Microsoft’s living room-centric take on gaming systems pays dividends for fans of UHD/4K and HDR. Today at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) the company announced the inevitable release of a new Xbox One S that swaps out the HD Blu-ray drive for an Ultra HD Blu-ray drive. The result is a gaming machine that can also handle home theater tasks like playing disc-based movies in the highest possible quality and streaming 4K content. Better yet, it also supports HDR gaming in addition to HDR video when playing Ultra HD Blu-rays.
While we do know that the new console will play Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and support HDR through HDR10 (which is the standard), what is not yet known is if it will support Dolby Vision. Furthermore, Microsoft makes no mention of HDR when it comes to streaming video, it only refers to games and movies playing from a disc.
What’s astonishing about the new console is the price. At $300 for a 500GB version and $350 for a 1TB model, it effectively eliminates the notion of paying a premium for the Ultra HD Blu-ray drive. You buy the console, you get the drive free. Microsoft also said it would sell a $400 “limited quantity 2TB launch edition.”
Years ago the PlayStation 3 became a dominant force and helped popularize the HD Blu-ray format. Recently there were whispers that an update to the PlayStation 4 was on its way, but it appears that Microsoft has beaten Sony to the punch with a console that adds significant new capabilities. It’ll be interesting to see how Sony responds to the Xbox One S. The official release date for the launch edition is August 31, 2016 and it is available for preorder now.
Here’s an official video from Microsoft that goes through the key features and offers a good look at the new device: