The Xbox Series S is Great for Cloud Gaming

Xbox Series S Cloud Gaming Graphic

When it comes to playing cloud games on your TV, you have a number of options. If you have a Smart TV from the last few years, you can use apps from your TV’s app-store, for example the Samsung Gaming Hub, to play Xbox Cloud Gaming, GeForce NOW, Boosteroid, Amazon Luna and more.

However TV manufacturers are notorious for the lack of firmware updates after a year or two of a model’s release. For this reason, folks with older TVs or folks just looking to stay up to date, often choose to run their TV off of a set top box or dongle (while a video game console can fall into this category, they are often considered separate categories).

At the low end of things, you have Google’s Chromecast devices, Amazon’s Fire TV sticks and Roku devices – the last of which hasn’t really gotten involved in the cloud gaming scene yet.

On the high end, you have what is usually considered the undisputed champion of set top boxes, the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro. This Android TV device comes with some serious horse-power, 16GB of storage and a $199 price tag.

Shield TV Pro
The NVIDIA Shield TV Pro 4K60 Streaming Android TV Device

The Shield TV is a fantastic device. With it, you can play GeForce NOW at up to 4K 60FPS, and it has access to all the other cloud gaming applications available on Android TV (you can even play Xcloud on Android TV).

As great as the NVIDIA Shield TV is, another device is tantalizingly close in price that could be an even better option for you – the Xbox Series S.

The Xbox Series S as a Streaming Set Top Box

The Xbox Series S is listed for $299.99 but very frequently can be found on sale for under $250. This puts it in the same ballpark as the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro (which rarely sees a sale).

Xbox Series S

One of the brilliant aspects of the Series S is the inclusion of a fully baked version of Microsoft’s Edge browser that provides a pretty great experience with Cloud Gaming applications like GeForce NOW, Boosteroid, Amazon Luna, Antstream Arcade and more. It is no accident that this works well; Microsoft explicitly enabled a game-mode for the Browser to support this use case. You won’t get 4K60 out of GFN in the device browser (yet at least), though.

The Series S is also a great place to stream Xbox Cloud games, of course. Xbox consoles have, without a doubt, the best interface into the Xbox cloud gaming service.

Like the NVIDIA Shield TV, the Series S supports 4K video streaming from all your favorite services, HDR (and includes both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos) and can output at a theoretical max 120 FPS.

The size differential with a Shield TV Pro isn’t too bad either:

  • NVIDIA Shield TV Pro: 6.3 by 3.9 by 1 inches
  • Xbox Series S: 11 by 5.9 by 2.6 inches

The Xbox Series S certainly isn’t dongle sized, but it is vastly smaller than the Series X and any of the PlayStation 5 options.

It also comes with 512 GB of storage for local content. Which brings us to the next point…

A True Hybrid Gaming Device

While Android TV devices do allow you to download and play a (subset of) Android games (those which support controllers). The game offerings aren’t going to impress many gamers.

The Xbox Series S on the other hand is a bonafide next-generation gaming device with a massive catalog of console games to download and play at your disposal. While it can’t support the Series X 4K120 performance numbers, it does play games at up to 1080p or 1440p and up to 120FPS. It doesn’t break a sweat at 1080p60.

Even if you are all in on cloud gaming (like many of us are here at Cloud Dosage), there isn’t really any downside of having the option to install a game locally, particularly in cases where the game isn’t available yet on cloud services. Options are good right?

What about Project Keystone?

For a while, it looked like Xbox was going to release its own smaller streaming-specific device. The effort to develop this was reportedly labeled as Project Keystone. Unfortunately, Xbox decided to scrap the project (for now at least).

Xbox Streaming Box
Prototype Xbox Streaming Box

We suspect at least one of the reasons the device was scrapped was that it could potentially eat into Xbox Series S sales, and, at a reported $100+ price point, it didn’t offer enough price differential from the Series S to justify its existence.

While a dedicated streaming device from Xbox would be an amazing gadget, we shouldn’t forget that the Xbox Series S is a great little cloud gaming device in its own right. It’s priced not that much higher than others in the space and comes with the flexibility of utilizing next-gen local console gaming as well.

Xbox Series S Giveaway

So, why don’t we go ahead and give one away! You can enter our Xbox Series S giveaway from now until the end of April when we will pick one winner. The raffle is open to everyone in North America or Europe.

Update: The winner (Nellie) has been contacted and has received her Xbox.


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