Xbox One S Review – Good but not Great Console

On August 2016 came the Xbox One S an iteration of the Xbox One developed by Microsoft that would compete with the PS4, the PS4 Slim, the PS4 Pro, the Nintendo Wii U and the Nintendo Switch. While certainly an upgrade from the original model the Xbox One S still has shortcomings.

The One in the name stands for all in one entertainment system. At launch this console had little to offer the gaming community let alone the entertainment industry so the name felt out of place. Most of the entertainment the Xbox One S could offer was made available by other gaming systems or entertainment services.

Now in 2019 the name feels much more proper yet this is not to say that the Xbox One S is the best or greatest console currently in the market.

The Xbox One S is a step in the right direction but felt suppressed when compared to the PS4 Pro, dedicated gaming laptops, custom PCs and its successor. We will discuss what can make the Xbox One S worthwhile all things considered. First we will discuss the HDR capabilities. Afterwards we go over how the Xbox One S persists on. Next we delve into why it is good but not a great console. We will end with the present and looking ahead.

Xbox One S Specifications

The specifications of any device or system can help tell you a lot about the capabilities.

As much I would love to go into depth regarding the design and ergonomics I will refrain myself from getting too excited. Instead I will go over some highlights. The CPU, GPU, storage, memory, ports and optical disc drive are all subjects of major interest when considering a console.

The CPU is a custom 1.75 GHz AMD 8 core APU. The GPU runs at 914 MHz. What this means is that both the CPU and GPU give this model a few more graphical features then the previous iteration. The Xbox One S can render HDR or high dynamic range and can can upscale to 4K. The upscaling does look graphically better than standard 1080p but is not true 4K.

Storage ranges from 500 GB to a whopping 2TB. Approximately 138 GB is used for the operating system.

The front has one USB 3.0 port. The back of the Xbox One S has

  • One power port for plugging in the power cord
  • One HDMI out intended for your TV
  • One HDMI in intended for your HDMI-compatible/satellite receiver
  • Two USB 3.0 port intended for wired accessories though only one is compatible with the Kinetic Adapter
  • One IR out intended for IR Blaster
  • One S/PDIF audio port for optical audio
  • One Ethernet port for ethernet cables
  • One Lock port gives you the option to put a laptop lock on the console for security purposes

The smaller design, internal power supply and 2TB storage were so appealing to me. With the vertical stand this console fits snugly next to my TV. No more AC adapter lurking around my power stripe. The 2TB allows me to remain worry free running out of memory for while. Of course this depends on each individual as my current digital digital game library is small when compared to others I have seen.

Even though the hardware fit great as a minimalist package the software was another story. The UI or user interface still remains sporadic in the sense that it occasionally functions seamlessly. To this day my system still suffers from long buffer time when checking for the latest updates in the my games and apps menu. My connection is certainly not the problem and test I run on my Xbox S system point towards hardware and software limitations. This is a quality of life issue that largely gets ignored because there are other options.

HDR Capabilities

When 4K graphics started making way into video games they looked nice. Most were rendered by upscaling so they were not true 4K during a time in when some products were being advertised as 4K ready.

PCs where a different scenario as they could run true 4K. The difference between 4K and HDR is in the extra pixels 4K has over HDR. HDR on the other hand offers better lighting when displaying dark and bright colors this is done to the best of your TV’s ability. Combine the two together and you get a very detailed, and colorful rendering only then can some screens utilize their full visual prowess.

With the right TV monitor and cables one can enjoy the dynamic range of colors your TV and Xbox One S is able to display. The campaign in Gears of War 4 is wonderful at toying around with HDR. At times I found myself more immersed in sightseeing rather then surviving Swarm shooting at me on Insane.

Of course graphics are never the main attraction in any video game. The content is what really matters in video games. This is why consoles like the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One S are able to enter the market. Though many pundits and fanboys in the industry said the Nintendo Switch would flop it did the exact opposite. The Xbox One S could have done better but by no means flopped completely bleeding out Microsoft’s profits. The content that the two had to offer where found nowhere else. Business is business so naturally that entails competition in the same industry but not for the same dollars. This remains untrue if a monopoly has been established. There has been no such farce in the gaming industry. Truthfully there are no console wars do not listen to those puff piece headlines.

Xbox One S Persists On

Despite facing fierce competition the Xbox One S is still a viable option as a console whereas the same may not be said about other console systems. It seems under the supervision of Satya Nadella and Phil Spencer Microsoft has been steadily at work improving video gaming for its gamers.

Hardware and software aside the Xbox One line had little to offer gamers at launch. Most video games that people did want were available for other consoles. Services such as Xbox Game Pass and Backwards Compatibility was moving very slowly adding titles people wanted to play sorry Viva Pinata.

As of now Microsoft has been busy acquiring different first party studios and improving its services for its consumers. The Xbox One S was never meant to graphically compete with other consoles it was meant to offer broad entertainment play. Though the Microsoft management team that said this were canned the Xbox One S certainly achieves that in 2019 now with much more desirable offers.

Why it’s a Good but not Great Console

It is a good console by all means considering its price in today’s market. This is a solid choice for those looking to get a gaming system that can run today’s video games without a steep price tag to go along with it.

