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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.

But these updates also come accompanied by some quirks in performance. In particular, my experience with the game streaming feature (which allows Windows 10 PC users to remotely control and play games from their Xbox One) was far less successful on the One S than my original console.

Even though I reproduced my earlier setup— the Xbox One S was down a floor, and several rooms away—performance was inconsistent. On one night, I was able to connect a Windows 10 Anniversary Update PC to the One S, and play Forza Motorsport 6 and Forza Horizon 2 at Medium detail levels, with just occasional disconnects. A day later, and the PC couldn’t find the One S at all.

Granted, I’ve had better luck playing games like the slower-paced The Witcher 3 over streaming, which probably places less stress on the connection. So much of the experience when streaming games depends on the game, the network quality and bandwidth, and other factors. But for me, the experience wasn’t quite as good.

I will say, however, that the wireless connection between the controller and the Xbox One S is excellent. While the One S controller can connect wirelessly to your PC via Bluetooth (click the pair button on the controller to initiate it), you may find, as I did, that it will first successfully connect to the console. That may have played a role in my streaming issues, since I had better luck connecting a wired Xbox 360 controller to my PC and playing that way.

Yes, the One S plays games just fine

We haven’t forgot that the Xbox One is a game console. Perhaps you like to play the occasional console game (Halo, after all, has yet to come to PC)—maybe you like to play more often than that. If so, you’ll be happy to know that the One S is virtually the same gaming experience as the Xbox One.

There are some minor differences, due to improved hardware. The launch edition of the Xbox One S has a massive 2TB hard drive, which allows games to be stored locally and launch quickly. (That said, the cheap USB external drive attached to my original Xbox One does provide the equivalent amount of storage with acceptable performance.) Games that advantage of the One S’s HDR capabilities are also on their way, like Gears of War 4 and Forza Horizon 3—though it’ll take months before they arrive.

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And the One S is supposed to upscale games if you’re playing on a 4K TV, but so far, I haven’t seen anything that indicated that is indeed happening. I connected the Xbox One and the One S to different HDMI ports on the same 4K display, then played the same games to try and discern any difference. Of the games I tried, all looked identical between the two systems, and I noticed no differences in frame rate.


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