The Xbox Series S is basically the Nick Foles of Microsoft’s next-gen lineup. It’s not the franchise quarterback. You shouldn’t build your entire entertainment experience around this particular box. But in the right circumstance, it is perfect. It is exactly what you need. It can deliver in the clutch, and sometimes, that’s all you really need.
Imagine a world where travel is normal again. Try to picture yourself stuffing the nearly 10 lb. Xbox Series X into a bag or a suitcase. It’s awkwardly shaped. That is likely half of your airline weight allotment gone. And when you get to where you’re going, what are you going to plug it into? You’ll need to have a TV available. You’ll need to find a spot to place that dense tower. It’s more trouble than it’s worth.
The Xbox Series S, though, is built to move. The thing is 4 lbs. It is smaller than any other Xbox that’s come before. You can lift it up with one hand. You can slip it into a backpack and still have room for the rest of your accessories. If you buy an Xbox Series S and a portable 1080p monitor, you can still save over $100 versus purchasing the Series X by itself. It is the travel Xbox.
And you’re really not missing out on all that much by going with the lower tier model — at least right now.
Most Series X/S enhanced titles are true to the console’s capabilities. There are 1080p/60 fps modes, or visual quality modes that sacrifice frame rate for looks. Back-compat Xbox 360/Xbox titles that targeted 4K on the Xbox One X (and also do so on the Series X) end up targeting 1440p on the Series S.
The one disappointment is the fact that some Xbox One X-enhanced games run in Xbox One S mode on the Series S. There are 1080p/60 modes in games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, for example, that the Series S could knock out of the park. Because it gets the Xbox One S version of that game versus the Xbox One X version, it never even gets a chance.
But that’s not the point. The point is next-gen gaming that’s cheaper and more portable. In that, the Xbox Series S shines. It is an absolute marvel when it comes to its size and weight. Aside from the console’s fan, there are zero moving parts.
If you know you’ll be on the road a lot when Normal Times (TM) return, this — perhaps more than any other console out there — is the one you’ll want to be carrying with you. There are just some games the Switch won’t get. It’ll likely be a while before the PlayStation 5 shrinks in size. The Xbox Series S isn’t the beast its older brother is, but that is what makes it great.