It's been awhile since I had a console, the last one being a Sony Playstation 3 which I sold last year. It was time time for a new console and a change, so having gone through weeks of research and talking to people the decision was made… For the first time ever I was going to have a Microsoft console, and not the base model but the newest Xbox One S with 1TB of storage and to free games (Forza Horizon 3 and Gears Of War 4).
There were a few things I wanted in a console that led me to my choice.
The primary one was that it needed some sort of 4k support, and it does this with its 4k UHD Blu-ray player, streaming video and some games up-scaled.
Secondly I wanted a game catalogue different to what I was used to. The Xbox One succeeds two-fold with its Xbox Exclusives and the fact it has the ability to play a huge selection of Xbox 360 games.
Thirdly I wanted media and streaming of some sort. This has excelled my expectations with the ability to play many codecs of music and video, plus almost replace my new Chromecast as well as the ability to stream games to my laptop to play anywhere in the house!
Fourth and finally I wanted it to be a at piece of kit that just looks awesome, and I believe the Xbox One S is the greatest looking console since the Sega Dreamcast.
The Xbox One S is a pimped up Xbox One in a 40% smaller body. It's tiny! Compared to my original PS3 it looks very small, with a stunning white finish with little dimples and sharp edges.
It has three USB 3 ports, two on the back and one on the front, HDMI out, HDMI in (for complete integration of the system with your TV), Ethernet connection and digital audio out.
Internally it has a 1TB hard drive and has been tweaked and sped up since the original Xbox One. In real terms this means games run better, and the console can output 4k and HDR with compatible to televisions. The extra grunt in the machine means games can run up to 7% faster (from 27fps to 36fps) while the majority will run around 3%-4% faster (source Digital Foundry).
The controller has also been tweaked, and now can run via Bluetooth so that it can be used with a PC (useful when streaming).
There is also a 4k UHD Blu-ray player as standard, meaning you can make the most of the new UHD Blu-ray discs and watch them in glorious 3840 x 2160. I've clicked through Independence Day 4k and it's quality far surpasses steamed 4k which is more akin to a 1080p picture. Normal DVDs and Blu-ray discs look spectacular when played through the Xbox One, which has amazing up-scaling when using either 1080p out 2160p. HDR is catered for also, and should make a difference to films and games.
Most games are cross platform these days, and side-by-side comparisons with the Playstation 4 show them to play identically. It's with the exclusive titles and backwards compatibility where the Xbox One shines.
Forza Horizon 3 is arguably the best looking and playing racing game on this generation of console. Gears Of War 4 is one of the best looking and playing third person shooters, while the console is home to the amazing Rare Replay collection, Halo Collection and more.
Unlike the previous generation, each game needs to be installed on the machine and take up huge amounts of space, what's more they can take ages as they can also download data. Gears Of War 4 took around 78gb to download, which to hours even on a fast connection (it was a digital download, but others games have also downloaded around 40gb as well as the disc!)
The console has another trick up its sleeve though backwards compatibility. Even more games I've missed out on such as Left 4 Dead series, the Banjo Kazooi series and so much more. There are hundreds of compatible games, and the list gets bigger monthly.
Graphically games look nothing short of stunning in full 1080p or upscaled 4k. If you have HDR, then this adds more depth of colour. There is little to no stutter or lag when playing even the most intensive of game.
Similarly audio is outstanding, and with a great subwoofer the games take on a whole new dimension.
Media Support & Streaming
As well as the already mentioned 4k Blu-ray player the Xbox One S excels in other areas. You can plug in USB sticks, USB hard drives or use good old CD, DVD or Blu-ray.
Should you wish to stream content to the Xbox One from your phone or PC, click on the Chromecast button and select “Xbox One”. If you already have a Chromecast, you'll have the option to stream to either! This feature alone is amazing, meaning you can stream films and music from apps and play them on your TV through the Xbox. What's more, internet connection seems much faster on the Xbox than a Chromecast.
Possibly the greatest streaming feature though is the “Stream” to Windows 10 option. Simply download the Xbox app on your laptop or PC, connect to your Xbox and hit the Stream button. It's amazing to see games with these graphics playing on a laptop, with little to no lag depending on your connection (on my 42mb connection the Xbox picks it up as 33mb and 95% of the time there's no lag, but you do get the odd hiccup). Just remember to use a Xbox controller on your laptop.
I took a gamble when buying the Xbox One S. Everyone I know have Playstation 4's. Everyone I asked said get a PS4. There were games I wanted to continue playing in the series such as Uncharted, Killzone and more, but making a list of pros and cons only made me realise more it was time for a change.
The Xbox One S is aesthetically pleasing console, with a quiet fan, great feature-set and a promising future. It runs on a version of Windows 10, meaning you also get Edge browser and a ton of other Windows goodies. The console is so much more than I dreamt it would be, with some killer features and most importantly, does everything and more that I wanted it to do.