Comparing major gaming consoles
Console gaming has exploded in recent years, becoming the multibillion-dollar industry many insiders foresaw. While video game enthusiasts have a near-endless array of options on the market and online, three gaming consoles have distinguished themselves as the market leaders: Microsoft's Xbox, Sony's PlayStation, and Nintendo's Wii. If you're new to the console gaming market, or if you're just seeking a neutral opinion on the relative merits of these three systems, knowing how to compare the various features of the "big three" will help you decide which is best for you.
Console Gaming: Points of Comparison between Systems
There are five major points of comparison to consider before choosing a gaming console:
- Hardware and system specifications
- Video accessibility
- Connectivity capabilities
- Community and support features
Hardware and System Specifications
Here, you're going to be taking basic performance features into consideration. All three of the major gaming consoles offer online service, but the Xbox 360 charges an annual online subscription fee for access to updates, products library, and some community features. Game media differs between the three systems as well. The Xbox 360 uses DVDs, while the Wii U uses its own specially-patented optical discs, and the PlayStation 3 takes Blu-ray discs. Also, consider the number of controller input ports:
- Xbox 360: 4 ports
- Wii U: 2 ports (GamePad) + 4 ports (Wii)
- Playstation 3: 7 ports
The final major consideration is backwards compatibility, as each of these three systems are well beyond their first generation. All three of them offer full backwards compatibility.
Here, you'll be looking at five major system components:
- Graphics processing unit (GPU)
- Processor speed (in megahertz)
- RAM (in megabytes)
- Standard storage capacity (for saving games in progress)
- Wi-Fi connectivity
As all three of these systems offer Wi-Fi connectivity, they can double as access ports to online video and media content. Each of the three systems play video in full 1080p high-definition, and all three offer direct links to YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix. The Xbox One has an interesting feature that it can record brief clips. You could then upload these videos to a YouTube channel, for example. If you produce excellent short videos, you may be approached by someone who wants to download YouTube videos of short but entertaining clips for a show. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 also have their own built-in video libraries, though the Wii U does not.
You may also want to consider the system's connectivity and storage capabilities, beyond the amount of default hard drive space it offers. Consider features like:
- The number of audio-video output ports
- HDMI, USB and Ethernet ports
- Headphone adaptability
- Flash card
- Memory card and memory stick capabilities
- Camera type and specifications
These features allow you to customize the performance of the system to your own preferences. The more flexibility you have, the greater your customization potential.
Community and Support Features
In the age of high-speed wireless Internet connectivity, all three systems offer you the ability to participate in online communities with other gaming enthusiasts. While each of the three systems comes with a standard one-year warranty, there is some minor variation in what each of the three systems offers in terms of community and support features.
All three systems offer the following:
- Social networking (Facebook log in, Twitter access, etc.)
- SMS text messaging connectivity
- Voice chat
- Video chat
- Access to an online user forum (for asking questions and sharing tips about particular games, strategies, etc.)
- Cell phone connectivity
- Email connectivity
- Access to an FAQ forum
In addition, the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 support live online chat in real time. The Wii U does not offer online chat features.
All three systems offer engaging yet very different gaming experiences. As a final consideration, you should take a long and careful look at gaming libraries. If there's a particular type or genre of game that you particularly enjoy, it may inspire you to favor one system over another.