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Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launched in November of 2013 with great success. It’s now just three years later and both Microsoft and Sony have released updated consoles as part of a mid-generation console refresh—the first of its kind for console owners. Not be confused, the Xbox One S and PlayStation 4 Pro aren’t entirely new platforms—they are upgrades to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 respectively.

So what does this mean for existing owners of the Xbox One or PlayStation 4? Are these mid-generation console updates worth the cost if you already own an Xbox One or PlayStation 4? No need to worry, I’m here to help you see the advantages that both the Xbox One S and PlayStation 4 Pro have to offer, and why you should upgrade this holiday season.

Xbox One S

The Xbox One S could not have come at a better time for both existing Xbox One owners and those looking to make the leap from the Xbox 360. With a slew of amazing exclusive games already available including Halo 5, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Quantum Break, and a whole slew of hot new titles for the fall—Microsoft’s E3 2016 unveiling of the Xbox One S was perfectly timed.

I picked up my Xbox One S console in early August, and after several months of gaming, I can genuinely say that the Xbox One S has transformed my gaming experience entirely compared to the original Xbox One.

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4K upscaling

The Xbox One S utilizes a technology that upscales Xbox One games to 4K Ultra HD before outputting them to a 4K TV. It is true that 4K TVs can upscale from 1080p already, but I have to tell you that the Xbox One S delivers quite possibly some of the best upscaling I have seen ever. I was completely amazed at the difference between the picture quality of the original Xbox One and Xbox One S on my Samsung 60” 4K UHD TV.

The Xbox One S has a picture that is so much cleaner and sharper as compared to the original Xbox One. I was amazed as just how close to a native 4K image source that the Xbox One S could upscale to. Games like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Resident Evil 5 felt like I was playing them for the first time on a new console. Check out the 4K upscale picture below from Forza Motorsport 6, kudos to Microsoft for a fantastic job on achieving such an amazing feat!

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HDR gaming

If you are looking for the crème de la crème in Xbox gaming, then you are going to love High Dynamic Range (HDR) gaming on your 4K TV with the Xbox One S. Essentially, HDR allows for a wider range of colours that have brighter highlights and deeper blacks while maintaining clarity and detail on screen. All Xbox One games see some sort of benefit from the HDR feature contained in the Xbox One S, and new games such as Gears of War 4 have been built from the ground up to take full advantage of it.

One of the first games to natively support HDR was Forza Horizon 3, and I was instantly impressed with the game’s richer and more vibrant colours on the Xbox One S. It was easy to see the benefit of the higher contrast ratio with deeper darks and brighter whites. Games like Battlefield 1, NBA 2K17, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Gears of War 4, and World of Tanks are specifically designed to take advantage of HDR and look amazing. There are plenty of more games on the horizon to look forward to that take advantage of HDR such as Final Fantasy XV, Resident Evil 7, and Scalebound—just to name a few.

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4K media playback

The Xbox One S is more than just a games console, now that 4K TVs have come down in price and sales are constantly rising, new 4K UHD Blu-ray discs have emerged. and the Xbox One S can play these visually stunning discs from the comfort of your home. Virtually every new movie releases on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, and there is a growing amount of older movies being re-released to take advantage of this format. Best Buy Canada has a wide selection of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs including some of my favourites like Chappie, Lucy, and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. With a much larger push from film and TV studios to get their content released in 4K, the ability to playback these discs gives the Xbox One S a major advantage over the Xbox One.

Additionally, the Xbox One S gives you the flexibility to watch 4K content in more than one way. You can stream 4K HDR video with the Xbox One S from online video services such as Netflix. Now you can watch your favourite shows and movies such as Fuller House, Grace and Frankie, Breaking Bad, and Green Eggs and Ham in all of their 4K HDR glory. Best Buy Canada makes it even easier for you to get your Netflix subscription by purchasing a prepaid Netflix subscription. Without the need for a credit card to activate your subscription, the convenience of streaming your favourite content will make life that much easier.

