Microsoft, like Sony, has released a mid-cycle upgrade of the Xbox One dubbed Xbox One S. I cannot say for certain what the 'S' stands for but two of the most important new features are the UHD Blu-ray player and support for HDR (High Dynamic Range) in games. Xbox One S supports 4K/HDR for streaming but games are limited to maximum 1080p HD (+HDR).
Xbox One S is not as powerful as the PS4 Pro but it has other advantages and sells at a lower price, which makes it more of a direct competitor to the PS4 Slim. Xbox One has trailed PS4 in sales more or less since the launch of both consoles three years ago so can Xbox One S put Microsoft back in the spotlight? Is it a good UHD Blu-ray player? And how much do games benefit from HDR? We intend to find out.
The first Xbox One was a clunky and clumsy box. It required a big external power supply and, to me, felt like a rushed job that did not live up to Microsoft's usual industrial design standards. That is why I am so happy to report that Xbox One S is in an entirely different league.
The power supply is now built-in but Microsoft has still managed to make it 40% smaller, volumetrically speaking. Both the console and the controller are white. One half of the box is smooth plastic and the other half textured (with an integrated cooling fan on top). The disc drive is black and placed to align with the dividing center line. The lower base is also black. I think Xbox One S looks incredibly cool. It looks like an inviting but still serious game console, unlike for example Nvidia Shield that looks like a game console conceived in a teenage boy's dream. I own the Nvidia Shield, too, but would never place it out in the open. The Xbox One S is meant to be seen.
Input and output ports are placed on the back. While Microsoft has backtracked (a lot) on its plan to make Xbox One part TV set-top box, part game console, Xbox One S still features the HDMI In port for cable/sat set-top boxes. That allows you to route through your TV set-top box and control it via the Xbox. Besides that, there are obviously HDMI Out (2.0a with HDCP 2.2), USB ports, IR out (infrared), optical audio, and a LAN port. And of course the power port for the standard two-legged power plug. There is no dedicated Kinect port. The gesture-based Kinect is no longer a core component of Microsoft's Xbox strategy.
Microsoft has made some changes to the internal (PC) hardware but Xbox One S is not significantly faster than Xbox One, and I think that is important to emphasize since Sony has made the PS4 Pro more than twice as fast as the standard PS4. Microsoft is instead planning to release a very powerful Xbox "Scorpio" in late 2017.
These are the specifications for Xbox One S:
CPU: 1.75GHz AMD "Jaguar" 8 cores
GPU: 1.4 teraflops, AMD Radeon 12 compute units
Memory: 8GB DDR3 RAM
Storage size: 500GB, 1TB or 2TB
For comparison the old Xbox One could push 1.31 teraflops of graphics performance so there is not any significant differences here. The original PS4 has 1.84 teraflops and the new PS4 Pro has 4.2 teraflops. Microsoft has said that next year's Xbox "Scorpio" will have 6 teraflops of graphics performance. Of course, teraflops is no the full story but it is a reliable indicator of GPU performance.
In other words, games will run more or less like on Xbox One, except that Xbox One S supports HDR (High Dynamic Range), which will be the focus of the "gaming" section in this review. One detail that it very important to highlight here is that each single game needs a software patch in order to support HDR. Some developers will not enable HDR, others will, but games do not come in HDR by default.
In our "measurements" section we include all measurements and our suggested calibration settings. If you want to learn more about our test methodology click here.
1m20s (until movie starts playing) / 40s (until menu comes up)
As you can see Xbox One S is not the worst power hog out there but no exactly an energy star either. It has lower power consumption than PS4 Pro but is not as powerful either.
For comparison the first revision of Xbox One consumed more than double when streaming. The Xbox 360 even more. Microsoft is moving in the right direction but just know that it will cost you something to use it as a Netflix streamer on a regular basis. Most dedicated streamer boxes such as Apple TV, Roku, FireTV, and Chromecast consume less than 5W when streaming video.
Blu-ray, TV apps & media
In our review of PS4 Pro we gracefully skipped everything related to disc playback. As you may know, Sony has decided not to include an UHD Blu-ray drive in its latest console. That is why we are extra excited about Xbox One S having one.
