port from the back of the console. Although the port is now gone, the Xbox One S is still compatible with Kinect via the Xbox Kinect Adapter for USB. Gamers who currently own a Kinect for Xbox One and who plan to purchase the Xbox One S, will be happy to know that Microsoft is offering a free Xbox Kinect Adapter.
Not only did Microsoft update the Xbox One, but the company also updated the excellent Xbox One controller. The updated Xbox Wireless Controller has a new textured grip, for enhanced comfort, as well as improved signal performance to give gamers a more reliable wireless connection to the console. As such, it now has up to twice the wireless range when used with Xbox One S. In additional to the traditional WiFi connectivity, the updated controller now also has Bluetooth. Apparently this was included in order to allow the controller to connect more easily to compatible Windows 10 devices. Lastly, the controller has a new thumbtack design that, according to Microsoft, significantly reduces wear to help maintain accuracy and smooth rotation over the life of the controller.
The Xbox One S will be available in three storage options: 500GB, 1TB and special launch edition with 2TB. The limited quantity 2TB launch edition Xbox One S will be available in select markets starting in early August, 2016, for $399 USD/R5999, with the 1TB Xbox One S for $349 USD/R5499 and the 500GB Xbox One S for $299 USD/R4999 arriving thereafter. The Xbox One Vertical Stand will also be available for standalone purchase for $19.99 USD/R499 and the new Xbox One controller will be available for $59.99 USD/R1200 [Please note: all South African prices are estimates].