The Xbox One S is a successor to the original Xbox One and the predecessor to the Xbox One X, Microsoft’s 4K capable console. The Xbox One X will be available internationally for $499 Tax, which is approx. Rs 36,000 directly converted. Microsoft launched the Xbox One S internationally a year ago. Its price in India is Rs 29,990 for the 500GB variant. In the US, the Xbox One S is selling for about $280, which is roughly Rs 20,000. So yes, you are paying more when you buy the console in India.
If you are comfortable picking one up from the grey market, then you can get the Xbox One S without warranty between Rs 18,000 and Rs 22,000, depending on the vendor and city. But you knew that, didn’t you?
Spec-to-spec comparisons between the Xbox One S and the PS4, PS4 slim and the PS4 Pro are all over the Internet. What we will talk about here is whether you should get one? Is it worth it? What are the alternatives and which is the right console for you? Of course, we’ll keep the Xbox One S at the centre of it all, since this is the Xbox One S review.
Build and Design
Kicking things off with the build and design, it is drastically different from the original Xbox One. The big bulky VCR like design has been replaced with a sleek white console that will make any entertainment center look sexy. The console can be propped vertically too, but you will have to purchase an additional stand for that. The big and ugly power brick is gone and is now built into the console. The on button isn’t touch sensitive anymore. It’s a physical button, which is a very good thing, as the original Xbox would go off even with the slightest touch to the button.
In terms of connectivity options, you have an Ethernet port, optical out, IR port, 2 USB ports, an HDMI in port, HDMI out and the power socket. There is one USB port on the front. There is no Kinect port on the console and if you want to use the Kinect, you will have to purchase a separate adapter. Microsoft has officially stopped production of the Kinect, which should tell you everything you need to know about the company’s motion sensing gadget.
Overall, the build and design of the Xbox One S is far better than its predecessor. The only downside is that since it’s white, the console will get dirty quite easily and you will have to clean it regularly.
The controller is the same as the one you get with the Xbox One, with a few key changes. It’s a Bluetooth controller this time around, so, yay! It’s also white, which means you will have to put in the effort to keep it clean. It has a textured back, which is a subtle change when compared to the controller you got with the orignal Xbox One, but it makes a big difference for those who sweat a lot. It provides better grip.
The Xbox One controller was one of the best in terms of ergonomics and these subtle changes make it even better. The only downside to the controller is that it still runs on two AA batteries, which is a bummer. You will have to invest in the play and charge kit if you want the controller to function like a rechargeable one.
Xbox One S vs PS4: Which one should you consider?
If its third-party games you are looking at, then they run almost at par on both consoles. Yes, there are times when third party games on the PS4 run at a better resolution or framerate (like Witcher 3, Doom, etc.), but that honestly isn’t a deal breaker. You will barely notice the difference. I played Doom on both the machines and the experience was entertaining on both.
This should be the deciding factor for you. You won’t be able to play the upcoming Death Stranding, God of War, the Uncharted games, Last of Us and more on the Xbox, for obvious reasons. But, the Xbox is also home to some fantastic exclusives, including Gears of War, Halo, Cuphead, Ori and the Blind Forest, Forza, Sunset Overdrive and more. If you want to play online with your friends, chances are you will get the console they have. What exclusives you prefer and what consoles your friends have, should be the number one deciding factor for you. It has to be mentioned though that PlayStation has a larger library of exclusives when compared to Xbox.
There is a huge debate online as to whether backward compatibility is all that it’s made out to be, and I think it is. There are a lot of Xbox 360 games that I have and I can play them on the One S, with backwards compatibility. I missed an awesome game like Alan Wake when it launched on the 360 and it was only on my Xbox One that I had a chance to play it. Backwards compatibility is a factor worth considering. Microsoft has announced original Xbox games backwards compatibility and this will only add to your personal library.
Sony, on the other hand has made it clear that backwards compatibility is not something they are considering.
If you like gaming on your PC and Xbox One, then Microsoft has you covered there as well. When you own an ‘Xbox Play Anywhere digital title’, it’s yours to play on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC. Needless to say, that all upcoming Xbox One exclusives are play anywhere games.
External HDD support
Both, the Xbox One and the PS4 support external hard drives through USB ports. You have to make sure that the external drive is USB 3.0 compatible though. Be it a mere 500GB or a 4TB drive, you can expand the storage of your console by simply plugging in an external drive.
Home entertainment is one place where the Xbox One S trumps the PS4 and PS4 Pro. To begin with, it has 4K HDR Blu-ray support, which competing consoles don’t support. It also supports Dolby Atmos in case you have a compatible system, which is another thing missing from the PS4. Both consoles support Netflix in 4K, while Amazon Prime Video or Hotstar apps are not available in India for the consoles, as of writing this product and software review.
Online gaming and free games
To play games online you will need an Xbox Live Gold membership. You will get a 14-day free trial when you pick up the console, but here is why you should consider sticking with it.
- You get about 5 free games every month with your Gold membership. That includes three Xbox One titles and two Xbox 360 titles, which you can play using backwards compatibility.
- You can play multiplayer online games with your friends.
- You get special discounts on games every month.
Xbox Live Gold membership is priced at Rs 699 per month, or you can pay Rs 3999 for 12 months in one go.
Sony has something similar on offer. You get two PS4 games with your PS Plus subscription, along with the ability to play online multiplayer games. You also get PS Plus special discounts.
PlayStation Plus membership is priced at Rs 599 per month, or you can pay Rs 4439 for 12 months. There is also a quarterly subscription, priced at Rs 1869.
Xbox Game Pass
Xbox Game pass is a Netflix-like subscription service for games. You pay Rs 699 per month (this is separate from your Gold subscription) and you get access to a large library of games (more than a hundred) to download and play. The library is refreshed every month (just like Netflix). This doesn’t mean that all the games change every month. A few are added and a few are removed. If you like a game that you are playing with Game Pass and would like to own it, you will get it for a 10 percent discount. This is a great option for those that are new to gaming and new to Xbox and want instant access to a large library of good games and don’t want to buy them overnight.
Sony doesn’t have such a service on its platform.
Should you buy the Xbox One S?
Well, that is the million-dollar question. To answer, I’d like to reiterate that if its third-party games you are looking at, then they run almost at par on both consoles. Yes, there are times when third party games on the PS4 run at better resolution or framerates, but it isn’t a deal breaker. Your decision should be based on two factors only – what console exclusives do you prefer and what console are your friends playing on. The latter is only if you want to play online. Microsoft has a slew of services, such as backwards compatibility, 4K Blu-ray playback and more to make the console an enticing offer.
One can’t ignore the fact that the console is a year late to launch in India, which means that if you wanted an Xbox One S, then you probably already got it through other sources. If you are looking to buy one, you can get it cheaper in the grey market without warranty.
If raw performance is what you are looking for, then you may want to hold your horses for the Xbox One X. Sony’s PS4 Pro is already available in India at an MRP of Rs 38,990 and if you know where to look, you can get one without warranty for around Rs 33,000.
If you have the original Xbox One, then upgrading to the Xbox One S isn’t necessary as the upgrade isn’t significant. You may want to hold off for the Xbox One X or consider the alternative.