Microsoft got plenty of cheers and whoops of jubilation when it revealed the Xbox One S at E3. We know this, because we were right there in the crowd, and our ears were bleeding from the shrill screams of the enthusiastic Americans sitting next to us.
So why all the hype? Well, everyone loves new console hardware don’t they? Something shiny, something new - it’s proper exciting, like.
Trouble is, the Xbox One S is going to be released at a rather awkward time, at the end of August - around one year before another new Xbox console hits shelves.
That’s right, Microsoft revealed a second console at E3, known only as Project Scorpio. It’s specced to the hilt and set to be the most powerful console ever made - yes, even more than the PlayStation Neo 4K - and will support 4K gaming out of the box. And you thought the EU referendum was confusing.
will it blend should you buy it?
1) It’s gorgeous
Seriously, look that sexy Stormtrooper paint job. Stunning, isn’t it?
Sure, it might stick out a little amongst all the black boxes nestled beneath your TV, but that’s okay, because it’s an impressive 40% smaller than the big hulking mass of the original Xbox One.
Not only that, but - and you’re going to love this - Microsoft has finally internalised the ridiculously massive power brick, which has been the bane of minimalists since the dawn of the Xbox 360.
But wait, there’s more! The Xbox One S can also be used vertically, just like its PS4 rival. Annoyingly though, you’re going to need a proprietary stand if you want to get in on that sweet vertical action, and it’s only included with the US$399 2TB launch edition bundle.
If you opt for the cheaper 1TB or 500GB bundles (which have no launch window at the time of writing), you’re going to have to fork out an extra US$20 for the stand. Booooo Microsoft. Boooo.
2) HDR Hype
Let’s just get this out of the way - the Xbox One S will not support 4K games, and it never will. But that doesn’t mean it can’t pump 4K resolution content into your peepers.
Microsoft has tweaked the Xbox One S’ internals enough for it to support HDR visuals in games that choose to support it. Games are also expected to run a little smoother, but it’s important to stress that existing and future Xbox One games will still be completely compatible with the existing Xbox One (minus the extra layer of HDR).
You can recap on the joys of HDR here, but briefly, it essentially increases the contrast, letting you see both dark and light areas clearly, at the same time (as shown in the example above). It’s worth noting though, that you’ll need an HDR-compatible TV to take advantage of it.
3) 4K UHD (OMG)
The Xbox One S also has a built-in UHD Blu-ray player which is a pretty compelling feature for those of you rocking 4K tellies.
One of the cheaper Samsung UHD Blu-players available at the moment costs over US$500, so the Xbox One S looks like a pretty good deal, considering all the gaming and media functionality it throws in for good measure.
Note - we’re talking about it being UHD Blu-ray player, which natively plays back UHD Blu-ray discs. That’s different to existing cheaper 4K Blu-ray players which upscale 1080p Blu-ray discs to 4K.
4) Get a grip
The Xbox One S comes bundled with an all-new (well, slightly revised) Xbox One controller. It’s white, obviously, but there’s more to it than its new dipped-in-Tipp-Ex look.
Its analogue sticks are more durable too, which hopefully means they’ll take longer to wear down and will stay nice and responsive over time without becoming loose or wobbly.
The rear of the controller is decked out in a grippier material too, which may or may not increase the accuracy of your #360noscopez when you’re trampling scrubs in CoD.
If you've got an Xbox One Elite controller (you lucky devil you), then you’re probably already familiar with the grippy rear texture.
1) Uhhh, remember Project Scorpio?
Good day. We’re selling a thing. It’s better than the first thing we released before, it’s more handsome, it has more features - it’s just great really.
Oh, before you hand over that cash, we’d like to let you know that we’ll be releasing another thing in a year’s time, which will blow this thing out of the water.
Wait, why are you putting your money away? Don’t you want this now seemingly mediocre thing?
This is pretty self explanatory really. The Xbox One S is great and all, but we know that Project Scorpio will blow it out of the water. Without going into all the details, Scorpio will land on the scene with a massive 12GB of RAM and 6 teraflops of power.
To put all of those flops into context, the PS4K Neo - Sony’s next stopgap console - will land with around 4 teraflops. Nvidia’s GTX 1080 graphics card - the one that makes grown men weep manly tears of graphical joy, has 7 teraflops. With all that power, Scorpio is expected to support superior VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive out of the box - unlike the Xbox One and One S.
It goes without saying then, that Microsoft’s Scorpio console, if it delivers, will be an absolute beast - and it’s apparently going to be out at the end of next year.
Unless you’re lucky enough to splash out money on consoles whenever you fancy, it seems a little silly buying the One S now when you’ve got its big Scorpio brother around the corner, waiting to outshine it in every conceivable way.
2) It doesn’t support Kinect out of the box
You’re going to need an adaptor for the Xbox One S if you want to use Kine - oh wait, you don’t? Never mind then.
(In its defence, the voice controls can be quite useful. At times).
Right. Should you buy the Xbox One S or not?
If you’re an existing Xbox One owner, the three main things that will appeal to you about the One S are its 4K media smarts, cavernous 2TB hard drive, and improved design.
All are great reasons to upgrade, but we’d recommend waiting another year and a bit, sticking with a similar gaming experience, until the Xbox Scorpio lands in a crash of thunder.
If you’re still rocking an Xbox 360 however, then the One S will be glorious - a gift from the gaming gods, letting you finally put your trusty control to rest. The upgrade makes much more sense, as you’ll be blessed with far more power and features. But again, you’ll still be in the shadow of Scorpio’s ever-approaching launch.
Having said all that, we have no idea how much Scorpio will cost, but we bet our entire first-gen Pokemon collection that it’ll be a pretty penny more than the One S’ US$399 launch price.
If you’re not planning on snapping up a 4K TV by the end of next year either, then there’s no point buying the Scorpio, as all of the extra power you’llbe paying for would be going to waste.
Essentially then, it’s a personal decision. If it were up to us (as existing Xbox One owners), we’d definitely wait. If we were Xbox 360 owners though, we don’t think we’d be able to resist a whole year of glorious current-gen gaming - especially with the likes of Gears of War 4 and Sea of Thieves tantalising us with with their shiny graphics.
This could all of course change when Sony announces its mysterious (but confirmed) PS4K Neo, so we’ll have to revise our thoughts when Sony finally spills the beans.
Who ever said being a gamer was easy?