Robin Reviews… the Xbox Series S console

I just want to put it out there right from the off that I am Team PlayStation and have been ever since the first console was launched in the mid 90s through Ster Kinekor, the distributors for PlayStation in South Africa. Being a gaming purist, it just made sense to get myself a PS5 but the turning point came when I saw the price of next-generation units, mainly because there was a shortage of consoles throughout the world.

Around the same time (November 2020), Xbox also released their rival to the PS5 – the Series S and X console. What are the differences between the two in case you didn’t know? The Series S is the digital and cheaper version, while the X supports physical CDs and is also more powerful. With the PS5 way out of budget (retailing for almost R18 000), the Series S made all the sense in the world – a brand-new next-generation console for less than R10 000.

Like sitting down with wet underwear, there was an initial uneasiness to now get used to a different controller, user interface and (lack of) certain titles. In physical form, the console is really light, weighing just under 2kg, and can be mistaken for big book if not for the large top-mounted air vent. So there I was, sitting with a console and internet connection but had no games to play, now what? I’ve heard of Xbox’ popular Game Pass subscription that gives users access to more than 100 games and signed up for the Ultimate Pass on the Microsoft site for R150 a month.

The good, the bad

The Series S is also known as the people’s console because it ticks virtually all the boxes for any type of gamer that wants fast loading times and 4K Ultra HD capabilities. It is recommended, but not a nailed-on requirement, to have a TV that supports 4K resolution to truly bring across the optimised for Series S and X titles.

A drawback for the Series S is that, depending on your internet connection speed and the size of the game, you can’t get going immediately as everything has to be downloaded first. Even though the console is advertised with having a total of 512GB onboard storage space, you only have about 360GB or so available to you and that is because of necessary operating system files.

I found myself in the same boat where space became an issue after downloading around 7 titles. I reached capacity and ended up needing to delete them once I’ve finished. There are two ways to remedy that situation. 1) You can purchase a storage expansion card (about R4000) and play titles directly off it or 2) Use an Xbox Seagate Expansion 1TB Hard drive (about R1 400 at BT Games) to store a plethora of titles on. It is worth noting that a majority of optimised games cannot be played directly from the hard drive so it can only be stored on there an then be moved to and from the internal storage. Any Xbox One titles and before can be played directly from the hard drive, which is cool.

The interface menu is relatively straightforward to navigate, where one can change and monitor things like your profile, online connectivity or system updates. Storage space is the only glaringly obvious kink in the Series’ S armour but if you don’t mind waiting roughly two minutes to transfer titles between systems, then there is not much else to consider.

Now that you’ve got the knowledge, it’s time to shop! Head to gumtree.co.za or your Gumtree app (click for Apple & Android) and don’t forget to use your location settings to find local service information close to home.

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