Xbox One S review

Xbox One S sets a new high point in console development

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The Xbox One S is a smart upgrade to Microsoft's existing system, but whether you'll want to make the upgrade is a slightly more complicated question.

If you've been considering buying an Xbox One already, then the Xbox One S is a no-brainer.

But if you already own an Xbox One then your decision will likely have more to do with whether you own a 4K TV that's HDR-compatible.

We liked

In short, the engineering team at Microsoft deserves a standing ovation. Condensing everything inside the original Xbox One – as well as the massive power brick – into a framework 40% of the size is a feat of engineering.

And while not every gamer will be able to appreciate the Xbox One S in all its 4K Ultra-HD, High Dynamic Range glory, those that can will be absolutely floored by the speed at which content loads over decently quick connections, and how drop-dead gorgeous games look when they're 3,840 pixels wide by 2,160 pixels high.

We disliked

While there's never a great time to unveil a smaller, more powerful system to someone who's just purchased one of the now second-tier original consoles, now seems like a particularly rough time.

Ditching the Kinect port entirely might be the final indicator that Microsoft's motion controller is well and truly dead and, as I said earlier, is one last final slap in the face to all the gamers who were forced to buy the peripheral two and a half years ago.

Microsoft's new console poses a problem in the form of a fragmented audience. While some gamers will see games in more vivid colors that are brighter and have higher contrast than those rocking the original box, others will be stuck with the capabilities of the original console. 

Does that mean you shouldn't buy an Xbox One S? Probably not. But it might mean investigating how the game looks and performs on your specific model of Xbox One before plunking down a wad of cash for the latest release.

Final verdict

But all that taken into account, it's hard to find anything tangible to dislike about the Xbox One S in its current form. By all accounts, it's a slimmer, sleeker and sexier console than the Xbox console we've had in our cabinets for the past two and a half years.

But, given all the advancements, it's hard to fathom how Microsoft plans on selling it for the same price as the current hardware.

Of course, the obvious downside is that anyone who recently bought an Xbox One is now faced with a difficult and expensive decision: is the upgraded performance, 4K HDR streaming and 2TB of storage worth re-buying the system?

If you own a 4K HDR TV or you're running out of space on that measly 500GB hard drive, the answer is an emphatic yes. If you can hold out another 12 months, however, there's an even more powerful system on the way that will blow this one out of the water.

Originally reviewed August 2016