As we get closer to this year’s E3 conference, we are hearing more and more rumours about an updated Xbox One console being announced. With Nintendo prepping their NX console that is rumoured to be more powerful than either Sony or Microsoft’s consoles, this would mean for the first time in Xbox history, it would be the least powerful console on the market. Sony are rumoured to be announcing a more powerful machine with the PlayStation 4K/NEO (whatever it ends up being called), so what upgrades or changes could Microsoft make to their machine?
The most obvious, and most likely, alteration to the platform is a new slimmer console. The Xbox One is significantly larger than the PlayStation 4; in terms of volume it is more than 1.6 times bigger. After the numerous overheating issues of the Xbox 360 at launch, it’s understandable that Microsoft would be particularly conservative in the packaging of their new console. As the console has been out for over two years now, there’s a good chance that there is a smaller and more efficient chipset available that could lead to a dramatic shrinking of the console. The Xbox 360 slim was released three years after the launch of the original. An announcement at E3 of an Xbox One Slim could lead to a launch 3 years after the Xbox One debuted. As much as I don’t have an issue with the chunky nature of the Xbox One, (it fits quite nicely amongst my hifi gear) it would be nice to see a more stylised slimmer box.
Internal power supply
Assuming we do get a console redesign announced at E3, to my mind this is the one thing that has to be included. The power brick on the current Xbox One is huge. Once again, I can understand why Microsoft chose to put the power transformer outside of the console. At the end of the day, it came down to overheating concerns. With the console now proven to be able to run at sensible temperatures with no overheating, Microsoft should have enough confidence to be able to do away with the power brick and include the power transformer in the actual console. This would not only be a good aesthetic decision but will be welcome news to anyone with limited space around their television.
More and more people are getting 4K (also know as Ultra HD) televisions. While a few years ago TV manufacturers were pushing 3D TVs, it is now 4K that is the feature of all new televisions. 4K is a screen resolution of 3840 x 2160 which is equal to four times more pixels than ‘Full HD’ which is 1920 x 1080. The current Xbox One can output 4K images but there aren’t any games that enable it. The reason for this is that to get to that level of resolution, the graphical fidelity would need to be lowered considerably. Realistically right now, the only way to view 4K from your Xbox One is if you are able to stream a show from Netflix that does 4K. To be able to utilise 4K in gaming with the same level of graphics that we are used to, the graphics card and memory in the console will need a significant boost. With the price of components always coming down, it would be possible for Microsoft to release a 4K capable version of the console for not too much more than the console’s original cost. This would lead to a two-tier console that not only makes game development more complicated but also could potentially split the fan-base. The only other time this has really been tried was with the N64’s Expansion Pack, which boosted the RAM of Nintendo’s console. That system did end up with games that were only playable with the expansion pack, but the point of that upgrade was to provide improvements to graphics while still at the same resolution.
Upgraded optical drive
A faster Blu-ray drive would be a welcome, though by no means essential addition to the console, but that’s not what I’m suggesting here. When Xbox One was released, Microsoft fitted an optical drive that was able to play 3D Blu-rays that were the most advanced media available at the time. As things have progressed with the development of 4K televisions, so has Blu-ray technology. You can now purchase Ultra HD Blu-rays. If Microsoft were to offer a new Elite console, adding an Ultra HD drive would be a nice addition.
Faster hard drive
Speaking of a new Elite console, how about shipping it with a full SSD drive. Microsoft has dabbled in these waters already with the hybrid drive in the current Xbox One Elite Console. It would be great to have the option of a full SSD drive though. To keep the cost from being prohibitive, it would probably only be a 500GB drive, but the performance boost that this would give is definitely worth it.
This once again goes back to Microsoft being concerned with overheating in their new console. The fans in the current Xbox One are massive in comparison to most; this creates more noise than is necessary. This issue has been addressed to some degree, through firmware updates and by reducing the parameters in which they operate. A redesign of the console could solve this issue altogether by not only using smaller fans, but also utilising whisper-quiet fans.
What changes/upgrades would you like to see to the console? Do you like the idea of a 4K console? Are you concerned about fragmenting the fan-base? Have your say in the comments section below.