It’s safe to say that upon release the Xbox One was rather disappointing. When I say disappointing I’m not talking about its graphical capability, but more about how much of a backwards step it was in relation to the previous generations.
It struggled running a lot of games at 1080p/60fps which should have been the standard. Kinect 2.0 came standard with the console, which increased the price significantly. The console could only be stored horizontally, which is crazy when every console since the original Xbox from any manufacturer has had a vertical option as a standard feature. The software on the console was overly complicated compared to the 360 and was made more difficult due to pushing Kinect integration.
Sure – many people, including myself, bought one at launch and the console has consistently sold in higher numbers than the Xbox 360 did in the same timescale. This comes down to having such a long time between console cycles for the most part, but I, along with many others, expected something more forward-thinking. Now we have that with the Xbox One S.
When I say ‘forward-thinking’ I’m talking about it being future-proofed, to a degree at least. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 were very powerful consoles at release. They were capable of HD graphics and in the case of the PS3, it had a Blu-ray player. At the time of release you’d struggle to find many people with HD-ready (720p) TV sets or monitors, let alone 1080p. The PS3 for many years was the cheapest Blu-ray player around. It’s a big reason why the last generation of consoles lasted so long.
It’s just over two and a half years since the Xbox One was released and already the console is almost obsolete. It’ll be fine for the next year maybe, but after that things will start to move on with more people getting 4K TV sets and monitors. This is where the lack of forward-thinking with the Xbox One comes in.
So what makes the Xbox One S forward-thinking in comparison? There are a few points:
- 4K Blu-ray player and media streaming. 4K up-scaling only for gaming purposes (including HDR support)
- Bluetooth connectivity for controllers and other peripherals
- The console now stands vertically
- There is a built in IR blaster
The fact that the Xbox One S has a 4K Blu-ray player included and costs less than a standalone unit is pretty astounding. Being able to upscale games to 4K, which apparently still looks really good, is a great feature to have as there’s no way the console can do native 4K. HDR (High Dynamic Range) is also a nice inclusion that makes colors more life-like, although you will need content and a 4K TV that supports this. The Xbox One has a standard Blu-ray player by comparison.
Bluetooth connectivity – a feature that brings down a few barriers for users. This allows the new Xbox One controller and other peripherals to connect to the console, but it is likely that universal Bluetooth products won’t work with the console, just like they don’t for PS4. Bluetooth makes all upcoming accessories compatible with future iterations of Xbox, including Project Scorpio coming in 2017. With the Xbox One we were given another proprietary wireless standard similar to that used for Xbox 360 which, as always, was frustrating.
Yes, it’s true. The Xbox One S can stand vertically with an included accessory. What was Microsoft thinking with the Xbox One? The last consoles that could only be stored horizontally were the Xbox and Sega Dreamcast. A very strange omission indeed and one they have now rectified.
The built in IR blaster is useful for a lot of users who like to use DVR functionality and was only an add-on for the Xbox One in the form of Kinect 2.0. This was bundled with the console in the beginning, but since that idea turned out to be a well known failure Microsoft had to add this feature to the console itself. Smart move.
So there it is. All of these brand new features could and should have been included with the Xbox One when it launched back in 2013. The only possible omission being the 4K Blu-ray player due to how expensive they were. However, you also have to take into account that the console is now sold without the ‘integral’ Kinect accessory, which at the time would have knocked around £100 off of the retail price and allowed for features people would want in the near future. That would also have meant them making the software on the console more user-friendly and not tailored just to promote Kinect.
Of course people will say that the Xbox One (PS4 too) has sold in greater numbers and at a higher rate than previous generations. That is of course true. However, the biggest factor was the amount of time between the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. People saw it as a huge leap in power due to this, and now that 4K gaming and media content is being thrown into the mix they’re realizing that the console they bought is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Xbox One users luckily won’t miss out on games, for now at least. It will still be classed as the entry point into gaming on the Xbox platform; however, I can only hope that in the future, the guys and gals at Microsoft will think about what we, The Gamers, will also want rather than just doing ‘enough’ for what they think we want at the present time.