To use the UHD Blu-ray features in Xbox One S you first need to download the ‘Blu-ray app’ from the Microsoft store, which made me chuckle – just a little. At the same time it is also evidence of a strong trend that we are seeing across consumer electronics segments. Take for example smartphones and consider that almost every major feature of the past - and even sometimes entire markets (Uber, Airbnb etc) - can be reduced to an app on a screen. GPS units, calculators etc. are today reduced to an app on a screen. Of course, oftentimes you also need hardware and other factors to deliver the service but the same thing is happening in the AV world, and it will likely continue this way. TV services will morph into apps, game discs into items in an app store, and so one. Software can be continuously updated so new features can be added and supported. In some years from now a game console may even be reduced to game streaming service, which is already happening on a small scale with services such as PlayStation Now and Geforce Now.
Nevertheless, Ultra HD Blu-ray is one of the unique features of Xbox One S so we naturally took it for a spin. It worked like advertised. Over the past year, we have watched several UHD Blu-ray discs on lots of different TVs ranging from mid-range to high-end. I will not go into this discussion here other than saying that to fully benefit from the HDR (High Dynamic Range) component of UHD Blu-ray you need either a FALD (full array local dimming) LCD or OLED TV. We shared our thoughts on the matter in the UHD Blu-ray review. For this review, Xbox One S was connected to an LG E6 OLED TV.
Barring any errors in implementation, all UHD Blu-ray players should deliver the same picture quality. There is some talk about the Samsung K8500 and Xbox One S suffering from an error in the Chroma output but our experience was that the negative effect stemming from this is minimal, bordering to negligible. Nevertheless, we think Microsoft should fix it in a future firmware update.
Microsoft has already shown willingness to add new features to the UHD Blu-ray "app" on Xbox One S. As we speak, Dolby Atmos and bitstream audio support is rolling out to preview members. We are not part of the Xbox Preview program so we cannot comment on how it works but adding Dolby Atmos support to both movies and games is a major step forward for Xbox.
The optical disc drive in Xbox One S is certainly not silent so if that is a concern you may want to consider a dedicated player. Our sample was placed inside furniture and since Xbox One has cooling fans on the top where there was lots of free space inside the furniture it did not get particularly hot while delivering stunning UHD Blu-ray pictures. When closing the slider on the furniture we never heard it spin; neither the disc drive or fan. The console gets hotter and the fan rotates faster when gaming but because the fan is located on the top of the cabinet it can more easily get rid of hot air when placed inside furniture.
Xbox One S cannot escape the usual disc related annoyances. Compared to streaming it takes forever to load a disc and you have to endure stupid splash screens, small video commercials for studios, piracy warnings etc. UHD Blu-rays are generally not as bad in this regard as regular HD Blu-ray have become but there are plenty of small annoyances to irritate you. Chapter selection is slow, rewind/fast-forward on a disc can be comical, and sometimes the Blu-ray app on Xbox refused to play after skipping fast through chapters, forcing us to close the app and start over. It is not exactly a joy to control disc playback with a game controller either.
Still, these things can be ignored once you see how great UHD Blu-ray picture quality can be. To "test" Xbox One S we enjoyed Life of Pi, The Revenant, and Deadpool. All three look stunning in HDR.
Compared to stand-alone UHD Blu-ray players there are arguments in favor of these such as noise concerns, design considerations, analog audio output, and Dolby Vision / Atmos support. Dolby Vision is a very recent development on UHD Blu-ray but Xbox One S will soon get Atmos. All in all, I think Xbox One S is a very decent UHD Blu-ray player that will get better going forward through software updates. I doubt that stand-alone players will enjoy the same dedication towards software updates as Xbox One S but of course I would love to be proven wrong. The only thing you will not get on Xbox One S is support for Dolby Vision as it requires a dedicated chip inside.
Another thing I want to point out is Xbox One S's HDMI control. If you have a recent TV, the console can turn on and off your TV. I had some trouble in getting Xbox One S to play nice with the LG E6 but eventually I found out that Microsoft has included settings in two separate sections of the menu, which solved the issue. I now just grab the controller to turn on the console and TV, and press the Xbox button to turn both off – for the AV industry this is almost like magic.
Xbox One S also features a range of apps, including Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO Now, YouTube, Hulu, Vudu, Xbox Movies & TV, FandangoNow etc.
Before I get to that I want to comment on the overall user interface on Xbox One. As you know if you have owned an Xbox, Microsoft made a major user interface revamp in late 2015. It went from looking like Windows 8 to look more akin to Windows 10. At the same time it also tweaked menus to make them faster, and introduced lot of other features.
