- It’s much smaller than the original Xbox One (a 40% reduction, according to Microsoft).
- It’s white instead of black (duh).
- It plays all the same games that the Xbox One does, including backwards compatible Xbox 360 games.
- It’s capable of playing 4K video (though, notably, it’s not capable of running 4K games, which requires much more serious hardware ).
- It can run some upcoming games with HDR graphics (the lighting in the game is of a wider range, thus making it look slightly better – this only works if you have an HDR-capable TV, and most people don’t).
- It costs the same as the original Xbox One, at $299 to start.
So, should you get one? Maybe! The truth is that it depends on one crucial factor.
I already own an Xbox One – should I get an Xbox One S?
“Probably not” is the short answer here, and Microsoft would tell you the same thing.
The Xbox One S isn’t a meaningful upgrade to the original Xbox One if you’ve already got one.
It’s not intended as a “successor” to the original Xbox One in the way that the iPhone 6 is a successor to the iPhone 5, or even in the way that the iPhone 5S was a successor to the iPhone 5. Think of the original Xbox One as an iPhone 6 Plus, and this is the regular iPhone 6. Same great device, smaller form factor.
Is it prettier ? Yes. Is it smaller? Sure is. Can it be stood up vertically? You bet (with a $20 optional stand – ugh).
But unless you’re way into watching 4K/UltraHD movies (and also own a 4K/UltraHD television), there isn’t any new functionality worth buying into. There are no games that will only run on the Xbox One S, no experiences you can have that can only be had there.
Perhaps you really like the new Xbox One S gamepad, which has rubberized grips and Bluetooth connectivity (making it easy to use with PCs) ? You can totally buy that separately, and it will work with your original Xbox One.
Or maybe you were sold on the HDR gaming, and you’ve got an HDR-enabled TV ?
Only two games support this feature thus far – “Gears of War 4” and “Forza Horizon 3” – and we don’t expect it to go wide anytime soon. Unless Microsoft pays developers to add it to their games, there’s little incentive to bother.
Of course, if you just really like how it looks and are feeling ready for an upgrade, the Xbox One S is a good deal at just $299. That’s $50 less than a PlayStation 4, and it’s a brand new console. Also, yeah, it’s a hell of a looker. Agreed.
I don’t own an Xbox One – should I get an Xbox One S ?
If you are at all interested in owning an Xbox One, this is the Xbox One you should buy.
No equivocations, no caveats – the Xbox One S is now the correct purchase if you’re looking to buy an Xbox One.
It’s the best looking Xbox One you can buy, it costs the same amount ($299) as the original, and it’s got a few nice perks. You know how most game consoles have a massive external power supply? This stupid thing:
The Xbox One S has no external power supply. That’s tremendously convenient.
It’s possible you will find an older Xbox One for less money (Microsoft dropped the price to $279 recently), and you may be tempted to snag one of those instead. By all means, you do you – that’s not a bad choice either. I, personally, would drop the extra $20 for the newer Xbox One S.
What about this “Project Scorpio” I’ve been hearing about ?
You may have heard about the other new Xbox One that’s coming out.It’s currently codenamed “Project Scorpio” and is planned for launch in “holiday 2017.”
Here’s the skinny:
- It’s much more powerful than the original Xbox One/One S, capable of powering 4K/UltraHD gaming and “high-end” virtual reality headsets (like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive).
- It will run all Xbox One games, as well as backwards compatible Xbox 360 games.
- It’s going to cost a lot of money (though we don’t know how much just yet).
Should you wait for Scorpio? Probably not.
It’s planned for a holiday 2017 launch – more than a year away! – and that could totally change. Wouldn’t you rather be playing video games for the next year? “Overwatch” is pretty fantastic, and it’s out right now.
If you already own an Xbox One, or an Xbox One S, will you need Project Scorpio? Also probably not – it’s intended for folks who own 4K/UltraHD televisions, who want to play games at the highest-possible resolution, and who may want (or already own) VR headsets. By the time Scorpio launches, that group of people will be larger, but the majority of us will be fine with the current versions of Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
The right answer to all of these questions, regardless of what I’m suggesting here, is to do what makes the most sense to you.
If you’re standing in front of your wall of collector’s edition Xbox One consoles, pre-order slip for the Xbox One S in-hand, rest assured that you’ve made the right choice. If you’re holding out for a VR-capable Xbox One in 2017, keep holding out. And if you’ve just purchased an original Xbox One, I’ll see you soon in the colorful arenas of “Overwatch.”