The Xbox Series S is undeniably an impressively small box for a powerhouse of a console, but it takes a special pair of eyes to look at it and think, “Mmm, portable.” Those special eyes belong to UPspec Gaming, an Australian start-up that has invented the xScreen, a detachable 11.6" screen for the little white box, turning it into the world’s weirdest-looking portable gaming device.
It’s not like the Series S didn’t already look strange enough. Like a wall-mounted speaker time-travelled from the 70s, its brutalist design caught many by surprise when it was first revealed. But UPspec Gaming saw that dreary white cuboid and imagined greater things. Well, adding a screen, at least. Yesterday they started a Kickstarter to support the xScreen’s development from functioning prototype to production model, and twenty minutes later it was funded. Which sounds good until I point out that their goal was only ever 13,000AUD ($9,703).
It’s an elegant idea, even if the resulting product looks like one of those laptops that make you laugh out loud when watching movies from the 80s. The screen clips onto the rear of the Series S, slotting in to all the inputs there, and then steals electricity from the USB to power itself, and sound and pictures from the HDMI. Which means no extra cables are needed, just the mains cable for the original machine.
It can only get up to 1080p and 60Hz, so it’s not going to let your Series S show off the 4K it can just about squeeze out. But then again, it’s on an 11.6" screen, not your wall-size TV, so only silly-billies will make too much fuss about that.
Where you might want to make a fuss is the price. It’s 249AUD for a Kickstarter “early bird”, so just under $200—at retail it’ll be 249USD, plus approximately $26 shipping. That’s not exactly outrageous for what it is, but the issue comes when you consider it’s almost the price of the console itself. It feels like a big outlay, when chances are you already have a TV. (Then again, I spent a hideous $300 on a 1TB SSD for my Series S, so who’s really the idiot? It’s me. I’m the idiot. The idiot who bought a Series S and then spent more on top than it would have cost to get a Series X with the 1TB in the first place.)
Of course, this is a Kickstarter, and that they have a working prototype is not of course proof that they will be able to reach the point of production. There are plenty of examples of that. Never forget the crucial words, “Rewards aren’t guaranteed, but creators must regularly update backers.” $200 is a lot to spend on a reward you might not receive. UPspec cover this in their Risks section, so good on them.
As a demonstration kit for developers at game shows, this seems like an absolute must. That alone should see it comfortably profitable. Whether there’s the broader market for the average games player, who wants to sit all hunched over their Xbox like it’s an iPad, I’m not entirely sure.