I think the change was for the better and Xbox One S naturally comes with the new user interface. However, I still find the dashboard mildly confusing and at times too slow to navigate, especially considering how powerful a game console is.
At the top you have "Home", "Community", "OneGuide", and "Store" tabs but because you navigate around with up-down-left-right commands you often lose sight of where you are. Suddenly you are in the store when you tried to access the highlight boxes on the right side of the dashboard. There are small content boxes everywhere and it is not always clear why. In my opinion it looks too disorderly and lacks simplicity.
I would also like to point out that Xbox suffers from the same "illogical hierarchical" problem that plagues Google's Android TV user interface. You can get used to it but it is never entirely clear where the "back" button takes you. Sometimes it takes you one hierarchical step back - as expected - but other times it takes you to the last used app or game, and other times it takes you one step to the side. No matter whether you have gotten used to it or not it presents a user experience issue. Going back to the dashboard, which is where everything starts, should also be the last step, especially on a TV screen that you navigate via a remote. Apple has understood this, which is why the tvOS user interface feels so intuitive and simple to use, even if you try it for the first time.
Nevertheless you learn to adapt. You always do. And after some time the main thing that bothered me was the small delay when pressing the back button, and the slow app loading times. I can live with that but in this state Xbox One S will never be my preferred living room device.
One cool thing I noticed about the Netflix app is that even the Netflix user interface is in HDR, which is not something I have seen on other apps yet. This means that the Netflix logo is even more vivid red that you are used to. The Netflix app on Xbox One S also support Netflix's new "video preview" feature that plays a small preview as you scroll through the interface (not to be confused with Netflix's auto-play feature which some people seem to hate). This is the first time I have seen the video preview feature in action and I think it has potential (a video says more than a thousand pictures?).
The Netflix app on Xbox One S plays both 4K and HDR, unlike on PS4 Pro. While Netflix's 4K/HDR content is not as beautiful as UHD Blu-rays – the bitrate is significantly lower – some of the recent additions look quite good and Netflix is offering a healthy catalog of 4K. The HDR catalog still has room to grow.
Speaking of 4K, the Youtube insisted on staying in 1080p HD territory even though the Xbox One recognized the TV as a 4K TV. There is no HDR in YouTube either and I am not sure if the Xbox One S can decode VP9 Profile2, which is requires for YouTube HDR.
I could comment on each separate app, including Hulu, Amazon, HBO Now, and the built-in media player app, but instead I just want to say that Xbox One S suffers from some of the same problems as PS4 Pro. Even if Microsoft fumbled its go-to-market message at launch, Xbox One is first and foremost a game console – always has been - and it shows. It does a lot of things right in streaming apps but there is no escaping that it is slow to load apps (see measurement section), has limited app memory / multi-tasking, high power consumption (although lower than PS4 Pro – see measurement section), and other rough edges. Despite having so much muscle power under the hood it often stuttered while navigating apps, and it can take too long to switch between them. As I said before, Xbox One S will never be my preferred living room device.
I want to praise its UHD Blu-ray capabilities and its support for 4K/HDR in certain apps but there are more polished streaming boxes out there with wider support for apps. See apps and UHD Blu-ray as a bonus, not as the core competency of Xbox One S.
I did not use the Xbox's HDMI in / out capabilities to route a set-top box through it as I generally feel that HDMI CEC solves this issue – at least for me. At one point, Microsoft even promised to bring a PVR feature to Xbox One for over-the-air broadcast but it will not be released, which underlines the strategic shift that Xbox One has gone through. It has went from being "part set-top box, part game console", to "game console with some added media features". And I think that is fine. Microsoft's previous strategy to bridge the old world with the new never really made sense. If Microsoft wants media on Xbox One S it should focus on apps.
Gaming in HDR
Xbox One S is the first console from Microsoft to support HDR (High Dynamic Range). While Sony has decided to enable HDR on the original PS4 as well as the new PS4 Pro, Microsoft has launched a new console to take advantage of the future foundation for video reproduction. It is important to underline that while Xbox One S supports HDR it does not support 4K gaming (it upscales to 4K) like PS4 Pro (that also upscales but can, depending on game complexity, run games at true 4K). The GPU inside Xbox One S is nowhere near as powerful as the one in PS4 Pro. Microsoft's answer to PS4 Pro is coming in one year from now in the form of Xbox "Scorpio". That is not relevant now so let us see what HDR gaming can do for games on Xbox One S.
