Dubbed the Xbox One S, the new console was revealed at the E3 technology conference and packs a fistful of new features into a smaller sleeker frame.
From the outside, the biggest change is that the One S is some 40 per cent smaller than the original Xbox One, making it a sleeker, less imposing-looking device. Despite its smaller footprint, Microsoft have managed to bring the power supply inboard on the One S, doing away with the ugly, bulky power block.
Of more significance to users are the changes in performance, with the One S adding support for 4K and HDR video. As well as allowing users to stream 4K content via services such as Netflix and Amazon the One S features support for Ultra HD Blu-ray, the latest standard in home video. This is big news for anyone looking to make the most of their new 4K televisions as there are currently only a handful of standalone Ultra HD Blu-ray players on the market and they are expensive compared with the One S’s £249 starting price.
The console also offers support for HDR or high dynamic range content, which aims to offer a wider and brighter colour pallet and the best contrast yet to TV shows and games.
The S will come with an updated controller with a textured grip and Bluetooth connectivity and adds an IR blaster to control other home cinema devices but it drops a dedicated Kinect port in recognition that the motion-sensing device has had its chips.
The console has, apparently, unlocked a little more of both its core processing and graphics processing power to facilitate the 4K and HDR functions but Microsoft chiefs, keen to avoid the wrath of owners of older versions, insist this won’t mean One S owners enjoy different gameplay.
Speaking to Eurogamer, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said: “It was designed to play Xbox One games exactly the same way your existing Xbox One does.
“The one definitive feature that’s different is HDR. So, with the increased HDMI capability, it has the ability to support high dynamic range.
“I don’t want anybody to think this is somehow a performance boost for Xbox One games. That’s why we said HDR on-screen, and that’s what we want to be explicit about. Outside of that, you should expect your Xbox One games to run exactly the same.”
Sony have confirmed that a similarly tweaked PlayStation 4 is on its way to take on the One S but details are still sketchy. It’s expected to offer 4K abilities but there are also rumours it might get a processor upgrade to support the incoming PlayStation VR headset.
The Xbox One S is not to be confused with Microsoft’s other upcoming hardware - Project Scorpio - which is expected to be a far more highly-specced system designed to offer a virtual reality-ready console. That isn’t expected to hit the shops until late next year.
Due to ship in August, the One S starts at £249 for a 500GB version, rising to £349 for the 2TB version.