June 15, 2024

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xScreen review: Turn Xbox Series S into a portable console

xScreen review: Turn Xbox Series S into a portable console

If you’ve ever owned a monitor for a PSone or GameCube, the xScreen will instantly feel familiar to you. The xScreen is an 11.6-inch (1080p) display attached to the back of the Xbox Series S that turns Microsoft’s mini-console into more of an Xbox laptop for gaming on the go. It’s a modern take on the narrow 5-inch LCD screens we’ve seen connected to consoles in the past, and it’s a great accessory if you never want to worry about connecting your Xbox to a TV while traveling.

Unfortunately, this portability is not cheap. xScreen costs $249.99It’s about the same price as the Xbox Series S, so you’ll really want to get a portable Xbox to buy this one. I’ve been testing xScreen for the past few weeks, and I think it’s one of the best implementations of the portable console gaming concept. But it is far from perfect.

xScreen is really all about its screen. The 11.6-inch screen supports up to 1080p at 60Hz and has surprisingly good viewing angles. If you’re looking to play outside, the panel is rated at 350 lumens, and it’s matte, which helps a lot in direct sunlight. The only real limitations to playing outside is simply that you’ll need a cord long enough to power the Xbox Series S.

I’ve played multiple games for hours with xScreen and have never noticed any serious issues with input lag or ghosting. It’s a solid panel, except for the black levels. If you’re playing titles with a lot of low-light scenes, the panel sometimes struggles to really nail the black levels, and games may lack some detail as a result.

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xScreen was able to connect to Xbox Series S through the USB-A port and the HDMI port. You must assemble the USB first before the unit slots are screwed into place and secured with latch on both sides. The attachment seems very secure, and I haven’t had any connection issues or worries about it being unplugged.

UPspec Gaming, the makers of xScreen, have done a solid job of matching the size of the xScreen to the Xbox Series S, so it all folds up into a neat little package once you’re done playing. The white in the xScreen doesn’t quite match the Xbox Series S, but it’s close enough that I only noticed it under a certain light when I was inspecting the xScreen closely.

xScreen is an 11.6-inch screen for Xbox Series S.
Photo by Tom Warren/The Verge

Setting up xScreen does require some work, though. The Xbox Series S immediately defaults to 720p output for the xScreen, and I had to switch to 1080p in the Xbox settings menu to correct this. I’ve also enabled the HDMI CEC options so that when the screen is closed, the Xbox Series S shuts down. This is a neat integration, but you’ll need to use the Xbox power button to turn the console back on.

To avoid any damage to the xScreen or Xbox, I also had to make sure the Xbox Series S’s Power Mode was enabled, so that it would turn off completely instead of sitting in standby. This is important, because the xScreen covers the main slot on the Xbox Series S when folded, and the Xbox will still give off some heat that could damage the screen if it’s on standby. Fortunately, the Xbox Series S runs super fast, so the lack of standby mode is a minor inconvenience.

xScreen gets its power from the Xbox Series S USB port, so you don’t have to worry about a separate power supply, simply plugging your Xbox to a wall is business as usual. You will need to use Wi-Fi to connect, because the xScreen blocks the Ethernet port on the S Series and the additional USB port. This only leaves the USB port in the front open for additional accessories.

Latches keep xScreen in place.
Photo by Tom Warren/The Verge

UPspec Gaming has also made available an optional nested overlay for use in FPS games, and there’s a range of built-in controls for screen settings and the volume of the built-in speakers. The speakers are surprisingly loud – but not in a good way. There is no mute shortcut, and the volume controls don’t seem to affect the volume after a certain level. The speakers are definitely a disappointing aspect of this $249.99 accessory.

If you want to prop everything up, there are optional feet that move the entire unit toward the rack position. I rarely use xScreen this way, but it may be useful if you are limited in space or want your screen to be higher in certain environments.

I believe an optional carrying case is necessary for the xScreen. Plugging it into my Xbox and then folding it down, I noticed that the xScreen would squeak and vibrate if I applied any pressure on it from the top. Not sure I can trust this tossed in a backpack without some protection. A hard carrying case does a good job of protecting the xScreen, but an additional $59.99 is optional.

The xScreen speakers are disappointing.
Photo by Tom Warren/The Verge

Speaking of build quality, I’m also a little nervous about the hinge on the xScreen. I didn’t push it back for testing, but it does feel a little flabby, and I wouldn’t recommend this to young children who might not handle it carefully enough to not damage it. This probably isn’t a problem for most people, but if you’re planning to use the stand’s placement direction, this is where the potential for damage seems high.

Despite some of the xScreen’s screen flaws, I had hours of fun with this small screen. UPspec Gaming has created something unique here for the Xbox Series S, and it’s in a neat little package that integrates really well. You’re really paying a high price of $249.99 for this neat integration, especially when there are so many good portable monitors out there that will do a good job at half the price.

However, there is nothing quite like xScreen. It made me wish I was a kid again, take my Xbox with me everywhere and never have to worry about a TV to plug in or a good internet connection for Xbox Cloud gaming. It’s an old school idea, in a modern and well-executed package.