What is HDR gaming
To understand HDR (High Dynamic Range) I feel it is necessary to go over a few technical things first. This is copy-paste from our PS4 Pro review so if you have already read that, you can skip it.
HDR is another story than 4K because HDR does not actually require much extra graphics processing. It is an end-to-end system that uses a different signaling format (PQ - perceptual quantizer) and a more future-proof video container (the Rec.2020 container) along with 10-bit colors per channel (30-bit in total) and a wider color gamut (Rec.2020). This is condensed into what the industry calls the HDR10 format. There are two other relevant HDR formats (Dolby Vision and HLG) but PS4 Pro supports only the HDR10 format.
That all sounds terribly advanced but just think of it this way:
SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) operates with a small color gamut (Rec.709 / sRGB), 8-bit colors, and a limited dynamic range.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) operates with a very large color gamut (up to Rec.2020 but todays TVs show DCI-P3), 10-bit colors, and a very wide dynamic range.
Of course, it is not possible to show you HDR on your monitor / device as it does not support HDR but some illustrations give you an idea of what to expect. Here is one from the UHD Alliance.
HDR is a new foundation for the entire video industry that will allow everyone from movie producers to game developers to reproduce video with far more punch, more vivid and true colors, and more details in both dark and bright areas at the same time (we will show you later).
And one last thing before I tell you about the game experience. I have seen some people argue that PCs and game engines in general have had HDR rendering for years so HDR on PS4 Pro and Xbox One S is "not really new". That is wrong, just wrong... While it is true that game engines have rendered game internally in HDR for many years – also on game consoles – this has nothing to do with HDR video that requires a full chain of events to happen, including a HDR TV with special hardware. The first HDR TVs were launched in 2015. PCs support gaming in HDR with the latest generation of Nvidia and AMD cards but there are no HDR PC monitors out there and not really any PC games that output in HDR video. In this particular area, game consoles are ahead. PCs are ahead on raw muscle power.
That is all, let us move on.
The HDR gaming experience
Far from all games are available in HDR so choose carefully. As time passes, we are sure that more game studios will embrace the new technology to improve the game experience but for now the list is fairly short on both Xbox and PlayStation.
The first game I powered up in HDR was Forza Horizon 3. I have always been a huge fan of racing games but I prefer the simulation genre over the more arcade-like genre of Forza. That is of course entirely personal so what I can say is that you should nevertheless try Forza Horizon 3 if you own a HDR TV (the free demo has HDR enabled, too) because it is a very good showcase for what HDR can do for the game experience.
Right from the beginning you see how Forza Horizon 3 takes advantage of the deeper colors shades that are included in the Rec.2020 container of the HDR10 standard. While no TVs can actually reproduce the full Rec.2020 color space today, peaking at DCI-P3, you will get previously-unattainable colors such as the pure Ferrari red or strong Lamborghini orange. It is immediately evident from playing Forza.
What you also get with Forza is a chance to experience brightness peaks while playing. As the sun bathes the landscape in light you notice how much more realistic it looks. The way the game developer has designed the tracks ensures that the sun is most often out of direct sight but at when playing in the evening and the sun shines in from the corner of the screen you sometimes feel like squinting your eyes.
Different HDR TVs have different peak brightness levels and clipping points (the point where all highlight details above a certain point will be reproduced undifferentiated) so the game developer has included a HDR clipping setup screen (see above to the right) at the beginning of the game, which is a clever idea, I think.
Some of the tracks will take you in and out of forests. Driving through the landscape you will notice how rich the colors look and how intense the sun is when it finally breaks through the treetops. You will notice how much more varied and realistic the landscape can look in the expanded dynamic range and wider color gamut. The headlights of cars suddenly look realistic.
Like I said in my PS4 Pro review, it is possible to switch on and off HDR from video settings menu on the console to see the difference. This is also possible on Xbox One S and switching back and forth reveals that HDR is a significant change. The SDR version of the game looks a little dull, lacking intensity, and ultimately realism. It is also less detailed, especially in the dark and bright parts of the picture, despite the Xbox One S not rendering in higher resolution than the standard Xbox One. The bright skies just look plain wrong in SDR.
