What every best video game console has
- A great lineup of games that YOU want to play: Choosing a game console largely depends on who will be playing and what
type of games you think you'll want to play. The Nintendo Wii is popular
for its family-friendly titles and numerous fitness offerings, while the
Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 have extensive collections of games for
serious gamers. Before you buy, visit the manufacturer's website to get a
sense of what games are available for that console. Each manufacturer
lists compatible games on its website.
- Enough hard drive capacity to hold downloads,
etc.: If you're not that interested in online
gaming, you can probably get by with less storage in your game console.
Both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 come in multiple capacities. However,
the 4GB Xbox 360 Slim uses flash memory in place of a hard drive, which
has caused compatibility issues with some titles. It's also not enough
storage for all but the most casual users; hard drive upgrades are
available, but can get pricey.
- Compatibility with the titles you already own: Keep in mind that new consoles aren't guaranteed to play older games. Sony
has dropped backward compatibility with PS2 games on all versions of the
PlayStation 3, while the latest Wii no longer supports Nintendo GameCube
- Useful extras: Games
consoles are often marketed in bundles with games and accessories. Keep in
mind that you'll need to spend extra for things that are not in the box.
That includes things like HDMI cables, headsets and additional game
- A controller that is fun and easy to use: If you can, play around with a console's controller at the store before
you buy. In reviews, users frequently complain that a particular
controller style is uncomfortable or the buttons are too small for their
Know before you go
Who will be playing? For younger kids, the
Wii gets the best reviews with its family-friendly games. For teens and adults,
especially those interested in realistic graphics and action, the Xbox 360 and
PS3 are the better choices.
Are you interested in extras like online gaming or playing
movies? The Xbox and PS3 both
play DVDs and CDs, but the PS3 can also play Blu-ray Discs. Both offer online
gaming. In the past, experts have said that the Xbox 360 does a better job in
this regard, but the gap seems to have closed and you need to budget extra for
a Microsoft Live Gold subscription to access online gaming with the Xbox 360.
The Wii does have Internet connectivity and is less expensive, but it can't
play DVDs. All three consoles offer Netflix and Hulu Plus streaming, but you'll
need a subscription. The PS3 and Xbox 360 offer lots of additional streaming
options as well.
Is motion control a must? All three of the
major consoles have motion-sensing technology, though with the obvious
exception of the Wii, compatible titles are limited. Keep in mind that these
systems often require a good deal of space (like a large living room or game
room) to work effectively.
Expectations: The dollars and cents of it
Nintendo Wii U is brand new at the time of this report, and sold out at many
retailers in advance of the Christmas holiday. Because of that, the few
consoles available at retail are being sold at above their MSRP. We can't
predict how long this situation will last, but we do advise patience unless you
need to be the first on your block to have the Wii U. We expect
prices to come down, and game selection to go up … eventually.