Xbox Collection X/S evaluations show new consoles and additional technical information

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1. Xbox Series X/S reviews are out, and they’re pretty pretty good

The embargoes on next-generation Xbox reviews, both Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, were lifted just days before the November 10th release.

I think there will be a lot of smiles at Microsoft headquarters, but it’s not a perfect release. But don’t blame the hardware:

In terms of performance, design and power consumption, the X/S combination feels like bringing the superior quality of PC games to the console. And it’s quiet, writes AnandTech, with a typical technical depth: “To put this difference in perspective, the new Xbox Series X is quieter than the Xbox One X in idle when playing Gears 5. The Xbox team’s attention to detail in terms of cooling and sound is really a home run here: “Well, that’s partly because it’s so big, and the heat that comes out of the ventilation on top is warm to very warm, but not hot. Nevertheless, you should make sure that the roof is not covered and that it is suitable for standing. Most reviews have noted that you can lay it horizontally, but that’s not really the aesthetics or the way the heater is set up: “When it’s placed horizontally, you can say that the Xbox Series X looks like it’s fallen over when the base is permanently attached,” writes The Verge.

However, there is a certain hesitation with the cheaper, less powerful Series S:

I’ll leave it up to Ars Technica, with a longer quote: “[The Serie X] is a remarkable $499 machine. It’s elegant, it’s powerful, and its high-end games are currently loading at higher speeds than my own $1,000+ test PC can handle. Meanwhile, the X’s little cousin/sister/home boy, Xbox Series S, is remarkably efficient for its size, price and power consumption. We certainly haven’t seen such a small and quiet “next-gen” gaming machine since the cartridge era, and in a way the emphasis on “next-gen but lower resolution” is a resounding success…”. “But […] I can’t definitely confirm that the $299 Series S delivers on Microsoft’s inherent promise: the same gameplay as the Series X, with the kind of downgrades you can’t see on a 1080p TV. Sometimes this comes out exactly as advertised, especially in first-party software like Gears 5 and Sea of Thieves. But with a major performance mishap at the time of going to press and some concerns about its value compared to the Series X, I reluctantly wade into half of this review of the Series S. “This performance issue concerned Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, where the Series S peaked at 30 frames per second compared to the expected 60 frames per second for the Series X. This is a major problem if it is not a pre-release failure and makes it more difficult to call the Series S a success.

And this brings us first to the problems with the two series X/S: There are still no real AAA hit games of the next generation.

The good news is that the change from 30 frames per second to 60 frames per second is called day and night, and older games that run more smoothly can be replayed very well. This will make older consoles feel really old really quickly, but… The day 1 library cabinet is basically empty. Engadget noted that “…there aren’t many compelling new games that would make the system a $500 system that is a must-buy”, thanks to the delays with Halo Infinite for one, and without pre-installed games on the system, such as PlayStation 5’s Astro’s Playroom, which comes with every system…This doesn’t mean that the Series X won’t be coming into its own soon, but Xbox One X owners won’t be shortchanged. The not-so-secret weapon for the Xbox is Game Pass or Microsoft’s “Netflix for video games”: Game Pass is of course now available for PC and Xbox, but it is now an important pillar for Microsoft, and the Series X can play all these games at maximum or near maximum performance.many of the reviews say that Game Pass is by no means required, but highly recommended.

Given that the review is so strongly positive, without some of the hiccups that can plague new versions, this feels like an apt last word from The Verge:

“There’s one big question that remains with the Xbox Series X: When will Microsoft’s 23 first-party studios deliver the next generation games that really show what this console can do? Powerful hardware and an elegant user experience are just part of the mix. Microsoft will need the games to make the X series really feel like something brand new.

So will Sony prevail with exclusive titles that are more easily available on PlayStation? Is the Dual Sense controller really that good? What else is going to come in between to make purchasing decisions easier? We’ll know more when the embargo falls, probably towards the end of next week.

2. WhatsApp finally begins rolling out payment service in India (Android Authority).

3. Amazon Fire Stick (2020 edition) review: A solid upgrade on the budget end, with the 4K option better depending on your TV set (Android Authority).

4. Samsung Wireless Charger Stand review: Fan cooling provides a good home office option (Android Authority).

5. Sony says, ‘stay home, be safe, and order online’ with all PS5 launch day sales going online-only. Nothing in stores! (Android Authority).

6. Here’s what storage options the PS5 will and won’t support at launch (Android Authority).

7. We’re finally seeing the iPhone 12 mini and 12 Pro Max, and size really matters with these (The Verge).

8. Impressive from AMD: The new Zen 3 CPUs are seriously good, with detailed reviews now out (Anandtech).

9. You know that $1B in Bitcoin that was mysteriously moved around after years lying dormant? It was the Feds, seizing stolen Silk Road Bitcoin. I still mourn 0.2 BTC I lost years ago (Wired).

10. Algorithm spots ‘Covid cough’ inaudible to humans — imagine if this can work on smartphones (BBC).

11. San Francisco voters pass ‘Overpaid Executive Tax’: The new law adds a 0.1 percent tax on companies whose executives earn 100 times more than the average worker. The tax rises depending on the ratio, too: If a CEO makes 200 times more than the average employee, the surcharge increases to 0.2%; 300 times a 0.3% surcharge, up to 0.6%. (NBC)

12. Tesla Tequila goes from April Fools joke to $250-per-bottle reality (Engadget).

13. Visitor banned from Yellowstone National Park after rangers catch him cooking chickens in the hot springs (Newsweek).

14. SpaceX launches next-gen GPS satellite for US Space Force, lands rocket (Space).

15. “What’s recently entered the Public Domain (copyright’s expired) that most people might not be aware of?” (r/askreddit). Helpful list from Wikipedia, too.

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