Microsoft is trimming down its gaming console this summer with the release of the Xbox One S, announced Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft Xbox, on June 13 during the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.
Clad in a "robot white" enclosure, the Xbox One S is 40 percent smaller than the original and includes new features not available on the current hardware, including 4K video streaming and Blu-ray support. 4K Xbox gaming will arrive next year when Project Scorpio is released.
Xbox One S also features High Dynamic Range (HDR) support, one of LG's signature technologies at this year's CES, for both video and gaming. On supported displays, HDR can deliver higher contrast and more vibrant colors than conventional televisions. Gears of War 4 and Scalebound are among the first publicly announced titles to feature HDR support.
To accommodate the hardware's sleeker dimensions, Microsoft ditched the dedicated Kinect port, a holdover from the days when the Xbox One included the motion sensing peripheral. After several months of trailing Sony's lower-priced PlayStation 4 in terms of sales, Microsoft finally unbundled Kinect in June 2014.
Microsoft hasn't completely given up on Kinect. Buyers of the new slimmer hardware can order a USB adapter. Current Kinect for Xbox One can request a free Xbox Kinect Adapter from the company.
Other changes include an IR blaster allowing users without a Kinect (it can pump IR signals in addition to sensing motion in 3D) to control their TVs and other home theater components. Microsoft also conveniently moved one of the console's three USB ports to the front. An optional stand ($19.99) allows owners to position the unit vertically, a placement that isn't recommended with its heftier predecessor.
Xbox One S will ship with a redesigned controller ($59.99 separately). Notably, it features built-in Bluetooth, allowing it to more easily pull double duty as a PC gamepad. Users can expect better wireless range and performance overall, Microsoft said. A new textured grip helps make the controller more comfortable to hold, and new, longer-lasting thumbsticks help reduce wear.
Xbox One S is scheduled to go on sale in early August with a 2TB launch edition ($399). It will be followed soon after by 1TB ($349) and 500GB ($299) editions, said Microsoft.
In time for the 2017 holiday season, Microsoft plans to release an Xbox console capable of 4K gaming, currently code-named Project Scorpio.
"When it ships next year, we believe it will be the most powerful console ever built," said Spencer during his June 13 keynote. "With 6 teraflops of power, this is hardware built specifically to lead the console industry into true 4K gaming and high-fidelity VR."
Spencer added that games and accessories will be compatible with the original Xbox One, Xbox One S and the upcoming Project Scorpio hardware. "No one gets left behind," he assured. Pricing details and performance specs—aside from 6 teraflops of GPU performance—are being kept under wraps for now.