Microsoft has done an interesting job upgrading the original Xbox One in the form of the Xbox One S. While it’s probably not an immediate need for current owners, newcomers to the Xbox clan are in for a treat with this new and improved model. To put that in specific terms, we’ve created a handy list of 11 ways it improves on the original console.
It’s like the mini-me version of the hulking first edition Xbox One. So if you were hesitant to buy one because of how much shelf space it takes up, the S is for you. The S seems positively tiny in comparison to the monolithic Xbox One.
For a lot of gamers, this is a big deal and puts it squarely in line with something Sony has done for years. On the other hand, an external power brick keeps the heat off the original Xbox One better than a PS4 can manage and the One runs silently unlike the jet engine-like fans on the PS4 (and PS3). So, this could wind up being a problem in the One S.
The Xbox One S is an upgrade of the original, so it does everything the original did and more. Part of that “more” is thanks to a moderately updated CPU and GPU (graphics processing unit). While Microsoft has been adamant this extra horsepower is for games supporting new TV features, early tests indicate minor increases in general frame rates, which is always a good thing.
Technically not just for 4K sets, but any TV or monitor that supports it, HD-R leads to richer and more in depth colors. It’s not just a gimmick and most new (decent) 4K sets are supporting it, so this is an addition worth noting. Admittedly, games have to actually support the new standard and we’ve yet to hear how extensive it will be.
Those who love physical media understand that Blu-rays still produce the optimal picture and sound quality for your viewing pleasure. So, for those who want the absolute home theater experience, the inclusion of a 4K Blu-ray player is a big deal—especially since a standalone player costs at least as much as the S, if not more.
The old Xbox One only supported HDMI 1.4, so while it could technically pump 4K video through, it was hampered by a lower refresh rate that made it not worth bothering with. With the 2.0 standard, however, the S can pipe 4K video and upscale 1080p games like a champ.
Speaking of 1080p and 4K gaming, the S isn’t powerful enough to do native 4K gaming—which requires an enormous amount of computing power—but it can upscale your current gaming collection to better accommodate that new 4K TV. Combine this with HD-R support and the possibility of better framerates from the enhanced hardware, and you have, for the time being, the best Xbox experience.
While the S will be available with smaller hard drives (500GB and 1TB versions will come later), the launch version has a beefy 2TB drive that ensures you won’t easily run out of space. Since so many games are taking up tens of gigs, this is a pretty important addition.
This may or may not matter to you, but the option to stand the console upright could be a space life-saver in cramped A/V cabinets and on TV stands. To take advantage of this new ability, however, you’ll need the stand, which comes standard with the 2TB version, but is a $20 extra for the upcoming models with smaller drives.
It sports native Bluetooth, so it can easily be used with PCs (and other devices with BT support). The controller itself has a slightly different textured grip design, extended range, and exchangeable colored covers, allowing gamers to personalize it.
This useful little addition further cements the Xbox One’s original intent to be the ultimate all-in-one entertainment device. It allows you to configure the S to talk to other A/V devices—TVs, A/V receivers, cable or satellite box, etc.—and control them all through the Xbox. For home theater lovers who dig tweaking their set-ups and making the most of their entertainment hardware, this is a nice feature to have.
Jason D’Aprile has been covering games and entertainment for the last three decades across a variety of platforms, many of which are now extinct. In addition to covering gaming (both obscure and otherwise), he also writes a bit of the odd fiction and tries hard to avoid social media.