xScreen review: turn an Xbox Series S into a portable console

If you’ve ever owned a screen for the PSone or GameCube, the xScreen will feel instantly familiar. The xScreen is an 11.6-inch (1080p) display that attaches to the back of an Xbox Series S, and it turns Microsoft’s miniature console into an Xbox laptop for gaming on the go. It’s a modern take on the tiny, narrow 5-inch LCD screens we’ve seen attached to consoles in the past, and it’s a great accessory if you never want to worry about hooking up an Xbox to a TV when traveling.

Unfortunately, this portability doesn’t come cheap. The xScreen costs $249.99, which is almost the same price as an Xbox Series S, so you’re definitely going to want to have an Xbox handheld to buy this. I’ve been testing an xScreen over the past few weeks, and I think it’s one of the best executions of the handheld gaming concept. But it’s far from perfect.

The xScreen is really all about its display. The 11.6-inch panel supports up to 1080p at 60Hz and offers surprisingly good viewing angles. If you’re looking to play outdoors, the panel is rated at 350 nits and it’s matte, which helps a lot in direct sunlight. The only real limitations for playing outdoors are simply that you’ll need a cord long enough to power the Xbox Series S.

I played multiple games for hours with the xScreen and never noticed any input latency issues or significant ghosting. It’s a solid panel, except for the black levels. If you’re playing titles that have a lot of low-light scenes, the panel sometimes struggles to really nail the black levels, and as a result games can lack detail.

The xScreen manages to connect to the Xbox Series S via a USB-A port and the HDMI port. You need to align the USB first before the unit snaps into place and is secured by latches on each side. The attachment is very secure and I’ve never had any problems connecting or worrying about it coming loose.

UPspec Gaming, the makers of xScreen, have done a solid job of matching the size of the xScreen to the Xbox Series S, so everything folds up into a neat little package once you’re done playing. The xScreen’s white doesn’t quite match the Xbox Series S, but it’s close enough that I only noticed it in certain light when inspecting the xScreen closely.

The xScreen is an 11.6-inch screen for the Xbox Series S.
Photo by Tom Warren/The Verge

However, setting up the xScreen involves some work. The Xbox Series S immediately defaults to 720p output for the xScreen, and I had to switch to 1080p in the Xbox settings menu to rectify that. I also enabled the HDMI CEC options so that when I close the screen it turns off the Xbox Series S. It’s a neat integration, but you’ll need to use the Xbox power button to restart the console.

To avoid any damage to the xScreen or the Xbox, I also had to make sure the Xbox Series S had the power mode turned on, so that it shuts down completely instead of remaining on standby. This is important, as the xScreen covers the main vent of the Xbox Series S when folded down, and the Xbox will still generate heat which could damage the screen if it is running in sleep mode. Fortunately, the Xbox Series S boots very quickly, so not having a sleep mode is a minor inconvenience.

The xScreen is powered by the Xbox Series S USB port, so you don’t have to worry about a separate power supply, and just plugging the Xbox into a wall works normally. You’ll need to use Wi-Fi for connectivity though, as the xScreen blocks the Series S Ethernet port and additional USB port. That only leaves the front USB port open for additional accessories.

The latches hold the xScreen in place.
Photo by Tom Warren/The Verge

UPspec Gaming has also enabled an optional crosshair overlay for use in FPS games, and there are a bunch of built-in controls for screen settings and built-in speaker volume. The speakers get surprisingly loud, but not in a good way. There’s no mute hotkey, and the volume controls don’t seem to affect volume after a certain level. The speakers are definitely a disappointing aspect of this $249.99 accessory.

If you want to support the whole thing, there are optional legs that move the entire unit into a support mode orientation. I’ve rarely used the xScreen this way, but it could be useful if you’re limited on space or want the screen to be taller in certain environments.

I think the optional carrying case is essential for the xScreen though. When attached to the Xbox and folded back, I noticed that the xScreen creaks and wobbles if you apply pressure to it. I’m not sure I would trust this being thrown around in an unprotected backpack. The hard carrying case protects the xScreen well, but it’s an optional $59.99 extra.

The xScreen speakers are disappointing.
Photo by Tom Warren/The Verge

Speaking of build quality, I’m also a bit worried about the xScreen’s hinge. I haven’t pushed it all the way to test, but it feels a bit flimsy, and I wouldn’t recommend it for small children who might not handle it gently enough not to damage it. This probably isn’t an issue for most, but if you plan on using stand-up mode orientation, this is where the damage potential seems high.

Despite some of the xScreen’s downsides, I’ve had hours of fun with this little screen. UPspec Gaming has created something unique for the Xbox Series S here, and it’s in a neat little package that fits in really well. You’re really paying a premium price of $249.99 for this neat integration, especially when there are so many good portable displays out there that will do the job just as well at half the price.

There’s no such thing as the xScreen, though. It made me want to be a kid again, take my Xbox with me everywhere and not have to worry about a TV to plug in or a good internet connection for Xbox Cloud Gaming. It’s an old-school idea, in a modern, well-executed package.