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.