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Xbox One S review




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Xbox One S review
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Our Score:



  • Smaller than Xbox One
  • 4K game upscaling
  • It's a cheap UHD Blu-ray player
  • HDR compatible
  • Improved, grippy controller


  • Not native 4K in games

Key Features

  • UHD Blu-ray
  • 4K games upscaling
  • HDR 10 support
  • HDR gaming compatibility
  • HDMI 2.0
  • 2TB storage
  • Manufacturer: Microsoft
  • Review Price: £350.00

What is the Xbox One S?

Microsoft has released a new Xbox, although it's not exactly a new console. The Xbox One S is a subtle upgrade to the existing Xbox One, rather than a proper successor. Don't be fooled, though, because it has more than a few surprises in store.

While the Xbox One S is deep down the same console Microsoft released in 2013, there have been significant changes. It’s far slicker and prettier, fixing many of the original console's aesthetic issues. It also adds 4K and high dynamic range (HDR), which means your games and videos can make the most of the latest TVs.

It doesn’t offer the big graphical bump of the PS4 Pro. Nor does it benefit from the major horsepower boost of the next-generation Xbox, codenamed Project Scorpio. But what it does have may make it the best-selling console of 2016: it's the most affordable UHD Blu-ray player on the market.

The Xbox One S is the only console to play 4K Blu-rays. This could make the Xbox One S a surprise hit with movie fans on a budget, who are looking for an inexpensive way to enjoy 4K content. It could help rocket 4K Blu-ray sales too, in the same way the Sony PS3 did with standard Blu-rays. What’s more, it’s actually a decent UHD Blu-ray player.

Video: Xbox One S review

Xbox One S – Design and Controller

The Xbox One has had a total makeover, and it's a huge improvement. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed what the "S" stands for, but we're taking a guess at "slim". The case is 40% smaller, which makes the Xbox One S only a little bigger than a PlayStation 4, and smaller than the dinkiest of mini-ITX PCs.

This is particularly impressive given that the power supply is now integrated. No longer will you need to find extra space to squeeze in a massive power brick on the side.

Xbox One S

It’s also possible that S is for "sexy". Suddenly an Xbox is the most attractive thing in my AV rack, and that’s not something I ever expected to write. The chunky air conditioner-style grilles have been replaced with a subtle pinhole design. The original's glossy black plastic, which was a dust magnet and suffered scratches way too easily, has also been ditched.

The Xbox One S is matte all over, and has a Stormtrooper chic thanks to its white with black accents. I like it, but some may find a bright white box too conspicuous. I’m sure it won’t be long before other colours appear; there's already a limited edition blood red Gears of War 4-themed version on the way.

There are plenty of less obvious tweaks too, but they're welcome nonetheless. The power switch is now a physical button, which is a lot less susceptible to accidental activation than the Xbox One’s touch-sensitive offering. There is a USB port and a controller-pairing button at the front, where before they were hidden away at the side.

Can the new Xbox One please stand up? Yes it can. The old Xbox One could only be placed flat, but the One S can be flipped over onto its side. You’ll need a plastic base to hold it up for ventilation purposes. This comes bundled with the 2TB edition, but otherwise it’s sold for an extra £20.

Related: PS4 Pro vs Xbox One S

Xbox One S

The controller has been tweaked, too. It feels half way between the basic Xbox One pad and the super-expensive Xbox One Elite Controller. It retains the ergonomic shape of the previous model, but the rear now benefits from a more grippy texture. Apparently, exchangeable colour covers are an option too.

I’m not particularly bothered about pimping up my controller, but I’m a fan of the added traction. I played Star Wars: Battlefront plenty during testing, and I found the controller upped my game. The finish made it a little easier to maintain a stable grip while fighting rebel scum, and my accuracy improved. I died less in manic moments, where a quick combat roll can make all the difference.

The thumb sticks are made of a new material, supposedly more capable of withstanding punishment. Only time (and abuse) will tell how tough it is, but I didn’t feel any difference in use.

