Not only does the Series S provide a more affordable entry point to play the latest games — albeit with toned-down graphics and performance — it’s also absolutely tiny when compared to the Series X and PS5. In fact, it’s only a few inches wider than the Nintendo Switch and it’s actually less wide than the Steam Deck.
While there are other reasons I chose the Series S, its small size played a large role in my final decision. However, while it’s already really portable, you do need a separate screen if you want to play it on the go.
This where a device like the xScreen ($199 on Amazon) from UPspec Gaming can really help. Unlike with a portable monitor, the xScreen attaches directly to the Series S, and here's the best part: it doesn’t require a separate power cable.
As UPspec Gaming recently sent over an xScreen for review, I figured I’d take the idea of a portable Xbox as far as I could and transform my Series S into an ad-hoc gaming laptop. Here’s how I did it and everything you need to know if you want to build a similar setup for yourself.
Powering everything with a single cable
Unlike similar attachable monitors from G-Story and Depgi, the xScreen stands out because it’s powered entirely from the USB port at the back of the Xbox Series S. It doesn’t have a separate AC power cord and you can use the one from your Xbox without any issues.
There is a caveat though. Since the xScreen plugs directly into the back of the Series S without any additional cables, you do lose access to both of the USB ports as well as the Ethernet port at the back of the console. However, the Storage Expansion slot and the AC power slot are still exposed.
If you absolutely need access to all of the ports at the rear of the Series S, then you might be better off with an attachable screen from G-Story or Degpi. However, regardless of which size screen you pick up from either company, it’s going to add some extra bulk to either side of your Xbox. Plus, you’ll have visible HDMI and power cables at the rear unlike with the xScreen which has a much cleaner look overall. Honestly, with everything set up, the xScreen almost looks like it’s a first-party accessory developed by Microsoft itself.
Unlike the PS5 which is compatible with wireless mice and keyboards, the Xbox Series X/S only works with wired ones. As such, I had to figure out a way to expand the number of USB ports available at the front of my Series S in order to use it like a gaming laptop with one of the best gaming keyboards and a gaming mouse.
Fortunately, one of the first accessories I bought for my Series S was the Cenxaki USB Hub Extender ($16, Amazon). It plugs into the front of the Series S and turns one USB port into four while also featuring a white design that matches the console. There’s also a black version available for the Series X that will no doubt look great on the new all-black Series S that will ship with a 1TB SSD when it launches in September.
It’s worth noting that this USB hub turns the USB 3.0 port at the front of the Series S into four USB 2.0 ports. This is fine for using a mouse, keyboard and a wired controller like the HyperX Clutch Gladiate but it will certainly limit the speed of any external hard drive you have plugged into your console.
A truly portable Xbox laptop
After adding those additional USB ports to the front of my Series S, it was time to plug in some peripherals. As this setup is intended to be as portable as possible, I used the Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless for my keyboard and the Destiny 2 themed version of the Razer DeathAdder Elite for my mouse.
If you’ve ever wanted to see what it’s like to game on a PC without having to upgrade to one of the best gaming PCs, then you’re in luck as there are now over 100 different games that have mouse and keyboard support on the Xbox Series X/S. From Fortnite to Call of Duty and even Minecraft, many of the best Xbox games can now be played with a mouse and keyboard.
As I haven’t played a Halo game since the release of the Master Chief Collection, I spent most of my time playing Halo Infinite with a mouse and keyboard while using the xScreen. The experience was really natural and it reminded me just how much I enjoyed playing with a mouse and keyboard back when I built my first gaming PC. While the game itself worked with a mouse perfectly, you’ll need to use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate around the Xbox’s dashboard.
When it’s time to head out and pack up your Series S, UPspec gaming also sells an optional case for the xScreen. While it would be great if it came with the device itself, the xScreen case ($48, UPspec Gaming) is well worth the price as it protects your console while in transit. There’s also more than enough room to hold a controller — or a mouse in this case — along with your Xbox’s power cord and other accessories. I really liked how the company includes some cable ties that stick to the inside of the case to hold your controller in place.
No laptop stand necessary
Besides costing more than a Series S and the xScreen combined, it can be hard to use a gaming laptop ergonomically without a standing desk or a laptop stand. Craning your neck down to look at your laptop’s screen can lead to injuries and definitely doesn’t help if you want to improve your posture.
Thankfully, UPspec Gaming took this into consideration and besides the case and colored latches to attach its monitor to your Series S, the company also makes stand feet for the xScreen. The xScreen Stand Feet ($20, UPspec Gaming) slip onto the side of your Series S at the front and allow you to prop up the console vertically with the screen at a slightly higher level.
In addition to offering better ergonomics, these feet also point the xScreen’s built-in speakers directly at you and make it easier to press the buttons to control the monitor in-between them. Once again though, there is a tradeoff as you won’t be able to use the USB port at the front of the Series S when the console is propped up like this. Still, I found this to be a neat way to use the Series S with the xScreen even though the two devices look best when configured like a gaming laptop.
In laptop mode, you can also close the xScreen and have your Series S turn off automatically. However, if you’ve been playing for a while, you might want to avoid turning off your Xbox this way as the heat from the fan on the top of the console could damage the xScreen.
The perfect Xbox Series S accessory
The Series S is certainly a unique console. While Microsoft could have followed in Sony’s footsteps and made a version of the Xbox Series X without a disc drive, it chose to build a smaller, cheaper and less powerful version of its next-gen Xbox instead.
While many people likely prefer playing the Series X on one of the best TVs in their living room, there’s still a market for the Series S. Not everyone has the room for a larger console like the Series X and many people (myself included) like playing games at their desk since the main TV in their homes is often occupied by others watching TV shows and movies on the best streaming services.
The Series S is quite portable on its own and it’s an easy console to bring with you while traveling since you can just plug it into the TV in your hotel room. However, when combined with the xScreen, the Series S becomes truly portable and you can play your favorite games from anywhere.
Maybe you want to have it on your lap on the couch while others watch TV but you can also power it off of a portable power station and play in the woods if you like. I’m heading off on a family trip next week and alongside The Foldable Gaming Chair, I’ll be bringing my Series S with the xScreen to do just that.
Whether you travel a lot or just want to turn your Series S into an ad-hoc gaming laptop like I did here, the xScreen is the perfect accessory for Microsoft’s pint-sized Xbox.
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Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.
Correction: Xbox absolutely does support wireless keyboards and mice - as long as they connect via USB receivers (they would be interpreted as wired keyboards by the operating system).Reply
The same goes for PS5 - wireless keyboards and mice only work via USB receivers. Bluetooth keyboards and mice will not work.
At what point is SEO optimization not worth it anymore? When all of your best articles are as unbearable to read as this, people stop coming to you for content.Reply