In the opening moments of Microsoft’s E3 conference, they revealed their newly redesigned and resized console the Xbox One S. As I watched the announcement video running down the specs, features and design, I couldn’t help but think that this is the console Microsoft should have announced back in 2013. I know what you are thinking, the life of being an early adopter means you are investing in a console that down the line will get revisions as it adapts to current and modern advances. What I am referring to is more so the vision and direction that the Xbox One S is driving towards.
Let’s start with Kinect, the highly controversial peripheral that came bundled with the original Xbox One. On its own, Kinect is a decent piece of tech that allows not only voice control of console functions, but also the ability to add video to your stream. This is not what Kinect was supposed to be aimed towards though. It was initially marketed as an integral part of the Xbox One infrastructure and future game development. As this generation matured it was clear to see that Kinect was not catching on with consumers as well as developers and it was eventually decoupled from the Xbox One. Dropping the device from the standard bundle allowed the Xbox One to settle its price point a little closer to its rival, PlayStation 4, giving consumers much better options.
The Kinect was initially a major piece of Microsoft’s push for cable TV functionality in the console. This functionality carries over to the Xbox One S with the inclusion of integrated IR port. This port gives the console the ability to control home theater equipment in the home. The Xbox One S doesn’t have the Kinect proprietary port on the system board, instead opting to support it via a separate USB cable. This doesn’t mean that console voice commands have been dropped, as I feel it’s the best part of what Kinect had to offer. Microsoft is releasing Cortana on Xbox One and that system will support slightly modified Kinect voice commands to the console through a standard headset.
The Xbox One S does right by supporting all modern resolution outputs (720p, 1080p, 4K (HDR)). Although the console can only up-scale games to 4K, it has the ability to output 4K streaming video and BluRay. 4K televisions are becoming more affordable and it is good to see the Xbox One S support this resolution format in this capacity.
Microsoft has taken notes on what was right, and more importantly, what was wrong with the original Xbox One, and used it to drive their vision for the Xbox One S. They are still able to have the Xbox One S as a centerpiece in a home entertainment system, and yet have the console be focused on gaming. The console appears to be the new baseline model for Microsoft, as we are seeing deals and sales all over the internet for the standard Xbox One consoles. The Xbox One S is Microsoft’s attempt to address their mistakes with the initial iteration of Xbox One, and to pave the way for their premium console next year, the Scorpio. While they still have a way to go with their communication, Microsoft is showing that they can actively adapt to mistakes mid-gen and redirect momentum to future projects.
The Xbox One S is the console Microsoft should have announced in 2013; competitively priced, with support for all modern formats, no forced peripherals, and clear focus on games. Let’s hope this new console is a step in the right direction and helps to right the ship that the original Xbox One left sinking.