Xbox Tavern Interviews: UPSpec Gaming – All About That xScreen

The Xbox Series S is a fantastic machine. It’s got enough next-gen power to be a gret way to upgrade without going for the full fat Series X, but it’s also small and light enough to be portable unlike its larger stablemate. I should know, I use my Series S every week when I travel for work! It makes those hotel stays far more bearable, but it can also be hit or miss that you’ll get a room with a decent TV, or even one you could plug into.

Enter UPSpec Gaming and the xScreen. This nifty device attaches to the console via a a sturdy back section, plugging directly into the HDMI port and using the standard console power lead to function. It’s a smart looking bit of kit, and whether you travel for work like me, or just want an extra screen to use, read on to find out from the makers themselves why you should consider backing their Kickstarter.

  • What was it that prompted you to create this screen?

Yes, the Xbox Series S was really the inspiration for the xScreen.  We have long wanted a “portable” full power console but until now have always felt that the consoles were all too big to attach a screen too and keep them small enough to take in a backpack in the same way you would a laptop.  When we first saw the surprise announcement of the Xbox Series S we knew that this was the console that would be perfect for this purpose.  The fact that it has an odd narrow rectangle shape makes it perfect to combine with a screen.  We actually just designed this for ourselves and then got such a strong response from family and friends that we decided to test interest in commercialising it.

  • Could you give us a quick highlight of the specs, resolution, refresh rate etc?

In order to make the form factor perfectly match the Xbox Series S, an 11.6-inch screen is the maximum size we could use.  In this screen size the highest resolution and framerate available in production is 1080p and 60hz, so that is what we are using.  Although this is lower than the technical maximum output of the Xbox Series S console of 1440p and 120hz we don’t believe this is an issue as:

a) at the 11.6-inch size, 1080p looks amazingly sharp and there would not be a material perceivable benefit of increasing it, and

b) due to the lower power of the Xbox Series S few modern games will run above 60fps, which is still a fantastic improvement from the last generation and looks amazing on xScreen.

  • You’ve cleverly designed it to fit around the console form factor, what challenges did you face in sticking to this strict space requirement? Were there any features you’d like to have included that you couldn’t?

The first thing that comes to mind is battery. Would have been great to have a battery that could give 2-4hrs runtime, rated for air travel and lightweight. But a battery like this does not exist…yet. We have tested an external battery with the Xbox Series S and the xScreen which is rated for air travel. This gave a runtime of ~40 minutes, which was higher than we expected, but the battery was bulky and heavy.

  • Does the screen cause any extra work load for the console, possibly causing the fans to kick in more or the like?

No, we have not experience like this. We are only pulling power from a single USB 3.0. It would be an interesting test if you connected three high power draw USB devices to all 3 USB on the Xbox Series S, if this would cause anything like you are talking about…

  • How is the screen protected from the top of the console when in the closed position?

This is a bit of insider secret 😊 We are using a custom PCB with a chip that enables the HDMI-CEC feature, allowing power control. 

When the display lid is closed, magnets trigger the shutdown command which is sent to the Xbox Series S.

  • Will there be a carry case for the screen, or both console and screen, custom for this?

Yes, we will be offering the xScreen EVA Case. This will hold the xScreen, Xbox Series S plus controller and power cable. This will be available as an additional option post Kickstarter.

  • Where do you see people making the best use of the screen?

Think travel will be the primary use, however in lockdown Australia with Covid we are not getting to do much ourselves. In these Covid times xScreen has been used to free up the TV or play games in the same room as someone else (we are big co-op game fans).

  • Obviously your Kickstarter was a massive success, but will these be sole for general sale later on?

100%.  Our plan has always been to make the xScreen available for direct sales. Kickstarter for us has been a great product launch platform and validation we have created something that people think is cool and there is demand for the product.

  • Do you see any way something similar could be done for the Series X?

It is possible, but there are more complications. Rear airflow would need to be catered for and a good/easy attachment method. 

The Series X is an odd shape and is quite bulky and heavy, would not fit in backpacks. Add a screen attachment to this it is going to increase the size even further.

  • Have you approached – or been approached by – Microsoft to get this listed under their Made For Xbox scheme?

We talked to a few people at Microsoft, and we may look at this further once we close with the production ready product

  • And finally, our man Ian would like to know – what sauce do you prefer on your chips?

Being from NZ, T-sauce all the way. Save you the google… that is tomato sauce !

Thank you to Andrew and Stuart from UPSpec Gaming for taking the time to speak to us. Our team are looking forward to checking it out for themselves early next year – so much so that some have backed it without even owing a Series S yet!

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Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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