If you are looking for the best or a great console then perhaps consider a higher end system such as the Xbox One X, PS4 Pro, a dedicated gaming laptop or a custom PC. The Xbox One S is and will remain a viable choice as a gaming console for a while thanks to updates and Microsoft’s newfound approach for their gaming services. This is not to say that it the whole design is flawless or that the software and UI is a must have. The Microsoft gaming experience still has many ways it can be improved upon. Some ways are already being offered by competing consoles.

The idea of paying for Xbox Live makes some people wither away at the thought. Xbox Gold does grant you some free games per month. Xbox Live is certainly a worthwhile purchase as it has benefits that are not outright apparent. Why some wonder jaw dropped? Granted you may not outright see the changes or even acknowledge what happens behind the scenes of cyber security as impressive as it is. Though it is a recurring subscription fee this fee pays for some pretty fantastic online security work. Ever hear of Microsoft getting hacked? There has yet to be any such occurrence for both Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus though the same cannot be said about PSN. PSN is the free version of PlayStation Plus and went about touting how it had unbreakable security.

The Present and Looking Ahead

Microsoft went back and did in fact develop the most powerful gaming console currently on the market. Though it was not the Xbox One S.

Looking ahead it seems Microsoft is leading the charge to a long needed change to the gaming industry. The conversation to digital gaming is prevalent all around the industry. Companies all around are starting to realize it makes more financial sense to follow a circular model as opposed to the standard linear model of produce, develop, sell to consumer then the consumer uses the product and then either trashes it, sells it, or keeps it gathering dust forever. The average life cycle of video games will usually see a depreciation in value for the item. For most video games this is fine as they have a limited lifespan anyways. Multiplayer games with no player activity or active servers and single player games with no replay value are good examples of seeing a limited lifespan.

This is at last coming to an end as we see stubborn companies all around go out of business. A few changes here and there can have a lasting impact on any company or video game console. It all depends on what they have to offer over the competition. If the competition has more sought after products and services then you can very well expect a trend to occur.

Gradually we are seeing a interest in maintaining value in the resources we already used. Perhaps digital gaming and digital gaming content does have a place in this world. In the form of lots of bytes as opposed to physical products tangible assets that only produce as long as they are maintained, updated or repurposed.

What are your impressions of the Xbox One S I am curious? Do you have any questions about the Xbox One S? Feel free to leave your comment, question, and feedback in the comments section below.

Xbox One S Rating
  • Content and Services
  • Design
  • Support

Xbox One S Rating

Product Review: Xbox One S

Product Description: For those seeking a retrograded gaming experience then this is the console system for you. Originally a 2TB would run a person out of 500$ USD. Keep in mind 2TB consoles were limited only to launch release. Currently the asking price for a Xbox One S is much more reasonable then it was at launch. The 1TB starter bundle is a decent Xbox One S bundle offer for the price and value being offered. This provides 3 months subscription to Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass. Xbox Live Gold is a subscription based service that allows more features then Xbox Silver. Features include cloud storage for music, movies, games, saved content. This also comes with access to Upload Studio, streaming, online voice communication and multiplayer. The Xbox Game Pass has a list of what games they offer on an official page I highly suggest reading through it to assure you find titles you enjoy as this may vary per individual. Keep in mind the subjects discussed above as the Xbox One S is a good console but not the best, greatest and must have item.

Availability: Discontinued.

6 thoughts on “Xbox One S Review – Good but not Great Console”

  1. This is the first I’ve heard of an Xbox One S my daughter has the Xbox One and we have no issues with it but we have had this system for quite some time. I was recently thinking about upgrading but now I might have to consider my options after reading your review.

    • I too have a Xbox One S and I still enjoy using it. Consoles systems will vary with what people like and dislike about them. It is all about individual preference and the wonderful thing is you have options. The Xbox One S is a fine system to choose but I had to acknowledge that there are more capable options out there as well.

  2. I was curious as to why you did not add more specifications of the Xbox S? There are surely more capabilities there.

    I myself think the article was good and informative, very well written, with the overall aspects of the gaming console compared to others.

    As I do not game much anymore myself, I leave that to my son, there are more websites that offer more experience and ratings of the gaming systems when someone is doing research.

    I think what you have discussed is very informative. The list helps others find what they need to know because that information does not come from most websites and product manuals.

    Great review thanks,


    • Hey Sherrane thank you I am glad I have helped inform you a little more about the Xbox One S. You are correct there are more specifications of the Xbox One S but I choose to discuss only the key components. The key components is what makes the system technologically different from other systems.

  3. Very nice and interesting read. I’m a video gamer and I make use of the PlayStation 4 console from Sony. Its been great I must say when opting for the standard of the PS4 Pro. Though I do not fancy the Microsoft counterpart that much but its also a worthy console too. I’ve played games on it too and it surely look so amazing with quality graphics and thats a great plus. I played on this Xbox One S and I can say its a great installment too though I never knew it offers these details, till I read it here. Very nice touches from Microsoft. 

    • Thanks I’m glad you enjoyed the read. I agree with you in my experience the Xbox One S is able to display quality graphics given it’s hardware and software limitations. The PS4 Pro is an excellent console Sony did a wonderful job with it’s design.


Leave a Comment