Xbox goes 4K; elec­tion hack; most pow­er­ful Ap­ple yet.

Mi­crosoft has the world’s most pow­er­ful con­sole


ON NOVEM­BER 7, you’ll be able to swap $499 for what Mi­crosoft proudly claims to be the world’s most pow­er­ful con­sole: the Xbox One X, pre­vi­ously known as Project Scorpio. And yes, the name is a lit­tle clumsy. The head­line is enough power for full 60fps 4K gam­ing. The sleek black box packs a cus­tom 2.3GHz eight-core pro­ces­sor, a 40 Com­pute Unit AMD GPU, and 12GB of GDDR5. Plus, there’s 1TB of stor­age and a UHD drive. A de­cent, if not spec­tac­u­lar, hard­ware up­grade. And that’s what this is: not a new sys­tem as such, but an Xbox One with more oomph.

The One X is twice the price of a One S, and ba­si­cally plays the same games, 35 of which will get free 4K up­grades. Minecraft looks lush (if you’ve never played with high-res tex­ture packs and shaders on your PC). So, will peo­ple shell out the ex­tra for the en­hanced ex­pe­ri­ence? You’ll need a 4K screen, of course, al­though clever su­per­sam­pling tech­nol­ogy will make the most of a 1080p screen. The Xbox S can play 4K Blu-rays and run games up­scaled to 4K and in HDR al­ready. 4K can un­doubt­edly look stun­ning, but HDR may prove to be just as im­por­tant. 4K can be sub­tle in a way that HDR isn’t—it pops.

What would help the One X is some ex­clu­sive games. Sony un­der­stands this bet­ter, and has top ti­tles that are PS4 only. Stick­ing to the Xbox One doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on the next chap­ter of the big game fran­chises, you just won’t get them in 4K. This makes it look like an ex­pen­sive up­grade if you al­ready have an Xbox One.

What’s miss­ing from this pic­ture? Any talk of VR. De­spite Mi­crosoft’s con­sid­er­able in­vest­ments in the tech­nol­ogy, it qui­etly dropped all men­tion of it at the One X launch. It will come to the One X at some point—so says Xbox’s head hon­cho, Phil Spencer. You’ll have to wait, though. Hints have been made that any such sys­tem will be wire­less. De­spite me­dia in­ter­est and the pro­lif­er­a­tion of sys­tems, VR has yet to make any real im­pact. Sony’s PS4 VR kit has not made much head­way—even shift­ing a mil­lion head­sets, that still rep­re­sents un­der 2 per­cent of its PS4 sales.

One pleas­ing devel­op­ment are the plans by Mr Spencer to bring more Xbox One games to the PC, along with Game Pass. Xbox 360 games are a trick­ier propo­si­tion, as the ma­chine didn’t run x86 hard­ware. Game Pass would be wel­come, but it’ll need a de­cent PC-com­pat­i­ble li­brary to go with it. One thing we would like to see on the Xbox it­self is key­board and mouse sup­port. It’s been talked about for years, but never seems to ar­rive. It can’t be that dif­fi­cult to im­ple­ment, surely?

The con­sole mar­ket is a tough and no­to­ri­ously fickle one. Sony’s PS4 is do­ing rather nicely—about 60 mil­lion shifted so far. The Xbox One has yet to man­age half that num­ber. If you just want 4K, the PS4 is $100 cheaper. Still, the One X looks cool, has a big li­brary of games, and, hey, it is the world’s most pow­er­ful con­sole.

The One X is twice the price of the One S, and plays the same games.

Mi­crosoft’s Xbox One X isn’t a new sys­tem, but a hard­ware up­grade that means the Xbox can now tick the 4K check­box. It’s also back­ward com­pat­i­ble with a huge li­brary of Xbox games.

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