Reports have emerged over the past couple of weeks regarding what kind of ports the Xbox Series X will be rocking when it launches at the end of the year, and it looks like we’ll be saying rest in peace to the second HDMI port. The Xbox One currently allows users to stick another HDMI cable into its back, allowing users to utilise the console’s OneGuide app to access said port.
Originally, that second port was marketed as a way for Xbox One owners to watch live TV through their Xbox, allowing the console to become an all-in-one box. In essence, the second port was a holdover of the Don Mattrick-era of Xbox One, where it seemed like the console was more interested in becoming a multimedia package with the occasional sports game instead of a full-blown gaming console. Naturally, it was a disaster.
While this evidence might only be anecdotal, I’ve only ever seen the OneGuide app used for its “intended” purpose once in the entire history of the Xbox One. When I saw it, I was confused, convinced that the UI to Freeview’s channel selection menu had changed somehow. For that reason, it’s no surprise that Xbox have decided to move past that little flight of fancy and opted to have just one port.
Still, its absence on the new hardware will be noticed. While the extra port was designed for TV use, you could just stick any old HDMI cable into the back of the thing and play it through the Xbox, which meant that you could play other consoles through the OneGuide app, using the console as a go-between, electric bills and environmental concerns be damned. Sorry, Greta Thunberg, for my pro gamer move.
For someone such as myself, who uses the Xbox One as their main console primarily because I’ve had an Xbox account the longest and most of my friends have an Xbox too, being able to run another console through the back of my Xbox One has a number of benefits, particularly when we’re talking about the Nintendo Switch.
As it stands, the Switch’s current online offerings are atrocious. There’s no real way to communicate and chat with your friends through the Nintendo Switch while playing games together, making the Switch sort of an isolating experience. Right now, the only real benefits to a Nintendo Switch Online subscription are if you’re really into playing Smash Bros. Ultimate online, or you want to access the NES and SNES emulators, which are exclusive to Online subscribers. Oh, and Tetris 99, of course.
Sure, you can still talk with the others you’re playing with by using apps like the Nintendo Switch Online mobile app, or just by using something as simple as Discord, but depending on how you’ve got your audio set up, that could become a logistical nightmare if your game audio and voice chat audio are coming from two separate sources. Personally, I’d find that super distracting.
By connecting the Switch, and a pair of headphones as well, through the Xbox, I could combine the audio from the Switch with Xbox Party Chat, allowing me to effectively play and communicate with my friends. This method meant I could better experience Raid Battles in Pokémon Sword and Shield with my girlfriend, or play a few 4-player matches of Smash Bros. or Mario Kart with my friends. The lack of a second HDMI port on the Xbox Series X threatens to take that away.
This “lifehack”, which is really just a way to wear out two consoles in the time it’d take to wear out the one, also alleviated that disconnected feeling that comes with the Nintendo Switch. I was able to do my own thing, playing whatever single player Switch games I felt like, while still receiving notifications from friends who might have wanted to play an Xbox game. Really, utilising that second port appealed to my FOMO, allowing me the ability to experience the best of both worlds at the same time.
The lack of a second HDMI port on the Xbox Series X threatens to take that away, and I understand that it isn’t the job of Microsoft to prop up the at-best mediocre online offering that the Nintendo Switch currently has. Microsoft are responsible for the success of one console, and that’s their own, and it would seem they’d like to move away from this multimedia “all-in-one” box that the original Xbox One was billed as in order to focus on making a console that plays games really well. Their recent studio acquisitions for first party exclusives are a testament to that.
Really, the second HDMI port isn’t going to be that fondly remembered. It’ll always be tied to the Xbox One’s initial, failed plan, making for a tarnished reputation. However, for a certain amount of people, the lack of a second port on the Xbox Series X will be a severe drawback, myself included.
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