In my PS4 Pro review, I included a discussion about TVs and the hardware required to render true HDR, as intended. I will not go over everything again but point out that while many TVs claim to support the HDR10 format that Xbox One S uses there are major differences between the high-end and mid-range TVs. Except for the flagship LCD TVs, most other HDR LCD TVs utilize so-called Edge LED where the light diodes are placed along the sides and light is evenly distributed across the LCD panel via a diffuser system. The challenge is that if the game asks the TV to render a very bright scene – for example the beaches in Forza – the TV will increase the backlight intensity and destroy the darkest areas of the picture. HDR requires a very, very high contrast ratio, preferably over 1,000,000:1 but the native contrast ratio on LCD TVs never exceeds 5000:1. That is why there are so many reports about HDR game consoles "blowing out" or "washing out" the bright scenes. This is not the fault of the game or the game console but a characteristic of that specific TV. Ideally the TV needs to be capable of controlling the dynamic range from pure black to bright white in each separate pixel – or pixel-level as the industry calls it – but that currently requires an expensive OLED TV. High-end LCD TVs can imitate this level of control by utilizing typically 300-500 local dimming zones. The advantage here is that these so-called FALD (full array local dimming) LCD TVs can go visibly brighter than OLED TVs but do not exhibit the same level of pixel-level controls since 300-500 zones in total has to cover more than 8 million individual pixels.
HDR is hard to do properly and to reproduce consistently so that every game scene in HDR looks as the creator intended. It currently requires a flagship TV. Hopefully that will change in the near future. My experiences shared in this review are all based on my time with Forza Horizon 3 on a LG E6 OLED TV.
HDR games on Xbox One S: Battlefield 1 Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Final Fantasy XV Forza Horizon 3 Gears of War 4 Hitman NBA 2K17 ReCore Resident Evil 7 Biohazard Scalebound World of Tanks
World of Tanks is another HDR-enabled game and while it is not the best showcase for HDR it still proves how even simpler games can benefit from HDR. Driving around in the landscape you will see a more realistic and intense representation of the sky and especially the sun, as seen below.
When you turn your tank to face the sun, the feeling of getting blinded adds realism. World of Tanks does not utilize the same intense colors as Forza Horizon 3 but at times you will see how even semi-bright object appear more vivid.
One thing I particularly liked about HDR in World of Tanks is that it is an open-world game so as you drive around in your tank you will encounter various landscapes and situations. HDR can help render each landscape more faithfully, especially when driving from a very bright area to a darker area. I can imagine that the RPG genre could benefit hugely from HDR but as you may know games such as The Witcher 3 will not be updated to benefit from HDR. Hopefully future RPGs will embrace it.
Other games that take advantage of HDR on Xbox One S are Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Hitman, and Gears of War 4 to name some. Unfortunately, none of these games appeal to me. I was disappointed to learn that Rise of Tomb Raider is not available in HDR because it feels like it was almost made, conceptually, as a showcase for HDR. I would also have loved to play a game like INSIDE in HDR.
I enjoyed playing a variety of HDR and non-HDR games on PS4 Pro because the console also boosts resolution and visuals because of its more than twice as powerful GPU. That sort of exemplifies my enthusiasm right now for games not available in HDR on Xbox One S. While there are many games I would like to try on Xbox I will wait for the HDR patch to arrive because playing them without offers no discernible difference over the old Xbox One.
To me, in this regard, Sony has the upper hand until Xbox "Scorpio" arrives. I dedicated some time to other games on Xbox One S like FIFA17, Limbo, and LEGO and while all of them are nice games you start to feel like something is missing. It is never fun to downgrade and HDR has that effect. You notice all the colors you are missing and the limited dynamic range. In some games it matters more than in others but I think game developers should make it a priority to support HDR.
I did not share many experiences about watching movies in HDR in the previous section, primarily because we do that a lot in our TV reviews as well as the UHD Blu-ray review but one thing I think is worth mentioning is that while HDR in movies is sometimes a mixed bag, it is a more universal improvement in games. That of course has something to do with how you film a movie and create a game. It is a real (most of the time) versus simulated environment. It appears that some movie creators still need to experiment with how to best present the HDR effect in many scenes whereas game creators have the advantage of having game engines that already internally render in HDR lighting. Game creators can also go a little more over the top with HDR effects than movie creators can without making the viewer feel cheated. While I generally enjoy movies such as Life of Pi and The Revenant that are really well done in HDR, there are also some less stellar releases.
