Hardware Review: Xbox One S

Hardware Review: Xbox One S
 
 

The Xbox One S should have been the system Microsoft unveiled back in 2013. In an ideal world, that’s what we would have gotten: a slim, aesthetically pleasing box with 4K video output and HDR capabilities. Instead what we got was a black slab of plastic, that looked more like a giant’s paper-weight than a gaming system.

The Xbox One S is a nice piece of hardware – pleasing to look at, and with enough assorted bells-and-whistles that are sure to turn the heads of tech enthusiasts. But with the more powerful Scorpio slated for a late 2017 release window, I’m struggling to see who the system is for.

Out of the Box

For our review we received the limited run Xbox One S 2TB console, coming in at $649.00. The system comes packaged with:

  • Xbox One S system itself
  • HDMI Cable
  • Vertical Stand
  • Xbox One S Controller

The Review

The Xbox One S has a number of features that differentiate it from the original system. First and foremost is the size. Coming in at 40 percent smaller, it’s a welcome change from the original Xbox One, that – from a distance – people would often confuse for a VCR. What makes the feat more impressive is that it now houses the power supply internally, meaning you don’t have to deal with a large, obtrusive power brick behind your cabinet.

Microsoft makes use of that reduced size by adding a vertical stand to the mix. The system can now be oriented on its side. This is a great way to save space, especially amongst the other systems, controllers, and peripherals that are likely cluttering up the surfaces around your TV.

The form factor goes beyond size and orientation too. The system sports a white matte finish, with a simple rectangular casing. One half of that has a grating pattern that, while clearly functional (as it lets more air into the system), is also pleasant to look at. As a whole I appreciate the physical design – in fact, I think visually the Xbox One S is the nicest looking console on the market.

The controller has also seen a slight redesign. The back features light grips mirroring the material of the system, so holding it for extended periods is a lot more comfortable. It’s not as textured as the Elite, but it’s preferable to the base controller. The slight bezel around the guide button has been removed, and instead incorporated into the main shell – a design choice that looks cheaper, but is physically unimportant. What’s more is that it now sports Bluetooth functionality, meaning PC users won’t have to use an annoying dongle to hook the controller up.

There is one caveat to the system’s reduced size and redesign, and that has to do with fan noise. Compared to the original box, the Xbox One S does run slightly louder under load – but this is to be expected; a smaller fan needs to turn more frequently to maintain a stable operating temperature. Compared to the PlayStation 4 however, the Xbox One S still runs much quieter.

The Xbox One S has also been poised as a media playback machine – sporting 4K resolutions for select video content. If you have a TV that can support such resolutions (3840x2160, approximately four times that of 1080p sets), then some services like Netflix will be able to serve that content up to you, provided you have the bandwidth. Games don’t run at 4K however; they are merely upscaled.

Another selling point is the system’s HDR capabilities – or High Dynamic Range. Again, to use this feature you need a TV that can support it. With it, you’ll notice greater contrast between light and dark colours, making images pop a little more. Currently no games make use of the feature, with the only confirmed titles being the upcoming Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, and Scalebound.

Overall

If the Xbox One S was the system Microsoft lead with back in 2013, I have a feeling that today's console climate would be very different. Visually pleasing to behold, and with 4K and HDR video support, it has a lot going for it. The slick and sharp form-factor make it the nicest looking console currently on the market. 

As an upgrade from the base unit however, there really isn’t much there to warrant the purchase – unless you routinely find yourself devouring Ultra HD content. With the more powerful Scorpio also slated for a late 2017 release, I’m struggling to see who the Xbox One S is for. Maybe if you have enough disposable income, and don't currently own the original system.

Other SKUs are slated for released on August 23 – a 500GB model ($499.00) and a 1TB model ($599.00). Both of these will also come bundled with Halo 5 Guardians, and a download code for Halo Master Chief Collection.




 

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Comments Comments (39)

 
Posted by Ryzlin
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 11:43 AM
5
Pretty sure the S is just meant to be the standard X1 going forward. Aside from the elite consoles (maybe?) you won't see any of the older consoles available anymore. Same as when the slim 360 came out really. It's not really a 'new' console but the latest model because otherwise the gap between the Scorpio and the X1 would be too big. I imagine the Scorpio will be quite expensive and parents aren't going to buy that. I think the amount of people who were thinking of picking up the X1 and decided to wait for the Scorpio instead is quite small comparatively (my partner is one of them and it's mainly for the VR). It might also be Microsoft's way of being able to price their consoles higher again. Prices for the X1 have been steadily dropping since before Christmas which certainly made them more popular. Picking up a brand new 1tb console now can be as low as $429 and we've been seeing those prices for the past two or more months. We know that consoles make barely any money, so I can't blame them.

