The new Xbox One S is now available in the 2TB model, selling for $399 from most retailers. The release of the “S” with a 2TB hard-drive pre-dates smaller HD configurations including a 1TB model and 500GB model, both releasing on August 23rd. The 1TB and 500GB Xbox One S models will be priced at $349 and $299, respectively.
The Xbox One S wins on two particular aspects. The first is the footprint of the “S” that takes up about 40% less space than an Xbox One. Not only is the profile slimmer (2.5” vs. 3”), and overall smaller (11.75” x 9” vs. 13” x 10.75”), Microsoft has moved that cumbersome powerbrick inside the unit. What a difference it makes!
The second major aspect is the Xbox One S support of video. The S comes with a built-in Ultra HD Blu-ray player and will stream 4k video over the internet. What’s more, the S supports HDR (High Dynamic Range) content, the emerging video specification that adds a wider range of color and contrast. HDR requires HDMI 2.0a, and luckily the Xbox One S supports the new video spec out-of-the-box. Among the two most popular HDR standards, Dolby Vision and HDR10, the Xbox One S supports the latter.
Games such as Gears of War 4, coming this fall, will feature HDR content that can be viewed through the Xbox One S console. However, the monitor or TV connected to the “S” will have to support 4k and HDR in order to take advantage of the upgrades.
Other design changes of note are, of course, the all white finish with black highlights rather than the all black Xbox One. And, the “S” has a USB 3.0 port on the front of the model rather than the side, which is certainly more convenient but an annoyance for some of us who don’t want to have cords sticking out of the front of the box.
The controllers are also now white, with a texture on the bottom that will help with slippery hands. And, the controllers now include Bluetooth to connect with Windows 10 compatible computers.
Ports on the back of the Xbox One S include HDMI IN, HDMI OUT, two more USB 3.0, IR Out, S/PDIF audio, and Ethernet. The “S” does not have a Kinect port like its predecessor, but owners can get a free Kinect adapter from the official Xbox website after purchasing the S.
While some critics have said the Xbox One S is not much of an upgrade to the Xbox One (or what the One should have been in the first place), we would argue that support of Ultra HD Blu-ray discs alone is a reason to buy the S, given that Ultra HD Blu-ray players cost anywhere between $300 and $400.