Casting Xbox games to a Samsung TV is a breeze I wish all TVs could do it

Earlier this summer, Microsoft and Samsung teamed up to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming to Samsung’s 2022 lineup of smart TVs. (opens in a new tab) through the Xbox app. This partnership means you can stream a boatload of Xbox Game Pass games without needing an Xbox console, PC, or even a streaming device.

The only requirements are a Bluetooth controller, an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, and a strong internet connection. Now that the Xbox app has been out for almost a month on newer Samsung TVs, I decided it would be a good idea to call up one of those fancy displays to see how well Xbox Cloud Gaming was performing on Internet in the real world.

Samsung has sent out one of its new Neo QLED 4K smart TVs (opens in a new tab) to allow me to see Xbox Cloud Streaming in action. Yes, sending a high-end 4K TV to test out a service that only streams at 1080p is a bit overkill. But am I complaining? No.

The Xbox app interface is nearly identical to the console and PC versions and all navigate with a Bluetooth controller. The only difference in the UI is that it shows cloud-only games, so some titles will be missing from the typical Game Pass offering. It still has a good amount of Xbox games and third-party games.

As cool as it sounds, there are limits. For starters, as I mentioned, it streams games at a stable 1080p/60fps. Samsung’s TVs do upscale, but it’s a little disappointing that you can’t stream Xbox games in 1440p or 4K like you can with your Xbox consoles. If you want to stream games in 4K, you can opt for Google Stadia Pro ($10 per month) or an RTX 3080 subscription (opens in a new tab) to GeForce Now ($20 per month), whose apps are also available through the Samsung Gaming Hub. Although these services work with separate game libraries, your mileage may vary depending on what you own.

As for latency, as long as you have a wired Ethernet connection to your network, it’s shocking how little input lag there is. Maybe I’m still traumatized by early GeForce Now betas or the current state of PlayStation Now; who knows? I’m impressed with the performance of most of the games tested.

In competitive shooters like Halo Infinite or Fortnite, I’m pleasantly surprised how I can jump into matches and hold their own against PC and console players most of the time. Although precision weapons like snipers and pistols can feel a bit laggy in the heat of battle, especially in Halo, where even being delayed by a few milliseconds could cost you against better players.

Despite this, the service shines in games that don’t require millisecond-dependent gameplay, like strategy and adventures. I was able to complete a few runs of Slay the Spire and Hades, and they performed as well as they did on console. I also played As Dusk Falls a bit, and it was nice to sit back and make terrible life choices for a change of pace.

It’s shocking how little input lag there is.

Jorge Jimenez, enemy of the gap

MLB The Show 22, which is my current annual obsession, is doing amazingly well. I’ve only experienced a couple of instances where performance dropped causing a swing and miss on an at-bat. Other than that, Xbox Cloud Gaming works as advertised.

I can’t stress enough how easy and seamless it is to get into a game, though it’s true that the Xbox app could use better curation to organize its titles. For example, there are no horror or sports categories, which seems odd. Everything is just grouped into very generic categories. Other than that, you just need to click on the title and it starts in seconds. It’s streaming, so there are no downloads or updates to worry about.

Xbox Cloud Streaming won’t give you a 1:1 reproduction of the PC or even console experience in terms of fidelity, but I applaud it for trying. Since I’m playing on a bigger screen, the artifacts were more prominent, especially in the darker areas. It looks pretty bad in motion in games like Inside, which are just dark blacks and grays. When playing Slay the Spire and Hades, I noticed a drop in visual quality whenever the connection was wobbly, where it looked like the video was buffering for a few seconds.

Again, the further you sit from the screen, the less visible it is. Since the TV I received is 55 inches and I’m sitting less than 10 feet from it, it’s easy for me to spot imperfections, whereas someone sitting on a couch 15 feet in their lounge could be more forgiving. .

Just for fun, I tried a few strictly wireless Fortnite matches to see if there was a big difference in latency. I had a few instances where my connection went haywire, and my video and audio quality dropped before latency was affected. From there, I could notice a much slower response from button press to screen action. Even with my very good internet connection (891 Mbps download speed), being wireless was too unreliable for serious competitive play.

As someone who isn’t the biggest proponent of game streaming, I’m still pretty surprised at how well it works. Navigating the Samsung Gaming Hub and starting Xbox games is a breeze. The games themselves look pretty good and, more importantly, play the way they’re supposed to, as long as you’re on a wired connection.

Ultimately, the quality of your experience with Xbox Cloud Gaming will always be determined by your internet connection. However, I can begin to see the appeal of a world where you sit back and play video games on your TV without worrying about upgrading consoles or finding an unobtainable GPU. Now that Microsoft is testing 5-person Family Sharing for Game Pass Ultimate (opens in a new tab)it would eliminate the need to buy multiple consoles for a household, which is a pretty smart move from Microsoft.

If Microsoft can find a way to stream games in 1440p or 4K without sacrificing latency, then this service would be an absolute slam dunk. I admit there’s something about deviceless game streaming, where $15 a month and a Bluetooth controller is enough to hop online and play games with friends. As a hardcore PC gamer, I’ll never need a beefy gaming rig to make me happy, but if services like this mean more people can play more games without spending a ton of hardware money, I totally agree.

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