Annnnd that turned into a much longer comment than I meant it to.
 
 
 
Posted by emetic
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 11:49 AM
-
I like it. Cool
 
 
 
oconnomiyaki
Posted by oconnomiyaki
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 12:00 PM
2
11 August 2016, 11:43 AM Reply to Ryzlin
Pretty sure the S is just meant to be the standard X1 going forward. Aside from the elite consoles (maybe?) you won't see any of the older consoles available anymore. Same as when the slim 360 came out really. It's not really a 'new' console but the latest model because otherwise the gap between the Scorpio and the X1 would be too big. I imagine the Scorpio will be quite expensive and parents aren't going to buy that. I think the amount of people who were thinking of picking up the X1 and decided to wait for the Scorpio instead is quite small comparatively (my partner is one of them and it's mainly for the VR). It might also be Microsoft's way of being able to price their consoles higher again. Prices for the X1 have been steadily dropping since before Christmas which certainly made them more popular. Picking up a brand new 1tb console now can be as low as $429 and we've been seeing those prices for the past two or more months. We know that consoles make barely any money, so I can't blame them.

Annnnd that turned into a much longer comment than I meant it to.
This is correct, The Xbox One S isn't what the iPhone S series is and isn't intended to be sold at a slight premium beside the original model. The original model is dead (and Kinect with it too), which is why Microsoft has basically started a fire sale to get the remaining stock of the originals flushed out of the channels. (Discounts aren't as aggressive in NZ as they are in America, sadly.)

You're also right about Scorpio. No one knows what it is yet and how much it will cost, so I think the whole "Wait for Scorpio" comments are rather premature. Given that a graphics card that is capable of what they are talking about costs like $900 by itself, I don't expect Scorpio to be a mass-market item. Instead, it will be a premium device for hardcore enthusiasts. Think of it like how some people spend thousands of dollars on audio equipment while most people are happy to listen to Spotify on their phone through the packaged earbuds.

I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see Scorpio launch at NZ$1200 or more. I'm definitely thinking the question should be reversed.
 
 
 
Posted by AdamC
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 12:16 PM
2
Not that I have much reason to buy one atm, but I would wait for more info on Scorpio before I'd buy one, let alone upgrade from an xb1
 
 
 
Posted by birdman
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 1:44 PM
-
Looks good, as I don't already one an Xbone it definitely makes it a more attractive potential purchase. The main issue I have is not enough spare time to game to do two consoles justice! Maybe just the XB exclusives though...
 
 
 
Posted by Zolen
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 2:08 PM
-
11 August 2016, 12:16 PM Reply to AdamC
Not that I have much reason to buy one atm, but I would wait for more info on Scorpio before I'd buy one, let alone upgrade from an xb1
I am in this boat also I think. The VR thing will be big and it seems pointless sinking money in a console until that is released to the market properly (and perhaps even tested a bit... who am I kidding I will get it as soon as I can because I'm a sucker and I like new toys)
 
 
 
Posted by Coddfish
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 2:09 PM
6
They moved the main USB port to the front of the machine instead annoyingly tucked away on the side, 10/10
 
 
 
Posted by Ryzlin
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 2:26 PM
-
11 August 2016, 12:00 PM Reply to oconnomiyaki
This is correct, The Xbox One S isn't what the iPhone S series is and isn't intended to be sold at a slight premium beside the original model. The original model is dead (and Kinect with it too), which is why Microsoft has basically started a fire sale to get the remaining stock of the originals flushed out of the channels. (Discounts aren't as aggressive in NZ as they are in America, sadly.)

You're also right about Scorpio. No one knows what it is yet and how much it will cost, so I think the whole "Wait for Scorpio" comments are rather premature. Given that a graphics card that is capable of what they are talking about costs like $900 by itself, I don't expect Scorpio to be a mass-market item. Instead, it will be a premium device for hardcore enthusiasts. Think of it like how some people spend thousands of dollars on audio equipment while most people are happy to listen to Spotify on their phone through the packaged earbuds.

I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see Scorpio launch at NZ$1200 or more. I'm definitely thinking the question should be reversed.
I'm expecting it to release at just under $1000, but not until the end of 2017 or 2018. With how quickly computer technology advances that's when they'll be able to make the console slightly cheaper.

