Microsoft’s At Team Xbox this week revealed more key specs and details on its forthcoming Xbox Series X gaming console and a smaller, more affordable digital-only Xbox Series S version, as well.

Among the latest revelations is the fact that both players will support Dolby Vision dynamic-metadata high dynamic range (HDR) where available from streaming apps and for the first time in video games, but DV HDR gaming capability won’t be available until sometime in 2021. The Xbox team said its next-gen consoles are scheduled to be first to receive the ability.

In the company’s blog posting, Microsoft said the Xbox Series S will be its “smallest Xbox ever.” It will carry a $299 estimated retail price when it goes on sale in November, but will have some step-down performance attributes compared to the bigger and more powerful $499 Xbox Series X. The two biggest differences are support for 4K resolution and the ability to play physical discs.

The Xbox Series S will only support resolution output of up to 1440/60 fps, where the Xbox Series X will support 4K 3820×2160 output. Both players support HDR, however, and will even deliver some HDR benefits to compatible legacy video gaming titles.

The Xbox Series S is billed as an “all-digital next-gen console designed to deliver everything that is core to next-generation gaming – faster load times, higher frame rates, and richer, more dynamic worlds.” The console and supplied controller will be available in “Robot White” and designed for “digital-first gamers” and gamers looking for a device they can take with them where ever they go. The Xbox Wireless Controller will also be available for standalone purchases in time for the holidays. It will include “all of the same features we’ve detailed to date such as improved ergonomics, our hybrid D-pad, textured grip on the triggers, bumpers and back, as well as the new dedicated Share button.”

The Series S will not include a disc drive, but it will be backward compatible with thousands of digital Xbox One and backward-compatible Xbox 360 and original Xbox games available at launch.

Microsoft said the Xbox Series S have the same next generation speed and performance as the Xbox Series X, but will include a smaller 8-Core AMD Zen-2 CPU. Both models will have the same I/O performance and include HDMI 2.1 ports.

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The company stressed the Xbox Series S will have 4x the processing power of an Xbox One console and supports up to 120fps gaming, and more responsive gameplay with support for hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing and Variable Rate Shading. Also supported is 512GB of custom SSD storage (expandable with a 1TB card) and is powered by the Xbox Velocity Architecture for more than 40x the I/O bandwidth of an Xbox One. This will produce faster loading times, steadier frame rates and Quick Resume for multiple titles, Microsoft assures.

Audio on both the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X includes Spatial Sound with decoding for Dolby Atmos.

In its statement Microsoft said “the primary difference between Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S is in resolution. Through talking to our customers, we found that many of our fans prioritize frame rate over resolution, so we wanted to build a console that didn’t require a 4K TV.”

The Xbox Series S delivers approximately 3x the GPU performance of Xbox One and was designed to play games at 1440p at 60 frames per second, with support for up to 120fps.

The company said both Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S will play games from four generations of Xbox platforms and will allow bringing “your Xbox One gaming accessories forward with you.”

“When you see a compatible Xbox game in the digital store, whether it’s original Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One or a next-gen title, you can purchase and play that game on either Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S,” the company said.

Microsoft is stressing the use of both consoles with its Xbox Game Pass service. This brings online multi-player ability and instant access to a digital library of over 100 high-quality games, including all Xbox Game Studios titles the same day they release. Coming during the holiday console releases, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and PC members will get an EA Play membership at no additional cost.

Game Pass members will get access to more than 60 EA console and PC games including: FIFA 20, Titanfall 2 and Need for Speed Heat, as well as titles from some of EA’s most popular franchises like Battlefield, Mass Effect, Skate, and The Sims.

Beyond titles developed for past platforms, games built for the next generation players will support Smart Delivery that auto-detects Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X or compatible Xbox One titles and delivers “the best version of the game available to you, ensuring you only ever have to purchase your games once.”

“While your previous generation Xbox titles can still be played directly from your existing external USB 3.1 hard drives, to receive all the benefits of the Xbox Velocity Architecture and optimal performance, games Optimized for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X must be played from the custom internal SSD or a Seagate Storage Expansion Card,” Microsoft said.

Xbox All Access is also being expanded for the next generation. “With Xbox All Access, you can get a next generation Xbox with 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with no upfront cost, for just $34.99/month for 24 months for Xbox Series X and $24.99/month for 24 months for Xbox Series S.”

Existing Xbox All Access customers will get “flexible” upgrade options.

Source: Microsoft

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By Greg Tarr

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