Microsoft’s new Xbox consoles are heading our way, soon enough too. While all eyes are on the Xbox Series X, Microsoft has confirmed a few hours ago that the Xbox Series S is now official. It is not just any gaming console though—it is the smallest Xbox ever. It is priced at $299 globally, which translates into a price of around Rs 22,000 for India—that is before the expected taxes and margins, mind you. No official dates have been confirmed yet, but Microsoft’s UK, UK and French Twitter accounts hint that the launch dates, at least in those countries, is November 10. That is well in time for the festive season shopping spree. No further info on the detailed specifications as well. The suspense will be all getting a bit much, real soon.
What we know so far is that the Xbox Series S will be all digital, which means no optical disc slot. It will handle gaming at a maximum resolution of 1440p with up to 120 FPS rates. It will have variable refresh rate based on content, variable rate shading and DirectX Raytracing. There is a 512GB SSD for storing your games, and the SSD should really boost performance. It can also upscale media content to 4K and games that support this can also be upscaled for 4K TVs and displays.
There seems to be a consensus among industry watchers that the $299 price tag for the Xbox Series S is lower than expected. Which is great news for us lot, who may eventually queue up to buy one. But could that also indicate any possible surprises that Microsoft may have in store for the Xbox Series X pricing? And mind you, it is not just the new hardware that Microsoft is working on, because on the software side as well, the Xbox gaming consoles are getting significantly better—and that will reach your current Xbox consoles as well.
While Microsoft has given the world a confirmation about the Xbox Series S gaming console and the price tag of $299, all we know is how it looks and that it is the smallest Xbox console ever made—it is 60% smaller than the Xbox Series X. Yet, no further info on the specifications. It is being speculated that the Series S will come with 4-teraflops of GPU performance which is lower than the Xbox Series X (12-teraflops) and Sony’s PlayStation 5 (10-teraflops)—but then that is to be expected. The “S” series has always been a slightly lower powered alternative to the more powerful flagship Xbox consoles, something we have seen with the current Xbox One X and the Xbox One S consoles too.
The suspense around the Xbox Series X continues. All we have is speculation about how much it will cost. There has been a new leak though, from perhaps the unlikeliest of sources. An Xbox-based advertorial contest in South Africa by potato crisp brand Pringles hints that the price of an Xbox Series X may be as high as $815, which works out to around Rs 60,000. Pringles has some contest running where they promise to give away one Xbox Series X console every day for 46 days—once it is launched, of course.
It is not all about the new hardware. Microsoft has eventually worked out that unless the Xbox software matches up, the hardware can only really deliver so much of the experience. On the way is a rather interesting overhaul with a new dashboard and user interface as part of what Microsoft calls the new Xbox Experience. Microsoft says that with the new Xbox Experience, the Home screen or the Dashboard will load about 50 percent faster when you boot your Xbox than it does in its current iteration and will be almost 30 percent faster to load when you’re returning from a game. There are also improvements to the way memory is used, with the new interface using as much as 40 percent lesser memory, which means more resources are available for apps and games to load faster. And oh, the unification of design will see it draw on the similarities from the Xbox Game Pass app for Android and iOS.
With a great gaming console comes a lot of responsibility. As gamers. As parents. As human beings. Microsoft has rolled out the Family Safety app for Android phones and the Apple iPhone, which will let parents get insights on the activity of their child, across multiple devices. This will be able to log activity on Windows PCs, Android phones and the Xbox console, all synced in one place. Parents can set time limits for apps and games and specific apps can be completely blocked as well. There are web filters that can limit the browsing to certain websites, and this works on the Microsoft Edge web browser on Windows 10, Xbox and Android devices.
It was reported earlier in the summer that Microsoft was going slow on the production of the current generation of Xbox consoles, to focus on the new arrivals. It could simply be that the shortages in supply of the Xbox One X and the Xbox One S were because of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, but it turns out that the availability is now pretty much limited to the stocks still available with retailers.