Today’s Xbox Scorpio hardware specs reveal continues to erode Microsoft’s insistence that Kinect is an important part of the Xbox ecosystem. Like the Xbox One S before it, Scorpio is losing the dedicated Kinect port, replacing it with a $40 adapter that lets you use the peripheral with one of the console’s USB ports and an additional external power supply.
“Since port arrangement is based on Xbox One S, there's no return for the original Xbox One's Kinect port (a USB adapter is required) but the HDMI input is retained,” Digital Foundry writes in its Xbox Scorpio hardware reveal. That’s the only instance of the word Kinect across the article’s massive, 4,000-plus word count.
When the Xbox One S was released last August, more than two years after the Kinect was unbundled from the console, Microsoft offered a free adapter to users who had already purchased an Xbox One and an Xbox One Kinect. That offer expired last month. Microsoft issued Polygon the following statement:
Kinect will be compatible with Project Scorpio via the Xbox Kinect Adapter and the experience will not change due to the connection.
The Xbox Kinect Adapter program was a limited-time offer, in tandem with the launch of Xbox One S in August 2016, to ensure that gamers who own a Kinect for Xbox One could seamlessly enjoy all the same Kinect benefits on the Xbox One S via a free adapter. While the Xbox Kinect Adapter program is no longer being offered, the adapter will continue to be available for purchase at participating retailers, including Microsoft Store.
Further discounting the company’s long-term enthusiasm for Kinect, Microsoft’s plans to include the adapter in new retail Kinect packages failed to come to fruition, and the adapter’s product page on Microsoft’s own store fails to point out the need for the USB adapter. This is a far cry from the formerly “integral” Kinect that the Xbox One launched with, and not everyone is happy about it.
Xbox One S is removing the Kinect port on the back of the system. If Scorpio is a more high-end system, I would like to see it include a Kinect port on the back of the box so we can continue to use the Kinect without taking up a USB port.
That’s from a feature request on Microsoft’s official feedback forum with nearly one thousand votes.
While Microsoft avoids discussion of Kinect for gaming — seriously, can you remember the last time you heard about a Kinect-enabled game? — it’s worked to integrate its Cortana digital assistant across the platform. While Cortana works with a headset microphone, the functionality is still focused on having a Kinect hooked up to your Xbox One.
But an expensive camera array seems like a complicated way to get voice controls on your Xbox One; contrast the $100 Kinect with the $50 Echo Dot, which adds Amazon’s Alexa integration to any room in your house. In less than three years, Alexa has become synonymous with voice-activated technology in the home, while Kinect remains something of a sore spot for Microsoft.
But perhaps Scorpio has plans in mind to continue the company’s retreat from Kinect. The Xbox One S added an IR blaster to begin to reduce the console’s dependence on the Kinect. The IR blaster replaces the Kinect’s IR functionality, which helped the Xbox One manage its control of the components connected through it, like cable boxes. The Xbox One S can do all of that, without the Kinect at all. We don’t know how else, if at all, Microsoft plans on obviating the Kinect.