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Xbox One S review: The Xbox One moves into the 4K generation

Mark Hachman | Aug. 3, 2016
But it's only worthwhile if you own or plan to own a 4K TV.

Xbox One S controllers
Mark Hachman

The Xbox One controller (left) versus the new Xbox One S controller (right).

Besides altering the scheme from black-on-black to white with black accents, only very subtle changes differentiate the standard Xbox One controller from the one that comes with Xbox One S. They include a textured back that promises a better grip for sweaty hands, and a 3.5-mm audio jack in the front that allows you to easily plug in a headset or headphones. The new One S controller is also Bluetooth-enabled and can be used with a Windows 10 PC sans a dongle or cord.

Xbox controller textures
Mark Hachman

A subtle texture on the white One S controller helps sweaty palms grip the controller.

Both controllers are otherwise virtually identical, though the One S controller feels slightly more “squished” from the side, perhaps in keeping with the compact feel of the One S. The shoulder buttons are both less pronounced and firmer than the original Xbox One’s controller, without quite as much travel distance and play.

A snappier interface...well, sort of

Gamers tend to fixate on frame rates, visual quality, and the graphics horsepower available to games on their console. But one of the shortcomings of the original Xbox One is much simpler: the lengthy boot time. My system currently requires a whopping 1 minute and 20 seconds just to actually load the main UI, and as much as 1 minute and 47 seconds before the standard notifications (“External storage ready”) disappear. The One S required just 45 seconds.

However, if you compare that to a standard Surface Pro 4 running the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, 45 seconds seems like an eternity. The SP4 takes 20 seconds to launch from a cold boot, and just 3 seconds to resume from a sleep state. Clearly there’s room for improvement here, and the fact that you can’t (officially) swap out the internal hard drive for an SSD means that performance will still lag. Even if you were to go that route, switching to an SSD would inflate the price of your console while reducing the amount of available storage. (Unless you really have deep enough pockets to buy a 2TB SSD.)

Another issue is that the user interface itself seems to require time to “warm up.” The first time you try to open up the left-hand sidebar interface, the system seemingly lags for a second or two. Using the shoulder buttons to navigate back and forth between the Dashboard’s sections is satisfactory, though it seems that every so often the One S doesn’t register a button click.


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