Right from the get go I disliked the Xbox One’s physical presence, it’s bulky, heavy, and awkward, which isn’t really a recipe for success when it comes to finding room for it amongst all the modern technology dwelling in your living room. As I wrestled it out of the confusing packaging, I knew I was going to trade it in for a slimmed down version as soon as one became available and about a month ago I boxed up my old console and swapped it out for its lighter, sleeker counterpart.
The Xbox One S is 40% smaller than the Xbox One, which is a huge difference and one you’re not likely to miss when the box is handed to you over the counter. Walking away from your retailer of choice, or your front door if you’ve opted for home delivery, you’ll notice the console is lighter too, which is definitely a bonus when it needs to be moved. There’s a built in power supply now as well, so no more bulky power adaptor to try and conceal (or accidentally trip over!). The packaging itself is far more intuitive when it comes to unpacking its contents, although that could be because the Kinect sensor isn’t being bundled in with the console anymore (more on this later).
I like that in terms of size I no longer own an Xbox that dominates every other piece of equipment around it, there’s even space in front of the Xbox One S on the shelf it sits on for the controller, the play-and-charge kit cable, and my headset. The white matte finish is pleasing to the eye too and for all the other neat freaks out there it doesn’t seem to attract anywhere near as much dust as the black partially glossy finish on the Xbox One.
Aesthetics weren’t the only reason I’d decided to jump back into the console market though, the Xbox One’s 500Gb hard drive had started to become restrictive. Needless to say having a full terabyte at my disposal is going to be freeing, up to the point I exhaust its capacity and buying an external hard drive becomes inevitable. I have a feeling if you really want to get the most out a trade in offer it’s the 2TB version you want to be targeting.
I can’t really comment much on the 4K upscaling for games, or the HDR (high dynamic range), as I’ve only really played Mafia III on the Xbox One S so far and the differences compared to playing it on the Xbox One were pretty marginal.
There are no ports on the side of the Xbox One S, instead the accessory pairing button and the USB 3.0 port have migrated to the front of the console and everything else is at the back, which should produce a cry of joy from those who have multiple peripherals or a charging cable as you’ll no longer struggle to attach these things after manhandling the console to gain access to the side port. It’s a small change, but a very welcome one in my opinion.
And now we come to my least favourite thing about the Xbox One S, the Kinect adaptor. As I mentioned earlier the Kinect sensor isn’t being bundled in with the Xbox One S, so if you still want to use one you’ll have to buy one separately unless you’ve got an old one you’re hanging on to. However, you need an adaptor to get it to work and for a limited time Microsoft are sending these out free of charge to people who have already purchased a Kinect sensor. All you need to do is head to one of Microsoft’s customer support live chat windows and talk to one of their advisors, a process that’s fairly straightforward and took me all of about 5 minutes to sort out.
I’ll admit at the moment this doesn’t sound so bad and it isn’t, that is until the adaptor arrives. If memory serves it took all of about 7 working days for my adaptor to come through the letter box and I know for a fact that it turned up a lot quicker than the estimated delivery time I’d been given. Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. The outer packaging was partially ripped, the caps on some of the cables had sustained minor damage (pictured), which fortunately was only cosmetic, the two boxes feel like very cheap plastic that have been printed by an inexpensive 3D printer, and there are so many cables it’s impossible not to tangle them in some way or other (pictured). You even have to use a second plug socket, which can be massively inconvenient. It’s such a shame because this really negates all of the good work that’s been done with reducing the size of the console and getting rid of its bulky power adaptor. I think it also shows that the life of the Kinect sensor could be drawing to a close, or at the very least its importance has been downgraded in favour of Project Scorpio.
As a result, I’ve used my Kinect sensor once with the Xbox One S and since then its sat dormant. Do I miss using it? Honestly, no, not really. There are two games I used it with, Dead Rising 3 and Alien: Isolation, both of which wouldn’t have lost anything from getting rid of their Kinect functionality. I primarily used the sensor to automatically log in to my Xbox Live account, occasionally issue a voice command the most frequent of which was ‘Xbox show notification’ to look at an achievement, and to bring up a purchase straight away by holding up a QR code rather than manually entering a whole load of numbers. These things were convenient, but I can still get the desired effects from just using a controller with only a tiny increase in time investment.
So, do I think the Xbox One S is worth picking up? If you don’t already own an Xbox One, absolutely. If you do, you might want to think about the money you’re investing, but ultimately I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.