Microsoft's Slimmer Xbox One Hits Shelves on Aug. 2

Aug. 2 will be a busy day for Microsoft. The Xbox One S Launch Edition will arrive in select markets the same day the Windows 10 Anniversary Update hits.

XBox One S launch

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update won't be the only major release from Microsoft on Tuesday, Aug. 2.

Microsoft announced July 18 that it plans to start selling the 2TB Xbox One S Launch Edition, a slimmed-down version of the company's video game console, on Aug. 2. Customers who preordered the $399 system will receive their units on that date while prospective buyers can pick one up at select retailers.

The Xbox One S will go on sale in 25 countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Microsoft plans to expand availability into other markets later this year, Matt Lapsen, general manager of Xbox Devices Marketing at Microsoft, said in a July 18 announcement.

Microsoft debuted the updated hardware during last month's E3 video game conference in Los Angeles. Buyers hoping for 4K gameplay will have to wait for the 2017 release of Project Scorpio, but the Xbox One 2 does offer some other visual improvements, provided that it is plugged into a 4K set that supports HDR.

"Beyond the fresh new design, Xbox One S is the first and only console that allows you to watch Blu-ray movies and stream video in stunning 4K Ultra HD with High Dynamic Range (HDR)," stated Lapsen.

HDR-capable displays, like those showed off by LG at this year's CES, display vibrant colors and preserve details that on traditional sets appear muddy in dark areas and washed out in bright ones.

"With HDR support for video and gaming, Xbox One games like Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3 and Scalebound will look even better thanks to a higher contrast ratio between lights and darks, bringing out the true visual depth of your favorite games," Lapsen continued.

Amped-up visuals aside, the hardware itself looks different. Apart from its new 'robot white' casing, the system boasts a 40 percent smaller profile than the original. Its tidier dimensions also include a built-in power supply, further freeing up space in an entertainment center.

Microsoft also moved one of the system's USB ports to the front of the device and included an IR blaster (a function previously performed by the once-standard Kinect motion-sensing accessory), enabling the system to control other remote-control devices. The redesign ditches the dedicated Kinect port, but users can connect their sensors with a new USB adapter.

The accompanying Xbox Wireless Controller also has been updated. Enhancements include beefed up thumbsticks, a textured grip and a more reliable wireless signal with up to twice the range of the previous controller. Newly added Bluetooth support enables the device to double as a Windows 10 (Anniversary Update) controller.

Microsoft plans to follow up the Launch Edition Xbox One S hardware with previously announced 1TB and 500GB versions priced at $349 and $299, respectively. The company will release more details on when it plans to ship those variants in the near future, said Lapsen.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...