Microsoft’s Project Scorpio may be a seriously capable games console, but this power-packed device should also double as a home cinema system thanks to its support for 4K HDR video streaming, UHD Blu-ray playback and other impressive media specs.
Microsoft’s next console, simply code-named Project Scorpio, could be the most eagerly anticipated gaming machine release for a long while. Not just because this looks set to be the most powerful gaming machine out there, but also because of how powerful a home cinema system it should be.
Some of the badass specs revealed so far by Microsoft include six teraflops of GPU power, 326 GB/s memory bandwidth, 12GB of GDDR5 RAM, eight CPU cores, state of the art cooling and the ability to offer “true 4K gaming”.
All of that tech gubbins should translate to some kick-ass super-smooth gaming, with gorgeous graphics to marvel at. But these top-end specs also means enough power to run the console as a next-gen home entertainment system.
So here’s what you can expect from the Microsoft Project Scorpio, and how you’ll be able to use it as a home cinema system. If you’re not the patient type, you can already use the Xbox One S as a home cinema system – or the PS4 Pro for that matter.
Project Scorpio will offer 4K, HDR Blu-ray and streaming video
Thanks to its built-in disc drive, you can expect Project Scorpio to act as a 4K and HDR Ultra High Definition Blu-ray player. Good news, as we’re seeing a strong collection of 4K HDR Blu-rays released these days. Plus, if you’ve seen our best 4K Blu-ray players round-up, you’ll know they aren’t exactly cheap.
Those powerful specs also mean the console will work as a centre for streaming 4K and HDR content via the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, YouTube and more.
Scorpio is set to arrive with HDMI 2.0 connectivity at the very least, but likely the newer HDMI 2.1 for HDR support. If it’s continuing the way the Xbox One has gone, this console should be the centre of your home entertainment. That means you’ll be able to use Microsoft’s device as a pass-through for your existing set-top box. So even the likes of 4K UHD Sky can be accessed via your console controller and home screen.
The 4K part of this means a resolution of 3840×2160 that will take full advantage of your 4K UHD TV. Meanwhile, HDR support will offer a wider colour gamut with better contrast between light and dark on the screen. Again, something that will push your HDR TV to its limits.
As you have probably guessed, if you don’t have a 4K UHD and HDR ready TV, you won’t be able to enjoy the powerful visuals on offer. Likewise, you’ll need to ensure that your home is set up for 4K streaming, if you want to enjoy UHD Netflix video. So you may need to factor those into the overall price if you’re thinking of upgrading.
Project Scorpio will support Dolby Atmos
One very cool addition to the Project Scorpio offering as a home cinema system is the support for Dolby Atmos surround sound.
Microsoft has already rolled out Dolby Atmos support on the Xbox One and Xbox One S, so it was always likely we’d see this in the Project Scorpio setup. This is mainly used for immersive gaming but presumably will also work for movies, to take full advantage of that Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
Dolby Atmos uses upfiring speakers to offer the most immersive sound experience possible. This also delivers more accurate points of sound, so you can feel totally surrounded and hear more specifically where things are meant to be placed in relation to your position.
Again, you’ll need to upgrade your sound system hardware if you want to really feel the full effects of the Atmos sound.
Project Scorpio will work with HoloLens
Microsoft has also said that Project Scorpio will work with the company’s HoloLens augmented reality headset. Specifically the console will support HRTF, which was developed as a proprietary audio format solely for HoloLens.
How this actually works is not so clear, but presumably Scorpio will offer 3D audio. So when wearing a compatible headset, visual objects in the virtual world will emit sounds from where they are located in the room – virtually of course.
Project Scorpio price and release date
Since we’re still in the code name stage of Microsoft’s next-gen console, no pricing or release date specifics have been announced. However, we do know the console is likely to be properly revealed at the E3 gaming event in June 2017.
Expect Microsoft to price Project Scorpio above most consoles as this will straddle the line between console, home PC and home cinema system with UHD Blu-ray player. That’s a whole lot for your buck.