Here's how the Xbox One S stacks up to the original

It's smaller and supports 4K video streaming, but not 4K gaming

Microsoft launched the Xbox One S earlier this month, revitalizing its current-generation console lineup with some new features. Here's how it stacks up against the previous version.

The Xbox One S is 40 percent smaller than its predecessor and is built to stand on its side, unlike the Xbox One. It also packs support for 4K streaming video, and 4K Blu-Ray playback, but not native 4K gaming.

Here's the bottom line: It's a big upgrade from the Xbox 360, and possibly worthwhile for people who need a little extra room on their TV stand or those who could benefit from 4K video. But existing Xbox One owners with standard HD TVs probably don't have a reason to buy one.

From the outside, the new model feels very different from the monolithic, black Xbox One. The One S power supply has moved inside its bright white case, rather than residing outside the console in a massive power brick. That's a win for people who needed to find some place to stick the transformer behind their televisions.

On the inside, the Xbox One S offers some video quality improvements. It supports streaming 4K video from Netflix and Amazon and playback of 4K Blu-Ray disks. But users will find that there's currently a dearth of 4K content available, and getting any benefit from it will require an ultra-high definition TV.

The Xbox One S will also let users get better video quality from games that support high dynamic range video, but none are out yet. Gears of War 4, which is expected out later this year, will be one of the first to use it.

If you think all of that means you'll be able to play 4K ultra HD games, think again. That's being saved for Project Scorpio, the code name for a new Xbox One console supposed to come out next year.

The Xbox One S will upscale non-4K games so they look good on an ultra-high resolution screen, but I couldn't tell a difference between a game played on the Xbox One and One S.

The controller for the One S has been tweaked slightly to be a bit easier to grip, and it's also compatible with Bluetooth in addition to Microsoft's proprietary wireless connection standard. That means it will work with Windows 10 PCs and tablets, in addition to Microsoft's console.

It's a move that pairs well with Microsoft's push to bring Xbox games to Windows 10, along with support for letting Windows 10 PCs stream gameplay from a paired console.

With current-generation consoles, the Xbox One has consistently sold fewer units than the Sony Playstation 4. The One S feels like an attempt to better sell that console to people who are either already owners of a PS4, or those who haven't yet upgraded from their Xbox 360 or PS3.

It's unclear how the Xbox One S will stack up against an upcoming revamped PS4. Leaked shots of the console recently surfaced online, and it looks like the new PS4 could give Microsoft a run for its money.

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Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
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