Isn't it funny how when the PS3 first released that price was unreasonable, but now for a top of the line hardcore X1 it's expensive but not too bad?
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 2:45 PM
-
11 August 2016, 02:26 PM Reply to Ryzlin
I'm expecting it to release at just under $1000, but not until the end of 2017 or 2018. With how quickly computer technology advances that's when they'll be able to make the console slightly cheaper.

Isn't it funny how when the PS3 first released that price was unreasonable, but now for a top of the line hardcore X1 it's expensive but not too bad?
Didn't the PS3 launch at $1200ish?

Also that was nearly a decade ago, we expect prices to go up in general.
 
 
 
oconnomiyaki
Posted by oconnomiyaki
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 3:55 PM
-
11 August 2016, 02:26 PM Reply to Ryzlin
I'm expecting it to release at just under $1000, but not until the end of 2017 or 2018. With how quickly computer technology advances that's when they'll be able to make the console slightly cheaper.

Isn't it funny how when the PS3 first released that price was unreasonable, but now for a top of the line hardcore X1 it's expensive but not too bad?
Unfortunately, the Reserve Bank seems dead set to the point of bloody-mindedness on tanking our dollar, so come 2017 I don't expect it to have as much purchasing power. I fully expect Microsoft and Sony to take us back to the dark days of $1200 consoles given what the current models still go for.
 
 
 
Posted by Ryzlin
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 4:15 PM
-
11 August 2016, 03:55 PM Reply to oconnomiyaki
Unfortunately, the Reserve Bank seems dead set to the point of bloody-mindedness on tanking our dollar, so come 2017 I don't expect it to have as much purchasing power. I fully expect Microsoft and Sony to take us back to the dark days of $1200 consoles given what the current models still go for.
I'd like to think that they've learnt their lesson from then, but you're right about the reserve bank. The only up side is that you're unlikely to see an increase in the standard model price because a lot of paces know that the $649 mark is about right for the nz audience.

I was thinking for the Scorpio that it would be delayed at some point and that would allow the components to drop in price, and hopefully the overall console as well. I guess it also depends on what the Neo actually is. Sony and Microsoft might end up with a little bit of a price war. Or at least Microsoft might try to come in under the Neo. Sony don't tend to care too much about the Xbox price drops.
 
 
 
Posted by CoffeeAddict
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 4:40 PM
-
It looks pretty awesome, alas all my friends on on PS4 and it would wipe my annual gaming budget making it a pretty looking media centre with no games. I'd happily win won... :)
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 4:56 PM
-4
Meh, Quantum break just released on steam.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 5:00 PM
-3
11 August 2016, 02:45 PM Reply to drunk_monk
Didn't the PS3 launch at $1200ish?

Also that was nearly a decade ago, we expect prices to go up in general.
Funny, in pc gaming they go down.
 
 
 
Posted by emetic
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 5:05 PM
1
Heyyyy let's all forget about the specs and just focus on the important thing: they're back on track with visual design, after the disastrous XB1.. That's honestly the most crucial sign that they care about their product, so all else will follow.
 
 
 
Posted by Ryzlin
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 6:34 PM
2
11 August 2016, 05:05 PM Reply to emetic
Heyyyy let's all forget about the specs and just focus on the important thing: they're back on track with visual design, after the disastrous XB1.. That's honestly the most crucial sign that they care about their product, so all else will follow.
You've got a point. That and they actually listened when people said they wanted a USB port in the front.
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 6:48 PM
-
11 August 2016, 05:00 PM Reply to ThatUndeadLegacy
Funny, in pc gaming they go down.
Really? So to build a top of the line machine last year it would cost less than a top of the machine 5-10 years ago?

Because with most things prices go up over time, as does wages etc.
 
 
 
Posted by OriginalSin
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 8:19 PM
-
11 August 2016, 06:48 PM Reply to drunk_monk
Really? So to build a top of the line machine last year it would cost less than a top of the machine 5-10 years ago?

Because with most things prices go up over time, as does wages etc.
"For a top of the line system" is a completely different subject.
He's talking about a system with fixed specs, so the short answer is, yes.
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 8:30 PM
1
11 August 2016, 08:19 PM Reply to OriginalSin
"For a top of the line system" is a completely different subject.
He's talking about a system with fixed specs, so the short answer is, yes.
Except he responded to me saying how it would Ge expected for the next top of the line console to be more expensive.

So it wouldn't be surprising for console x2 at launch to be more expensive than x1 at launch accounting for 8 years between launches.

