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Features of Alternative Consoles

Essential features to look for in alternative gaming consoles

The gaming console market is set to expand in new and exciting ways, as consoles like the Ouya, GameStick and NVIDIA Shield bring never-before-seen features to the world of video games. Most serious gamers will begin by making a careful evaluation and comparison of the console's hardware specifications. Once you've done this, you should also take a close look at the features it offers. Some of the things you'll want to think about include portability and docking, game accessibility, operating systems and platforms, connectivity options, cameras, and expandability.

Compare Features of Alternative Video Game Systems

Some of the exciting, envelope-pushing features you can expect to find in alternative video game systems include:

  • Portability and docking. Many of these new systems, and particularly the GameStick, are designed to offer portability that consoles like the PlayStation, Wii, and Xbox simply cannot match. By and large, they are designed to be very small, easily transportable, and compatible with a broad range of devices including smartphones, televisions, tablets and computers. In addition to portability features, look at how (and if) the system docks, and how long a fully charged battery will carry it once it's off its docking station.
  • Game accessibility. Some alternative consoles allow players to access proprietary game libraries, while others connect you to the Internet, where you can choose from any number of accessible titles. You may find your options limited -- at least, in the early going -- if you opt for a system that limits game accessibility to titles specially developed for the device. For greater choice, consider systems with access to digital game distribution networks, provided by companies that have agreements with major game publishers and studios.
  • Operating systems and platforms. Most of the alternative game consoles which are on the market or soon to hit the market have tapped into the potential offered by Google's Android operating system, which potentially opens the console up to hundreds of millions of players around the world. If you don't have and don't plan to get a device that runs Android, look into other operating systems and gaming platforms; some of the possibilities include Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Mac's iOS.
  • Connectivity options. The system's connectivity, to both external viewing devices like TVs and tablets as well as to the Internet, should be carefully examined. You should also see if the system uses wireless or wired controllers. In the latter case, look at the maximum number of ports to see how many players can participate in a game at any given time. Many of these consoles also offer microSD card slots, allowing you to quickly and easily expand memory capabilities.
  • Cameras. Many of the alternative game consoles hitting the market have built-in cameras, which can capture still images and video, or take screenshots of games in progress. As with any digital camera, image resolution (measured in megapixels) is the key point of comparison between systems.
  • Expandability. Internal hard drive space can fill up quickly when you're saving large files like video games. If you're planning to play titles that may require you to save games in progress, look for systems which support expandable memory. This will make it easier for you to add more storage space, should you need it.

Finally, some systems offer additional features that have never traditionally been part of the gaming console world. For example, the NVIDIA Shield and WikiPad 7 both offer a built-in GPS system, something not typically seen in a console. Why? Well, given their advanced portability, it's not outside the realm of possibility that either system could be misplaced, and given their Internet connectivity, you will be able to locate a GPS-enabled system very quickly if you've lost it.

Look carefully at prices when you're comparing features. Some alternative consoles give you a lot more bang for your buck, so take the time to thoroughly research the options on the market before you buy.

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