Xbox One S

As for power, the pad works on AA batteries. They last a good while, so I don’t mind them. Some people prefer the Sony PS4 controller’s built-in battery approach. It may be more environmentally friendly, but the battery has proved to be poor and I'm forever having to plug it in. I wish Microsoft would ship controllers with its "Play and Charge" kits – it would be a good compromise.

Thankfully, Microsoft has finally added Bluetooth functionality to the controller. This won’t be a big deal to Xbox users, but will be a godsend for PC gamers looking for a decent gaming pad. Now PC gamers can use Xbox controllers without shelling out for an Xbox USB Wireless Controller Adapter.


August 9, 2016, 10:36 pm

Decent video review. There is hope for "Trusted Random Reviews" yet.

Its tempting but will see the other offering later in the year.


August 10, 2016, 8:18 am

What could have been, if M$ had tried to produce the best they possible could. Instead of the cheapest they could get away with.


August 10, 2016, 12:03 pm

AV fans? maybe the Video part but if you're into hd audio (THE A PART) you're out of luck

ron king

August 12, 2016, 4:17 pm

Just what I need, a dedicated UHD player for Atmos content and an Xbox One S for everything else? That makes no sense. Microsoft missed the mark on this one. The Xbox One S should have been complete with the latest Audio and Video formats.

Nick Jones

August 17, 2016, 8:20 pm

Exactly, it makes about as much sense as the Xbox One S not having the ability to upscale Blu ray movies. I have a Seiki 4K (HDMI 2.0) television that doesn't natively upscale. It does have an optional upscaling HDMI cable, BUT that cable only supports HDMI 1.4 and so 1080p max from the console and it then does an okay job of upscaling Blu ray but game upscaling looks worse than natively upscaled to 4K from the Xbox One S.


August 22, 2016, 12:11 am

Let's get this all into perspective. The Xbox is a GAMING machine that does some media bits and bobs. Anyone serious about home theatre would have a dedicated player anyway. And if they don't, their problem.


August 24, 2016, 2:43 pm

They do have a price point to maintain, and profitability is a concern unless you're just in it for the lulz.


August 30, 2016, 7:08 am

They should have planned better, instead they planned for the minimal they could get away with


September 7, 2016, 10:54 pm

Okay, Microsoft missed the mark by not including the Atmos codec at launch. I'll give you that...

What are your thoughts on Sony's PS4 "Pro" not bothering to include a UHD player AT ALL?

I was genuinely looking forward to buying the Pro, but my enthusiasm has been almost entirely quashed after this news.


September 7, 2016, 10:56 pm

Meanwhile, in other news, Sony's newly announced PlayStation 4 Pro has no UHD player whatsoever. Critics suggest they planned for "the minimal they could get away with," whatever that means.


September 8, 2016, 6:27 am

Try n think of your own comment instead of coping others, I know it's m$ way to do cheap copy n pastes of others products, you don't have to copy them.


September 8, 2016, 2:53 pm

I did nothing of the sort. I quoted your ignorant post within the context of my original thought, expertly mocking your initial fanboy garbage post.

In the future, proofread your idiotic thoughts before posting them. Perhaps you should spend less time on the internet and more time studying. Your literary skills leave much to be desired.


September 8, 2016, 3:25 pm

OH god another grammar nazi on a efing comments section. Is that all you've got!!!!
If my post was so wrong and ignorant, why didnt you ignore it??? I tell you why, cuz it has the ring of truth about it and you don't like that.


September 8, 2016, 3:44 pm

How does it stack up against the Nvidia Shield for general streaming purposes, e.g. playing videos (including MKV) over DLNA. Can it run a Plex server? Obviously it doesn't yet handle Atmos whereas the Shield does.

It has the big benefit of playing UHD blurays, but I'm wondering whether it could take on all of my media playback needs.

My Panny UB900 is only of any use for playing discs, its capabilities for other media are pretty useless. I might be tempted to sell it, forego a little bit of image quality and get one device that does everything I need.