Based on my, although limited, time with HDR in games I am extremely optimistic about the future for the new video technology in gaming. However, I have to repeat that PS4 Pro delivers overall more polished game graphics in both SDR and HDR because of its more powerful GPU. HDR is only one component of the visual experience – resolution is another – but it all adds up and despite HDR being an important step forward for Xbox One S, PS4 Pro delivers a more significant improvement.
I have said before that I like Sony's DualShock controller a lot. Some find it too small but I find it perfect. However, I have to agree with those who believe that Xbox controller is better. In fact, it is excellent.
The Xbox One S controller is white and has a textured back, which feels very nice despite everything being plastic. The analog sticks are better positioned in my opinion (compared to Sony’s DualShock). Microsoft has made some minor tweaks to the controller for Xbox One S and I think everything is for the better. The only things I like better on the DualShock are the shoulder buttons.
At the bottom you can connect headphones. Unlike Sony's controller that you have to recharge via a USB cable, Microsoft uses standard AA batteries. This means that it will last significantly longer but cost you more in the long run. I prefer Sony's solution even if it means that I have to recharge it more often. You can also connect the Xbox One S controller to the console via a cable but it will not recharge the batteries. It will simply transform it into a wired controller.
All in all, I think Microsoft's big investments in the controller are well spent.
Like Sony, Microsoft has released a mid-cycle console refresh. Unlike Sony, Microsoft has not made the GPU faster in any significant way. Still, you have to consider what Xbox One S is. It is not designed to be a new high-end game console because that console will not come out until late 2017 with Xbox "Scorpio".
The cheapest UHD Blu-ray player available despite also being a full-fledged game console
Xbox One S was introduced at very aggressive price points; so aggressive in fact that it has become the cheapest UHD Blu-ray player available on the market despite also being a full-fledged game console. And despite the optical drive not being silent, having a chroma output issue, and lacking both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos (coming very soon with an update), I think it is a very decent UHD Blu-ray player and it gives Xbox One S an advantage over PS4.
When Microsoft launched the Xbox One generation 3 years ago, the company positioned it as part TV box, part game console. The company has since backpedaled on that strategy and abandoned promised features such as DVR. I think that is the right direction. If Microsoft wants Xbox One to be a living room device it should stop being stuck in a world of set-top boxes, HDMI pass-through, infrared commands, and instead focus entirely on apps. Microsoft finally seems to accept this but compared to for example the Apple TV I think the app experience falls short on Xbox One S. Its major advantage is that it supports 4K/HDR streaming but only for a select few apps. On the other hand, apps are slow, power consumption still too high, and multi-tasking severely lacking. Consider media apps on Xbox a nice added bonus, not a defining feature.
Then there is the game experience. If I did not have a PS4 Pro standing next to Xbox One S I would have said that this is where it shines. HDR gaming is a truly important step – far from a gimmick. It not only improves the dynamic range, highlight and shadow details, and colors, showing you previously-unattainable colors such as Ferrari red and Lamborghini orange, it also elevates the gaming experience in doing so. But it cannot match PS4 Pro's extra muscle power that also improves resolution, textures, frame rate, and more. Another important point is that you currently need a high-end FALD LCD or OLED TV to take full advantage of HDR.
All things considered, especially the price, I think Xbox One S is fantastic package. With support for 4K/HDR streaming, UHD Blu-ray, and HDR gaming, it outperforms the standard PS4 and for that I want to give it my recommendation. However, if you want to best console graphics available today you have to buy PS4 Pro – or wait a year for Xbox "Scorpio".
Apps is an evaluation of the app catalogue and the quality / user friendliness of the apps Features is an evaluation of the built-in functionality and how useful it is, as well as build quality User experience is an evaluation of user friendliness and the general use of the box, including the remote control Total score weighted as: 40% Apps, 30% Features, 30% User experience. All scores are calculated based on a moving maximum target, defined by what we currently consider the best on market. It is then presented as a percentage. This means that a score will fall over time as new and better media boxes set new standards. This allows you to compare scores across years. A score of 100% in a given category means that it is consider the best available media box in this category to date.