To which he responded that pc gaming gets cheaper so clearly can't be refering to fixed specs as that would make no sense as a response as the PS3 has lower specs than the Scorpio will have.
 
 
 
Posted by OriginalSin
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 8:53 PM
-
11 August 2016, 08:30 PM Reply to drunk_monk
Except he responded to me saying how it would Ge expected for the next top of the line console to be more expensive.

So it wouldn't be surprising for console x2 at launch to be more expensive than x1 at launch accounting for 8 years between launches.

To which he responded that pc gaming gets cheaper so clearly can't be refering to fixed specs as that would make no sense as a response as the PS3 has lower specs than the Scorpio will have.
Fair point, I didn't read the full reply string of those comments.

For a single GPU system it should be cheaper this year than last year solely because the cost of the latest generation GPU's are cheaper than the last generations at launch. It's only the exchange rates that are making the price rise at the moment.
 
 
 
Posted by Outlaw213
On Thursday 11 Aug 2016 8:59 PM
-
I think i'll wait and see how Scorpio works out.
 
 
 
Posted by BlakeyNZ
On Friday 12 Aug 2016 1:04 PM
-
I see the One S to be aimed at people who want a second console maybe to go along side a PS4 etc. the 500gb price point kinda backs this up. I wasn't keen on the holes originally but the more I see it the more I think its sexy
 
 
 
Posted by Bunnny
On Friday 12 Aug 2016 4:44 PM
-
11 August 2016, 12:00 PM Reply to oconnomiyaki
This is correct, The Xbox One S isn't what the iPhone S series is and isn't intended to be sold at a slight premium beside the original model. The original model is dead (and Kinect with it too), which is why Microsoft has basically started a fire sale to get the remaining stock of the originals flushed out of the channels. (Discounts aren't as aggressive in NZ as they are in America, sadly.)

You're also right about Scorpio. No one knows what it is yet and how much it will cost, so I think the whole "Wait for Scorpio" comments are rather premature. Given that a graphics card that is capable of what they are talking about costs like $900 by itself, I don't expect Scorpio to be a mass-market item. Instead, it will be a premium device for hardcore enthusiasts. Think of it like how some people spend thousands of dollars on audio equipment while most people are happy to listen to Spotify on their phone through the packaged earbuds.

I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see Scorpio launch at NZ$1200 or more. I'm definitely thinking the question should be reversed.
25% on online microsoft store or so says facebook ads
 
 
 
Posted by Bunnny
On Friday 12 Aug 2016 4:45 PM
1
11 August 2016, 02:09 PM Reply to Coddfish
They moved the main USB port to the front of the machine instead annoyingly tucked away on the side, 10/10
I liked the side placement, less clutter up front.
 
 
 
Posted by emetic
On Friday 12 Aug 2016 5:40 PM
-
12 August 2016, 04:45 PM Reply to Bunnny
I liked the side placement, less clutter up front.
I had my XB1 sitting sideways so I could have the usb slots at the front, even though it looked terrible on the shelf with all the cables coming in the "side". :-/
 
 
 
Posted by emetic
On Friday 12 Aug 2016 5:42 PM
-
Bluetooth controller is a great idea too.
 
 
 
Posted by Nibblo
On Friday 12 Aug 2016 7:09 PM
-
11 August 2016, 12:00 PM Reply to oconnomiyaki
This is correct, The Xbox One S isn't what the iPhone S series is and isn't intended to be sold at a slight premium beside the original model. The original model is dead (and Kinect with it too), which is why Microsoft has basically started a fire sale to get the remaining stock of the originals flushed out of the channels. (Discounts aren't as aggressive in NZ as they are in America, sadly.)

You're also right about Scorpio. No one knows what it is yet and how much it will cost, so I think the whole "Wait for Scorpio" comments are rather premature. Given that a graphics card that is capable of what they are talking about costs like $900 by itself, I don't expect Scorpio to be a mass-market item. Instead, it will be a premium device for hardcore enthusiasts. Think of it like how some people spend thousands of dollars on audio equipment while most people are happy to listen to Spotify on their phone through the packaged earbuds.

I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see Scorpio launch at NZ$1200 or more. I'm definitely thinking the question should be reversed.
Scorpio is going to come out at between $500-$600 USD. MS will be getting the parts from AMD at a drastically reduced price (scale of economy) and will be nowhere near PC part prices, also factor in the price from over a year away and I don't see it cracking 500 so expect a NZ price of 700-800 dollars.
Still a lot of money sure but within reach of serious gamers as the PS3 had a hefty price tag at launch and it sold very well here.
Anyway we will found out exactly what the price is on released will definitely take my words back if it's over $800 NZD.
 
