Microsoft and Sony plan to release new consoles, the Xbox One S and Project Scorpio by Microsoft , and the Playstation Neo by Sony.
Microsoft plans to release the Xbox One S, a slim version of the Xbox One, in August 2016, while both the Neo and the Scorpio will be available in (late) 2017.
The plan to push out new console models is not entirely new, both companies have created slimmer or more efficient models of consoles in the past, but what is new is that the new models that come out in 2017 will be more powerful than the original versions released in 2013.
The original Xbox One and Playstation 4 are not capable of delivering the performance needed for VR gaming or 4K gaming, and the only viable way out was to push more powerful consoles that deliver the power needed for those technologies.
A number of questions come up automatically:
Before I address those, let's take a look at what we know so far about the refreshes.
Microsoft announced on this year's E3 that it will launch two new Xbox consoles: the Xbox One S, a slim version of the Xbox One, available in the coming months, and Project Scorpio, a more powerful version of the Xbox, at the end of 2017.
These new devices are offered next to the existing Xbox One meaning that Microsoft will offer three Xbox One versions to gamers at the end of 2017.
Let's look at the two new consoles first.
Xbox One S
The Xbox One S is a slim version of the original Xbox. It is about 40% slimmer than the original Xbox One and includes some new features on top of that.
For one, it is offered with a hard drive capacity of up to 2 Terabyte (which is 1TB more than the current internal maximum) but will also ship with a new 4K Blu-Ray player that supports ultra HD Blu-Ray discs.
Additionally, the Xbox One S supports 4K Ultra HD Video (streaming) and High Dynamic Range, and ships with an internal power supply instead of a power brick that the old system requires.
Ports are moved to the front of the console, and a vertical stand is offered to position the console vertically instead of just horizontally.
The console will ship without a dedicated Kinect port, but Microsoft announced an USB adapter for that which it plans to offer free of charge to existing Kinect owners.
The Xbox One S ships with a redesigned controller featuring textured grips and Bluetooth support.
The Xbox console codenamed Project Scorpio won't be out until the end of 2017. It is a hardware refresh unlike the Xbox One S and as such, will be more powerful than the current Xbox One or the Xbox One S.
Microsoft stated that the Scorpio will be powerful enough for 4K gaming and virtual reality, and that existing games will benefit from the more powerful hardware as well.
The company did not reveal any specifics about the hardware or design of the console other than that it would support 6 Teraflops of graphical performance instead of the 1.3 of the Xbox One, and that it would feature an eight-core CPU with 320 gigabytes per second of memory bandwidth.
The Playstation 4 refresh is called Neo by Sony. Unlike Microsoft, Sony did not reveal the new console during its E3 press conference which also means that it did not provide any information about it either.
Sony confirmed the Playstation 4 Neo, and that it will support 4K gaming and VR but that is about it currently. It is very likely that it will feature an UHD Blu-Ray player.
If you want to buy an Xbox One or Playstation 4, you may wonder whether it makes sense to wait and buy one of the new console refreshes, or buy one right now.
There is no definitive answer for that as it depends largely on what you plan to do with either system.
If you have a 4K TV or plan to buy one, or want to jump on the VR bandwagon once it takes up speed, it makes sense to wait for the refreshes to be released and buy one of those.
If you don't care about 4K or VR, and are sure that your stance won't change in the coming years, then you may very well get a PS4 right now or the new Xbox One S that will be out in August.
Both companies confirmed that all games and accessories will work with current consoles and the refreshes, and that they will do anything in their power to make sure that third-party developers will make games and hardware available for all versions of a console.
The one exception to that is VR content which will likely work only on the Scorpio and Neo.
Microsoft revealed the starting price of the Xbox One S -- it is $299 for the 500GB model -- but neither Microsoft nor Sony have revealed how much the Scorpio or the Neo will cost.
Considering that we are talking about major hardware upgrades, it is likely that the price will be -- a lot -- higher than that.
The answer to the question depends on your requirements, whether you want to wait more than a year before you start playing games, and also money.
The end of console gaming as we know it?
Some gamers have expressed concern for the accelerated release cycle. Both consoles came out in 2013, and in some regions as late as 2014.
The main concern is that this could be the beginning of a trend to release consoles in shorter time spans.
Doing so would remove another console gaming benefit: being able to use it to play games for many years without upgrading components.
It is possible that this is just a one-time thing that Microsoft or Sony won't repeat in the future. Then again, if they see that releasing new devices in shorter periods works well, they might switch to the release model fully.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.