The updated console features the same performance specifications as the original Xbox One from November 2013, only this time with a refeshed AMD APU with lower power consumption, HDMI 2.0a output with 4K (3840x2160p) HDR support, an infrared (IR) baster, an internal power supply, redesigned wireless controllers with Bluetooth support - and most importantly, the inclusion of an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive.
Microsoft's current Xbox One is powered by an eight-core 1.75GHz AMD Jaguar APU (two quad-core modules) with 8 GB of DDR3 RAM and 68.3 GB/s of memory bandwidth. We expect Microsoft will still use an AMD APU for its refreshed console, perhaps a Bristol Ridge part, but this has yet to be confirmed. In May 2016, the company lowered the price of its Xbox One 500GB unit to $299 and 1TB bundles to $319, paving way for a few Xbox One S SKUs at a $50 lower introductory price point.
Xbox One (outside) versus Xbox One S (inside) - 40 percent smaller footprint
One of Microsoft's first steps to achieving a smaller physical footprint was by removing the bulky 9.3-inch power brick and replacing it with smaller internal power circuitry. The new base model will get a 500GB hard drive, the same as the original Xbox One, but will increase maximum storage capacity from 1TB to 2TB on higher-priced SKUs. The base 500GB model will sell for $299 / £249 pounds / €299 euros, the 1TB model will sell for $349 / £299 pounds / €349 euros, and the 2TB model will be a limited edition SKU available in select markets for $399 / £349 pounds / €399 euros.
Ultra HD Blu-ray drive in 2016 is a smart move
The inclusion of an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive is actually a strategic decision which we are glad to see Microsoft has implemented in a minor hardware refresh. While the company is preparing to launch a significantly overhauled, 6-teraflop, VR-ready Xbox at the end of 2017 codenamed "Project Scorpio," it was important at this point for a market leader to introduce the Ultra Blu-ray disc format at the lowest possible price point. Curently, Samsung, Panasonic and Philips are the only three manufacturers with Ultra HD Blu-ray players (Sony has proposed one), but they are all upwards of $399. Meanwhile, not a single original design manufacturer (ODM) has released an Ultra HD Blu-ray ROM drive for PC (we contacted Sony on the matter, and they have declined to comment for now).
Microsoft has a great opportunity on its hands to show some leadership in the Ultra HD Blu-ray market in the same way Sony introduced the original Blu-ray disc format at the lowest introductory price with the PlayStation 3 in 2006.
Image credit: The Verge
New Xbox Wireless Controller and controller "Design Lab"
In addition to the new 40 percent smaller console, Microsoft is also launching a redesigned controller with a textured grip and a steamlined white design. The new controller will be available in August for $59.99 / £49.99 pounds / €59.99 euros.
Microsoft is also opening up an online Xbox Controller "design lab" where users can select from a variety of 8 million color variations to customize the controller body, D-pad, thumbsticks, button layout and other features. The Xbox Design Lab is open for orders now in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico for $79.99, while laser engraving is also available for an additional $9.99.
The Xbox One S 2TB Launch Edition is currently available for pre-order on the Microsoft Store website for $399 with a launch scheduled for August 31st. The company claims the 500GB and 1TB models will arrive soon after, probably a few weeks after the first 2TB units have shipped.