REVIEW : Xbox Series X
The Xbox Series X sneaks up on you. It’s a minimalist block with accurately one curve on the intact thing. And when you turn it on, the dashboard looks nearly identical to the one that Xbox One gamers have been using for ages. Even the power button makes the identical beeps, and the packed-in controller is hardly changed. It’s not until you fire up a game and are driven into smooth, native 4K amazingly fast that the Series X justifies spending $500 to upgrade. This console makes few trade-offs and, even though there’s no killer app out of the box that instantly screams.
From the minute you open the Xbox Series X box, it delivers a great first impression with a presentation reminiscent of an Apple product. Every aspect of that method has been meticulously examined, including the console’s central, isolated placement in the box, making it feel like you’re opening a present.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
Let’s talk about the console design itself. It’s minimalist, yes, but bold. To my eye, it’s comfortably the best in Xbox history when it’s standing vertically at least. On its side, it seems like a giant lost LEGO piece, and you can’t remove the vertical stand on the left side, which is awkward. But when stood tall, it’s big enough to boldly tower in your entertainment centre while compact and subtle enough that it doesn’t overshadow it.
On the front you have the power button, a single USB 3.2 port, a 4K Blu-ray drive with an eject key, and a controller pairing switch. On the back, there’s an HDMI 2.1 out, two more USB ports, the power plug, an ethernet port, and the internal storage extension slot. RIP, HDMI in and optical ports. Kudos to Microsoft’s engineers for creating the Series X almost inaudibly quiet.
OLD AND NEW
If you had an Xbox One, navigating your new Series X will be immediately familiar. I do realize that’s anticlimactic for a lot of folks; until now when we’ve purchased an expensive new-generation console we’ve got a new experience. Microsoft has not done that here, opting rather for continuity across ages and sticking with an interface that, after seven years of tweaking, works pretty well. It may not be sparkling or new but it is time-tested it has every trait and third-party media app we’ve come to anticipate from a current console, with no obvious gaps or downgrades like we saw when the Xbox One first launched. On the Series X, it’s fast and more responsive, and a lot of features is easily obtained via a press of the Guide button on the controller. Some hardly required settings are still cumbersome to find, but at least there’s the system-level search functionality, similar to Windows and iPhone, that lets you hunt for things like “HDR setting.”
REVIEW : Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (XBOX Series X)