Some might say that Xbox Series S is the anti-Digital Foundry console. Out of the gate, its mission statement is specifically not to deliver the state of the art in its visual presentation. Instead, the pitch is something very different – to enable next-generation gaming without having to shell out $500/£450 to indulge your hobby. Combined with Xbox All-Access, or as a standalone purchase with the value-rific Xbox Game Pass, it’s a machine designed to enable access to the games of today and tomorrow without having to wait a couple of years for the latest and greatest console hardware to drop in price – something that Microsoft says may not happen anyway.
Series S delivers exactly what it sets out to achieve, but it’s not an anti-DF machine, far from it. It’s beautifully designed, irresistible in the flesh, and in a world of economic uncertainty and an increased drive towards sustainability, it’s the most affordable and efficient next-generation machine. It certainly has its drawbacks, but it achieves what it sets out to and it does it with genuine style.
That starts with the packaging, which is attractive on the outside and does a nice job of presenting your new machine to you on the inside – a neatly wrapped console-sized parcel in the centre, accessories at the top: the same HDMI 2.1 spec display cable as Series X and a white version of the newly refined controller, plus a couple of AA batteries. Set-up is simple, made even easier by the Xbox smartphone app that interfaces with the console and takes you through all of the required inputs as the system software updates on the machine itself – a process that still seems too long and involved, and the single biggest lag factor Microsoft has not removed in the transition from one generation to the next.