More than three years Microsoft has taken to release a revision of the game console Xbox One. Since the beginning of August the successor One S is in the shops and is preparing to become a permanent quest as well in the home cinema area. Reason for this is that the developers donated the gamers hub an ultra-HD Blu-ray drive, which deserves an “innovation” award.
Equipped with the UHD functionality, the One S is really very ready to take on even the UHD Players. Also important features such as HDMI 2.0a including HDCP 2.2 and HDR-10 are on board, but the sound still requires some catch up. You can get version of 2 terabytes of hard drive space for around 400-Euro. The technically identical models with 1TB (349 euros) and 500 gigabytes (299 euros) are in the market available as well.
On the outside, a lot has happened compared to the original: the housing of the One S is white instead of black (not ideal for use in the dark home cinema), it has shrunk 40 percent and the power supply has been integrated finally, I really disliked the big extra box for that on the previous model. Before you can get started, you first have to load a 1 gigabyte, so-called “Day-One-Update” to the console. For the playback of 4K Blu-Rays you also need Microsoft’s free Blu-Ray player software, which takes up about 32 megabytes of memory.
In addition to a vertical stand as well as power and HDMI cables, a gamepad is also included, which controls the console wirelessly with batteries or via USB cable. We could not find any detailed instruction manual in the packaging nor online, but would you really require that? For the separately available media remote control (picture below) you are asked to pay an extra 20 euros.
The system menu with colorful and differently sized tiles resembles Windows. The usability via Gamepad however os for non-gamers something to get used to, but after some exercise it works at least decently. You do not have any buttons for audio and subtitling. Unfortunately, the separately available media remote control can not compete with the Panasonic and Samsung UHD encoders on this.
The One S itself does not offer either a display or a lot of buttons: the front of the slot is just a slot for the slot-in drive and a USB jack, just the push buttons for power, joy pad and disc ejection. On the back is a HDMI output, which is based on 4K / 60p, HDCP 2.2 and HDR. The HDMI input can loop through image signals, such as the TV program of a set-top box. There is also a Toslink output, a LAN socket and two additional USB inputs. Analog interfaces have disappeared completely, which is nor a big deal in my opinion.
They are probably hardly needed in modern home cinemas, especially if one is devoted to the App offer in the Microsoft Store: Apart from the lush but paid offer of games and films, there are also free apps, including the usual suspects like YouTube , Netflix, Amazon Video, Maxdome and Watch-ever, whose contents can be streamed in 4K resolution. Webradio can be heard for free via the TuneIn app. In addition to Blu-ray playback, you also have to download an app for playing CDs, via Microsoft’s free media player you can also upload photos, music and video files from USB sticks or a DLNA server. The One S supports MP3, WAV, AAC, ALAC, FLAC, WMA as well as Hi-Res audio streams; DSD but not. On the video side, the multimedia center swallows the most common formats, but from our 4K test clips, the console played only those with HEVC encoding (H.265). JPEG, TIFF, PNG, BMP and GIF formats are supported for photos, but 4K images appear only with reduced resolution on the screen. The UHD Blu-ray drive also plays 3D Blu-Ray, but refuses to play self made silverlings; With DVD-Rs and CD-Rs it had no problems.
The console requires a 50-second delay from the standby mode until it is ready for operation. It took about 30 seconds to read the UHD disc from “Mad Max: Fury Road”, the complex Java menu of the Blu-ray to “The Amazing Spiderman” needed to load 47 seconds. The power consumption could be almost halved with 31 watts in idle and 36 watts in Blu-ray operation compared to the old Xbox.
Sound and Picture Quality
First, the positive: the console plays UHD Blu-Rays and Blu-Rays in top quality. The output of high-dynamic range content in the HDR-10 format works perfectly, but the competition format DolbyVision is not supported. The UHD playback on TVs without HDR is not a problem for the Xbox One S, but a manually adjustable HDR / SDR conversion, as offered by the Panasonic DMP-UB900, is missing. It is possible to select 8, 10 and 12 bits per color channel in the video setup, but this only affects games and streaming content. Unfortunately, the Xbox One S is missing a video equalizer.
With the 4K scaling of DVDs and Blu-Rays, the console does not have any weaknesses, but not quite the quality of high-quality Blu-ray players such as the Pioneer BDP-LX 88, which becomes visible, for example, on the line flicker of our DVD test classic “Six Days, Seven Nights”. Output of the native disc resolution is not possible, all content (including streaming) is scaled to 720p, 1080p or 4K. Contrary to the Xbox One, which did not give 50 Hertz to the market start, the One S plays accordingly encoded discs error-free. Less beautiful: As with older DVD players, the layer change still makes itself felt with a short break.
The most annoying thing for us was the end: identical to the Xbox One, the new One S does not output the HD audio formats in bitstream form . Fortunately, Microsoft announced an update for 2017 that makes the console compatible with Dolby Atmos and DTS X. We will see.
The Xbox One S is more compact, less power-hungry and technically much better equipped for the 4K future. The purchase is only useful if you do not have an Xbox One yet, or if you own a 4K TV with HDR support and still need an Ultra HD Blu-ray player. Else you can stick with you Xbox One.
Xbox One S
- Vastly reduced physical footprint
- HDR gaming
- 4K & HDR streaming
- Kinect adapter required
- 4K gaming limited to upscaling