Hands On: Xbox One S

Xbox One Hero Cover

Today, thousands of gamers around the world will be receiving their Xbox One S console that delivers a couple of new features in a smaller package. I have been using the console for the past few days and there are some notable improvements worth pointing out for those of you still on the fence about if you should upgrade or if you are thinking of diving into the Xbox platform for the first time.

The first big change is the size, while I knew it was 40% smaller, actually seeing it next to the older console really shows how much of a difference that makes. And more importantly, the fact that the power supply is internal gives it a smaller footprint in your media cabinet which makes a big difference for anyone who is tight on space or worried about airflow around their console.

Aside from the smaller footprint, for me at least, the device does run quieter compared to my older Xbox One. That is likely because my power supply for the old console has become dirty on the inside which made the fan run loudly when turned on. Overall, being quieter and smaller would be enough for me to make the purchase but there are other subtle refinements to the console.

My favorite update, and for some this is a non-issue, is that the power button to turn on the console is an actual button. On my black Xbox One, it’s a touch sensitive button that has resulted in several times the console being turned on when being accidentally bumped. This is a small change but something I quite like and adds to the overall list of improvements to the device.

Xbox One S Hero

The standard controller has also been refined and, of course, matches the color of the console too. There is a slightly textured grip on the back (not as good as what comes with the Xbox Elite) but the real benefits are that it now includes Bluetooth support (use with your tablet or phone) and the range has been extended (twice the range of the old controller).

In your hands, the controller doesn’t feel much different than the older black one but it’s the internals that count here. I have always loved the controller design starting with the Xbox 360 and there really isn’t a need to dramatically reinvent this peripheral.

The black and white theme looks excellent and one minor difference is that the Xbox button in the middle is black whereas on the black controller it is a shiny silver plastic. Also, there is a headphone jack on the bottom of the controller next to the older headphone port too.

If you have a 4k TV, the Xbox One S is an easy choice as it you can now playback content (like Netflix) at the increased resolution. The integrated IR blaster is a sweetener that makes using the console a bit easier as it has the ability to turn on other devices nearby.

Having had the console for the better part of a weekend, it’s a bit too early to give a full verdict on the Xbox One S. But, the experience so far has been excellent and Microsoft has put together a solid mid-cycle update for the Xbox One which means if you are willing to be an early adopter, the Xbox One S appears to be worth the money.

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