 
 
Posted by polarbear
On Friday 12 Aug 2016 7:53 PM
-
From reading multiple reviews, is there any real reason, other than aesthetics that would justify buying an xbox one S over the standard XB1? I do not have a 4k or HDR capable TV, and simply wanted to get an Xbox for its exclusives.

Interested to hear peoples thoughts.
 
 
 
Posted by Falcone0
On Saturday 13 Aug 2016 12:31 PM
-
Its a nice looking console
 
 
 
Posted by Overdrive5000
On Saturday 13 Aug 2016 2:00 PM
-
I'm not going to upgrade till Scorpio comes out
 
 
 
Posted by BlakeyNZ
On Sunday 14 Aug 2016 8:23 AM
-
12 August 2016, 07:53 PM Reply to polarbear
From reading multiple reviews, is there any real reason, other than aesthetics that would justify buying an xbox one S over the standard XB1? I do not have a 4k or HDR capable TV, and simply wanted to get an Xbox for its exclusives.

Interested to hear peoples thoughts.
No, there's no real reason to upgrade. But if you wanted an Xbox now's a good time with the deals you can get on the older design. This is just a new push to increase sales that worked as sales increased 75%.
This console is essentially in my eyes Phil Spencer trying to distance himself abit more from the Mattrick days, A whole new console design with Kinect removed backs this up
 
 
 
Posted by Nick2016NZ
On Sunday 14 Aug 2016 3:43 PM
-
Definitely a huge improvement over my VCR unit, but I'll wait for Scorpio I think.
 
 
 
Posted by NZBuc
On Sunday 14 Aug 2016 9:21 PM
-
I think this is either: second console; or for people who are about ti buy an xbox

very few people will upgrade (unless more have 4k or HDR TVs than I realise!)


One more very positive aspect though:
integrated universal Power supply, and reduced size, means people who do travel a,lot with their xbox should look at this!
 
 
 
Srassy
Posted by Srassy
On Sunday 14 Aug 2016 10:52 PM
-
That's a really nice looking console. Don't own an Xbox One but I would be happy for that to go in the tv cabinet. Looks like they've made sensible design decisions too.
 
 
 
oconnomiyaki
Posted by oconnomiyaki
On Monday 15 Aug 2016 12:56 PM
-
12 August 2016, 07:09 PM Reply to Nibblo
Scorpio is going to come out at between $500-$600 USD. MS will be getting the parts from AMD at a drastically reduced price (scale of economy) and will be nowhere near PC part prices, also factor in the price from over a year away and I don't see it cracking 500 so expect a NZ price of 700-800 dollars.
Still a lot of money sure but within reach of serious gamers as the PS3 had a hefty price tag at launch and it sold very well here.
Anyway we will found out exactly what the price is on released will definitely take my words back if it's over $800 NZD.
Given that the Xbox One launched at $749 here and that was when our dollar was much stronger, there's not a snowflake's chance in Hell that Scorpio launches for under a grand. Well, $999 I could see, though, given the psychological factor of keeping it at three digits. But US$600 is already NZ$830ish, and then you have to not only chuck on GST which takes it up to NZ$950ish. And that's not even considering PPP. If the Reserve Bank gets its way with our dollar then we could be looking at even more.

I think US$500 will be what they bring it in at, though, which would be NZ$799 (inc GST) at a straight conversion of today's rates. And if history has told us anything, video games are never treated to a straight 1:1 conversion when it comes to currency.
 
 
 
Posted by emetic
On Tuesday 16 Aug 2016 5:46 PM
-
S is for Slim.
 
 
 
Posted by Goonertron
On Wednesday 17 Aug 2016 3:18 PM
-
12 August 2016, 04:45 PM Reply to Bunnny
I liked the side placement, less clutter up front.
I'm with you, I like to hide cables.
 
 
 
Posted by Goonertron
On Wednesday 17 Aug 2016 3:21 PM
-
12 August 2016, 07:53 PM Reply to polarbear
From reading multiple reviews, is there any real reason, other than aesthetics that would justify buying an xbox one S over the standard XB1? I do not have a 4k or HDR capable TV, and simply wanted to get an Xbox for its exclusives.

Interested to hear peoples thoughts.
Go for a second hand one on trade me. They go pretty cheap.
 
 
 
Posted by ptys
On Thursday 18 Aug 2016 9:53 AM
-
Nice design although they should have gone for a better price point if they want to outsell PS4.