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PlayStation 4 Pro

Rumours of an upgraded PlayStation 4, known as the PlayStation Neo, have been floating around the internet for some time. Many gamers, including myself, anticipated that Sony would make some sort of announcement at E3 2016. When nothing was mentioned at Sony’s press conference, the internet was set on fire with speculation.

However, just a few short months later on September 7th at a special press conference, Sony officially unveiled the PlayStation 4 Pro. Let’s take a look at what makes the PlayStation 4 Pro a must have, and why new and existing PlayStation 4 owners should upgrade to the PlayStation 4 Pro.

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Dynamic 4K HDR gaming and 4K entertainment

The PlayStation 4 Pro is the only console that is capable of outputting games at a native 4K resolution. Just to give you an idea of how powerful the PlayStation 4 Pro is, compared to the original PlayStation 4/PlayStation 4 Slim it delivers a 30% CPU and 100% GPU boost. Additionally, the PlayStation 4 Pro has an extra 1GB of RAM that is specifically for non-gaming functionality so the full 8GB can be reserved for your gaming at all times. Now that’s impressive!

Playing games in 4K on the PlayStation 4 Pro is like wearing glasses for the first time—it’s that dramatic of an improvement over 1080p. Although the PlayStation 4/PlayStation 4 Slim offers HDR support via a firmware update, the experience of HDR in 4K is completely mesmerizing. Moreover, the draw distance in games has been dramatically improved allowing objects in the background to have greater detail and focus.

Some of the biggest improvements in games aside from graphics that you will see are the worlds in which you play. Textures are now much more realistic to the point that you can see dirt on clothing or rust on metal that looks real. Frame rates are much more stable, and shadows appear sharper with cleaner details at a further distance.

Though the PlayStation 4 Pro will not currently playback 4K UHD Blu-ray discs, you can stream 4K UHD content from Netflix and YouTube.

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Improved visual enhancements for 1080p HD TV owners

If you have yet to upgrade to a 4K TV, the PlayStation 4 Pro offers owners of 1080p HD TVs visual benefits as well. The console’s increased computing and graphical power allow games such as Titanfall 2 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, through patches that automatically download, to run at a full 1080p resolution and offer more stable frame rates.

Games like Rise of the Tomb Raider give you a choice over visual modes where you can choose between a focus on frame rate, resolution, or other graphical enhancements. The end result for 1080p HD TV owners is an overall smother experience with faster load times. Take a look at the screen shot below and you will see some of the graphical benefits the PlayStation 4 Pro offers for 1080p HDTV owners. PlayStation 4 Pro 1080p screenshot of Titanfall 2 on the left compared to the original PlayStation 4 upscaled 1080p Titanfall 2 screenshot on the right.

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PlayStation VR enhancements

If you own a PlayStation VR or are thinking of getting one then you will definitely want to pickup the PlayStation 4 Pro. Many PlayStation VR games will benefit greatly from the muscle of the PlayStation 4 Pro; developers have access to extra rendering fidelity so you will see a lot more anti-aliasing and enhanced graphics.

For example, Playroom VR is vastly improved. The resolution has been bumped up and the graphics are clearer and more crisp resulting in a more immersive experience. Similarly, Rigs: Mechanized Combat League has an increased resolution and the anti-aliasing on the 3D models has been improved.

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Final thoughts

There’s no doubt the Xbox One S and the PlayStation 4 Pro are better all-around consoles than their predecessors. Both consoles offer a load of features that make them desirable devices regardless of comparisons with the previous models. Whether it’s the Xbox One S’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray support, or the PlayStation 4 Pro’s native 4K gaming output –it’s easy to see that both consoles are must have for gamers.

Best Buy Canada makes it easy for you to trade in your existing Xbox One or PlayStation 4. Right now, if you trade in towards a shiny new Xbox One S or PlayStation 4 Pro you will get a $50 bonus credit. Just head on over to Best Buy Canada’s trade-in games section to find out all the details.

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Jon Scarr
Based in Toronto, Jon is a proud Canadian who has a serious passion for gaming. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry with over 20 years experience. Jon loves to talk about gaming and tech, come say hi and join the conversation with Jon on Twitter @4Scarrs_Gaming.

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