Why the XSX Looks the Same (and That's OK)
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It recently came out that the current system UI for the Xbox Series S/X is only 1080p. Naturally, this led to a lot of criticism, especially from PlayStation enthusiasts since the PS5’s system UI was revealed to be 4K. Even though the Series S/X system UI isn’t 2K (Series S) or 4K (Series X), that really isn’t a problem. Here’s why.

First, the system UI, while important, holds no sway over in-game experiences from the gameplay to the UI. The system UI is important as it’s how you interact with the console out-of-game. Sending and receiving messages, navigating to your games, searching the store, etc. Even switching between games if you’re using new features like the quick resume, the system UI is more function over resolution. If it’s at least 1080p for a minimum consistent HD presentation, there’s not really a problem because the UI exists essentially to get into the content you want to access.

Aside from the function and ease of use, there’s another thing to recognize with the UI. While a higher system UI resolution would be great, unless Microsoft finds a way to limit the boost in necessary resources for the operating system, a 1080p resolution for the out-of-game experience would free up resources for games, which is the biggest reason why you’re purchasing a console. It’s the games and media options and their performance that should take priority. The system UI just needs to be intuitive and well designed, regardless of the resolution.

There’s a reason why I’m bringing up the issue of resources. Before I get into the description of the issue, I want to acknowledge that both the PS5 and Xbox Series S/X have significant increases in resources, power, and efficiency of both according to reports. This means that if there’s a bottleneck issue, it probably won’t land as quickly or be as pronounced as the PS4 or Xbox One. However, the more resources put toward the operating system and the UI resolution also means that there’s fewer resources for the games. Part of the reason why the Xbox One and One S’s in-game resolutions were a little under 1080p was the amount of resources put toward the out-of-game console experience.

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Regardless, Microsoft has already responded to complaints that the preview UI was only 1080p. So all of this talking is just theory and might not even need to be addressed. Any perceived shortcomings of the 1080p UI could be fixed by or shortly after launch. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Team Xbox found a way to limit the loss of available resources for games while increasing the out-of-game resolution. They could find ways to increase out-of-game options, including more on-console services and a higher system UI resolution. Depending on how efficiently they can get the next-gen consoles to run, there is a lot that they can do, even on the light-weight Series S.

Jon Gronli
Jon Gronli
@JGronli

Contributing Writer
Date: 11/10/2020

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