There are few rivalries in the gaming world matching that of Microsoft and Sony - and since the new generation of consoles graced our living rooms over the past 3 years, Sony’s PS4 has enjoyed a significant lead.
However Microsoft are looking to readdress the balance with the emergence of the Xbox One S.
The aesthetics of the console have improved dramatically. Many fans have taken to calling the Xbox One S the ‘slim model’ and it’s easy to see why - the new slender white model not only looks more visually pleasing, but actually weighs 40% less than its previous incarnation. Thankfully, the old giant power pack is absent too with a more sensibly sized cable taking its place. It’s also slightly quieter than the previous console, helping to douse any fears that your Xbox could explode any minute.
The controller seems to have had something of an upgrade; we are now treated to a nicer texture for the back of the handles and a 3.5mm headphone jack, allowing you to make better use of Xbox One’s Cortana voice-command interface. Aside from that, the only other minor difference is the addition of Bluetooth support, which means that the controller can be used with a PC too.
Perhaps one of the most exciting features, however, is the Xbox One S’ 4K compatibility. Whilst the PS4 and previous Xbox One were able to playback 4K Ultra HD, they don’t currently support HDMI 2.0 meaning that you cannot get the full potential from the 4K streaming. This feature is very exciting, considering it’s now possible to watch Netflix shows in 4K (provided you have paid extra for the subscription), as well as Ultra HD Blu-Rays. Unfortunately there aren’t any games out now that utilise 4K Ultra HD, so until the end of the year when the new 4K releases hit the market, it’s not possible to make the most of this feature. This could also pose a problem for those who wish to play the upcoming Gears of War 4 or Forza Horizon 3 in HDR, but have to suffice with an original Xbox One.
Price-wise, the launch edition retails at £349, which comes with a 2TB hard drive. There are plans to release some slightly cheaper editions later this month, with a 500GB for £249 and a 1TB model at £299. It is probably wiser to at least take a 1TB model, considering it is only £50 pricier, and won’t leave you with a full hard drive after barely getting Netflix and two games on the console. As well as this, a new edition with Gears of War 4 and a 2TB hard drive will be hitting the market at the end of the year for £399, so it may even be worth waiting till then.
To say it is an improvement on the previous Xbox One is an understatement - what started off as a console that’s full potential was not maximised, is now a worthy contender for the PS4. The HDR capabilities are particularly exciting, but without any games to fully utilise this feature, it’s just the film buffs who will get to reap the rewards the new system has to offer. It is arguably smarter, if you are considering a new 4K Blu-Ray player, to just opt for the Xbox One S as a way to make the most with your money. And how great will it be to see Gears of War 4 in glorious 4K?