September 12, 2016, 11:08 am

Is it still trusted reviews 'best console' or has the microsoft money run out?


September 16, 2016, 2:21 am

It would have been far too expensive. Perhaps they will offer it in the Scorpio though as that is to be the high end one. Better than sony at least seeing they are not even offering a 4k player in the PS4.


September 19, 2016, 1:36 pm

I just purchased the Xbox One S and I noticed one issue with 4K UHD playback. When enabling HDR it seems to light up the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen more than when HDR is turned off. I've attached a picture for you to see a comparison of the 4K UHD disc...

I thought this was an issue with my TV's HDR settings, but when I watch Marco Polo via Netflix on the Xbox One S the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen aren't "lit up" and basically look invisible. When watching other HDR content through the TV's native App the black bars are fine, too.

Can you test this or is anyone else noticing this issue? I have a Sony 930c.


September 23, 2016, 5:42 pm

No Dolby Atmos or DTS:X capability means the Xbox one s is worthless. 4K video capability isn't that big of a deal compared to standard HD video, but not being able to bitstream HD audio is a HUGE factor and meas the XBOX one s is not a true all in one media device. The PS3 had the ability to bitstream HD audio, the fact that the xbox one s can't, is a GIANT fail! This is why any true media/game enthusiast owns the Sony Playstation and not the Xbox, unless they decided to purchase the Xbox for gaming only and have a dedicated player for their media. Either way, Microsoft will never be taken seriously until they offer these basic features that should be standard in any modern media device. Without HD sound, 4K video is worthless. The sound is the most important part to watching a movie in the way it was intended. You don't see any movie theaters skimping on the audio.....why microsoft decided to is beyond me.

Stacy K

September 24, 2016, 1:39 pm

I have the 2016 X800D and noticed the same thing watching some 4k/HDR content on mine. Yours is much better than mine. Mine turns just shy of white during HDR content.


September 24, 2016, 1:44 pm

There's a full thread on everything here...a temporary fix was found by going into the 'Dynamic Range' setting on your Sony TV.



September 24, 2016, 5:24 pm


Albert Penello
MS Director of Product Planning already clarified that it is not a hardware problem but an incoming software update.

"Can you provide more details about the bitstream support you mentioned? Will this mean direct bitstream, so Dolby-HD, DTS-HD, DTS-X and Dolby Atmos would be sent to the reciever to decode?

I also hope, that you mentioning this today, means it's a top feature request being worked on right now by the team.

"If it wasn't something we were considering strongly, I would not have mentioned it. :)

It's really more a question of "when" then "if", but I've learned my lesson in trying to predict the future with certainty".

Mostly I wanted to address that it's a request that we have heard, and let people know there is no HW limitation. It's a software update and now it goes into the large bucket of feature requests that the team has to prioritize."

Sony has clearly gone down the cost cutting route and not added the needed hardware so the PS4 slim and the incoming Pro are useless if you want ultra HD Blu-ray player etc.
Only Xbox gives you these capabilities.


September 24, 2016, 5:26 pm

Link to MS statement regarding software update



October 16, 2016, 2:12 pm

I'm looking into the various systems now to upgrade from an Xbox 360 4G system my wife decided I needed back in the day. I think you missed one big area in the review...how this connects to my home PC and WIN10? I've heard faint comments about the connectivity with WIN10 but the focus of your article seems to by all 4K, UHD, chipsets, audio output. I'm more interested in how this will fit in appropriately and integrate with my cable box, blueray DVD player, Apple TV, my desktop PC, iPad, iPhone, Android phones, and Surface Pro 4? Remember the early promises of the defuct Windows Media Player? Can I stream live TV through it and to the other devices? These are my hopes for this system


October 27, 2016, 8:15 am

True Dolby Atmos etc was announced yesterday.


October 27, 2016, 8:19 am

True Dolby Atmos etc was announced yesterday at the ms event..

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