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Microsoft Xbox One S vs Sony PlayStation Neo: What’s the difference for 4K home cinema?

The Microsoft Xbox One S puts a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player in every owner’s TV cabinet and the rumoured PlayStation Neo is expected to do the same. But which will offer more bang for your buck?

The latest 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray offers quality even above that of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Video, including High Dynamic Range and UHD resolution. But UHD Blu-ray players are currently limited in selection and rather expensive. Now you can get a console that includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray player and full gaming compatibility. But which is the one for you?

At the time of publishing the Xbox One S has already launched for £250 and the Sony PlayStation Neo is still at the rumour stage presently – but there’s plenty of information out there. So what’s the expected difference?

Read next: Best 4K UHD Blu-ray movies you can buy right now

Microsoft Xbox One S vs Sony PlayStation Neo: Ultra HD Blu-ray

The Microsoft Xbox One S comes with a drive tray capable of loading and playing not only gaming discs but Ultra HD Blu-rays too. This not only supports 4K resolution at 3840×2160 but also outputs HDR quality. That means the High Dynamic Range of light and dark should make for a far better picture. It also means colour quality is far higher than non-HDR content.

Hardware on the Xbox One S means output via HDMI 2.0 which is HDCP 2.2 supported – so any 4K and HDR content right now can be sent to a compatible television without issue.

Sony was the first to sneak Blu-ray into homes with the PS3. Since it’s still a major force behind Blu-ray movie releases, especially 4K and HDR ones, we can expect the new PlayStation to feature full Ultra HD Blu-ray support too.

The PS Neo will also need to have HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 support to output these high-quality visuals, something current consoles can’t offer even with a software update.

Microsoft Xbox One S vs Sony PlayStation Neo: HDR compatibility

It should be noted that the Xbox One S uses the HDR10 standard, as opposed to Dolby Vision. That means you’ll need to have a compatible HDR10 supported television to display full quality HDR content. While this means a higher colour range than normal content, HDR10 tops out at 10-bit colour, less than that of Dolby Vision.

The Sony PlayStation Neo is expected to appear a while after the Xbox One S so it’ll likely offer greater compatibility. Since Sony’s latest 4K HDR televisions support Dolby Vision it’s more than likely that for HDR purposes, the PS Neo will too. That means a top end of 12-bit colour support, beating HDR10. It may also support HDR10 as some televisions do offer support for both.

Microsoft Xbox One S vs Sony PlayStation Neo: 4K gaming

Despite coming with upgraded processor, graphics and memory, the Xbox One S won’t support 4K gaming. It will simply come with the hardware to offer 4K and HDR video playback. Microsoft has already announced Project Scorpio which is the follow-up console that will also offer 4K gaming.

At this stage, rumours suggest that the PlayStation Neo may come with support for 4K gaming. Sony might intentionally be holding off launching it to place it in direct competition with Microsoft’s Project Scorpio, so don’t expect this to be cheap but rather a high-end machine aimed at gamers who want the best and don’t mind paying for it.

Microsoft Xbox One S vs Sony PlayStation Neo: Streaming 4K and HDR

The Microsoft Xbox One S comes with all the apps you could want for the best UHD streaming experience. That means Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video as well as YouTube and more. Since these apps have been on the Xbox One for a long time already they should run well and offer intuitive interfaces. In the case of Netflix and Amazon Video you can expect HDR as well as 4K streaming too.

Sony has been keeping its PS4 apps up to date and will no doubt continue to do so with the PS Neo. Expect 4K and HDR support for Netflix and Amazon but since this is Sony you can also expect a lot of its own content, like 4K HDR movies, available directly through the console.

Microsoft Xbox One S vs Sony PlayStation Neo: Which should I buy?

If you want an Ultra HD Blu-ray player soon and don’t own an Xbox then the Xbox One S, as the cheapest Blu-ray player out there (at the time of writing), seems perfect. It’s out now with prices starting at £250, depending on the storage level/bundle you go for.

The reason to wait? The PlayStation Neo is rumoured to offer 4K gaming too. This could mean it’s more expensive than the Xbox One S. Another reason to wait is Microsoft’s Project Scorpio, which is reportedly going to appear in 2017. This will offer 4K gaming also but should be more expensive too.

So if you don’t need 4K gaming, or aren’t prepared to pay what will probably be a fair amount more, then the Xbox One S is a perfect Ultra HD Blu-ray player right now – with the bonus of excellent 4K streaming apps and full Xbox gaming.

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